Martyn Thomas Associates Limited
Engineering Quality in Software
In the UK and in Australia, the Expert Witness owes their primary duty to the Court. The expert must therefore act with professional integrity and present their complete and unbiased opinion; they must not regard themself as an advocate for the party who has retained their services and who is paying their fees. These duties are set out clearly in the Expert Witness Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court of New South Wales; the UK courts have similar codes of practice.
The work of an expert usually starts with a short review of key documents and an oral opinion.
In our experience, reviewing a few hundred pages of documents and forming an initial view of the case take between two and four days of work.
We have found that the clearest view of a software development project is usually to be found in the documentation and emails that every project generates as it moves forward. However, it is essential to understand the context of these contemporary documents because they do not always tell the whole truth: project managers may conceal problems from customers (and from their own management), developers express opinions that are outside their competence, and almost everyone is optimistic about milestone dates. Nevertheless, it is usually quite easy to get to the heart of project delays and deficiencies if one has access to the project files.
It is often the case that the specifications for a software development project only become known in full detail once the project is underway. The additional detail frequently adds complexity and extra work to the project, and the responsibility for the additional cost and any delays may be a matter of dispute between the customer and their supplier. Examination of the project documentation will usually reveal whether the project scope and requirements have been managed professionally and the extent to which scope changes contributed to any project overruns.
No practical amount of testing can show that a software system is free from errors. Where there is a dispute about material errors in software systems, it is important to consider the fitness for purpose of the development methods and quality management, including testing, and the nature of the errors that were discovered as well as the number of such errors.
Our experience and approach
We have written expert reports for litigations and mediations, in the UK and Australia. We have also advised on the classes of documents that should be discovered, reviewed the reports of other experts, and advised potential litigants that in our opinion their case was not as strong as they had hoped.
Martyn Thomas leads our expert witness work and takes responsibility for the correctness of all the facts and opinions contained within his expert reports. He will use the research and reviewing skills of Anne Rogers where this saves the client's time and money, and he may use the expertise of one or more associates with specialist technical skills where this is necessary and with the client's agreement.
|Martyn Thomas Associates Limited is registered in England, number 3571918.
Registered office: 72 Fentiman Road, London SW8 1LA, UK