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At IOE, a decision might have been made to use an outside contractor to produce the maintenance group accounts subsystem rather than develop the software in-house. As a client using the services of an outside contractor. IOE would be concerned that the contractor is following the best quality practices. It is now common to include in contracts terms covering the types of technique that a contractor will use. Various national and international standards bodies, including the British Standards Institution (BSD in the United Kingdom, have inevitably become involved in the creation of standards for quality management systems. The British standard is now called BS EN ISO 9001:1994. which is identical to the international standard. ISO 9001:1994. Standards such as the ISO «XXX) series aim to ensure that a monitoring and control system to check quality is in place. They are concerned with the certification of the development process, not of the end product, as in the case of crash helmets and electrical appliances with their familiar CE labels. The ISO 9000 series govern quality systems in general terms and not just those in the software development environment.

There has been some controversy over the value of these standards. Stephen Halliday, writing in The Observer. had misgivings that these standards are taken by many customers to imply that the final product is of a certified standard although as Halliday says 'It has nothing to do with the quality of the product going out of the gate. You set down your own specifications and just have to maintain them, however low they may be'. It has also been suggested that obtaining certification can be an expensive and time-consuming process that can put smaller, but still well-run. businesses at a disadvantage. Finally, there has been a concern that a preoccupation with certification might distract attention from the real problems of producing quality products.

Putting aside these reservations, let us examine how the standard works. A primary task is to identify those things that are to be the subject of quality requirements. Having defined the requirements, a system must be put in place to check that the requirements are being fulfilled and that corrective action is being taken where necessary.

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