Quality is such a vague and broad term, that it needs clarification for system development projects.
Consider the following examples of quality requirements:
- An authenticated user requests generation of the daily sales report in PDF format via the graphical user interface. The system generates this report in less than 10 seconds.
- When a user configures a health insurance contract, the system calculates a price estimate based on the currently available information. This estimate must be within a ±15% margin relative to the final price.
- The user registration service must be available 7x24h 99%.
- A new insurance tariff can be implemented in the system in less than 10 days.
- A service crashed at runtime. It can be restarted to a fully operational state in less than 30 seconds.
These sentences, in natural language, describe requirements or expectations of some stakeholder in a quite specific manner. Formulating requirements in such a way allows a development team to know what needs to be achieved, and what is good enough.
Len Bass and his colleagues from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) coined the term “quality attribute scenarios” for such kinds of sentences. See Bass et al., 2021 for details.
Quality scenarios, in short, are a pragmatic, easy-to-use and general approach to specifying quality requirements.
You find 0 examples of such quality requirements on this site (see examples).
General structure of quality scenarios
- Event/stimulus: Any condition or event arriving at the system.
- Response: The activity undertaken after the arrival of the stimulus.
- System (or part of the system): Some artifact is stimulated, which may be the whole system or some distinct pieces (artifacts) of it.
- Metric (response measure): The response should be measurable in some fashion, so that this scenario (quality requirement) can be objectively assessed or tested.
Quality scenarios document and clarify the required quality attributes. They help to describe required or desired qualities of a system in a pragmatic and informal manner, making the abstract term “quality” more concrete, specific and tangible.