Software verification and validation

In software project management, software testing, and software engineering, verification and validation (V&V) is the process of checking that a software system meets specifications and that it fulfills its intended purpose. It may also be referred to as software quality control. It is normally the responsibility of software testers as part of the software development lifecycle. In simple terms, software verification is: "Assuming we should build X, does our software actually achieve its goals without any bugs or gaps?" On the other hand, software validation is: "Was X actually what we should have built? Does X actually meet the high level requirements?"


Validation checks that the product design satisfies or fits the intended use (high-level checking), i.e., the software meets the user requirements. This is done through dynamic testing and other forms of review.

Verification and validation are not the same thing, although they are often confused. Boehm[1] succinctly expressed the difference between

According to the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI-SW v1.1),

In other words, software verification is ensuring that the product has been built according to the requirements and design specifications, while software validation ensures that the product actually meets the user's needs, and that the specifications were correct in the first place. Software verification ensures that "you built it right". Software validation ensures that "you built the right thing". Software validation confirms that the product, as provided, will fulfill its intended use.

From testing perspective:

Related concepts

Both verification and validation are related to the concepts of quality and of software quality assurance. By themselves, verification and validation do not guarantee software quality; planning, traceability, configuration management and other aspects of software engineering are required.

Within the modeling and simulation (M&S) community, the definitions of verification, validation and accreditation are similar:

The definition of M&S validation focuses on the accuracy with which the M&S represents the real-world intended use(s). Determining the degree of M&S accuracy is required because all M&S are approximations of reality, and it is usually critical to determine if the degree of approximation is acceptable for the intended use(s). This stands in contrast to software validation.

Classification of methods

In mission-critical software systems, where flawless performance is absolutely necessary, formal methods may be used to ensure the correct operation of a system. However, often for non-mission-critical software systems, formal methods prove to be very costly and an alternative method of software V&V must be sought out. In such cases, syntactic methods are often used.

Test cases

Main article: Test case

A test case is a tool used in the process. Test cases may be prepared for software verification and software validation to determine if the product was built according to the requirements of the user. Other methods, such as reviews, may be used early in the life cycle to provide for software validation.

Independent Verification and Validation

Software verification and validation often is carried out by a separate group from the development team. In such cases, the process is called "independent verification and validation", or simply IV&V.

Regulatory environment

Verification and validation must meet the compliance requirements of law regulated industries, which is often guided by government agencies[3][4] or industrial administrative authorities. For instance, the FDA requires software versions and patches to be validated.[5]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Boehm, Barry (1989). "Software Risk Management". In Ghezzi, C.; McDermid, J. A. Proceedings of 2nd European Software Engineering Conference. ESEC'89. LNCS. 387. pp. 1–19. doi:10.1007/3-540-51635-2_29. ISBN 3-540-51635-2. ISSN 0302-9743.
  2. 1 2 3 "Department of Defense Documentation of Verification, Validation & Accreditation (VV&A) for Models and Simulations". Missile Defense Agency. 2008.
  3. "General Principles of Software validation; Final Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff" (PDF). Food and Drug Administration. 11 January 2002. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  4. "Guidance for Industry: Part 11, Electronic Records; Electronic Signatures — Scope and Application" (PDF). Food and Drug Administration. August 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  5. "Guidance for Industry: Cybersecurity for Networked Medical Devices Containing Off-the Shelf (OTS) Software" (PDF). Food and Drug Administration. 14 January 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2009.

External links

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