We are often asked “what are the benefits of performing Independent Validation and Verification (IV&V) on a software project”. Though there are many, we routinely cite four to our clients:
- Early detection. IV&V identifies both problems and opportunities for improvement to processes and work products early on, so that corrections and improvements can be made before the consequences become major. This has the result of reducing the total amount of work—and rework, which is especially expensive—that must be performed for the project to achieve its objectives. Note that IV&V does not just focus on problems and risks, but on solutions to problems and mitigation strategies and actions for risks. Every problem, risk or opportunity finding includes practical recommendations for solving the problem, mitigating the risk, or exploiting the opportunity.
- Improved quality. IV&V improves the quality of project work products and processes. These improvements come not only through early detection of errors, but through pro-active prevention of errors: IV&V provides checklists, templates, and other instruments to improve the quality of project work from its inception.
- Lower cost. By detecting errors, problems, and opportunities for improvement at the earliest possible points, IV&V can significantly reduce the over-all cost of an IT project. In an often cited study by NASA (A Case Study of IV&V Return on Investment -ROI; R.A. Rogers, D. McCaugherty, F. Martin; NASA; October 2000) estimates the return on investment for IV&V services is between 1.25-1.82. Despite the age of the study the figures appear valid (or even somewhat conservative) when applied to today’s IV&V results.
- Reduced management burden. By providing proven, professional techniques to evaluate project products and processes, IV&V can reveal risks, mitigation strategies, and opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of processes, greatly reducing the stress and “fire-fighting” typically associated with project management and freeing up managers’ time to focus on more important strategic issues.
Though there are other benefits these four alone typically justify the expense of performing IV&V on a software project.