Chapter 7

FMECA Applied to Software Development

Robert W. Stoddard


Failure modes and effects criticality analysis (FMECA) was developed and used beginning in the 1950s in aerospace engineering, with subsequent adoption and use within the military and nuclear industries, systems safety applications, and reliability engineering applications. An abundance of example uses may now be seen in publications and on the Web related to a myriad of industries, including the medical services and pharmaceutical fields. Essentially, FMECA remains a proven technique for a multidisciplined team to structure thought around anticipating what can go wrong and why, with follow-up thought on how to lessen the chance of occurrence, the severity of the consequence, and the ability of the potential issue to escape detection. FMECA has grown in usage after companies have realized that testing a product is no longer sufficient and that FMECA remains relatively cost-beneficial in light of product liability and recall campaigns [1]. Many companies have adopted FMECA to assess the potential vulnerabilities of both their product design (design FMECA) and their critical business processes or services (process FMECA). Although this chapter delineates how to apply design FMECA to a software product, the literature includes definitions and case studies of the application of process FMECA to the software process, whether it be the software code review process [2] or the software development life cycle ...

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