While many people hear the term quality assurance in many industries across the world, most don’t really know all that goes into the QA process of testing and constantly improving a product or service. However, this lack of knowledge doesn’t make it any less vitally important to improve products released to the worldwide market. That’s especially so in the case of software development.
Software quality assurance (sometimes referred to just as QA) is the process that helps assure that all software engineering processes, activities, work items, and general methods comply with the predefined standards via monitoring. This may only involve a single standard or a combination of many different standards.
Software QA incorporates all of the aspects of the software development process from the informational gathering and definition of requirements to the release of the product with the prime goal of ensuring quality.
In the early days of software quality assurance, QA testing services were only brought in relatively late in the development cycle. For example, companies using the Waterfall development methodology passed along the already produced software to the quality assurance team for feedback and, inevitably, back to the dev team to fix errors.
This was extra costly being that the software was already in production and caused delays in time-to-market estimates. Thankfully, the software quality assurance of today starts at the very beginning of the development cycle to help fend off such time and budget-consuming errors.
Many people also commonly confuse quality assurance and quality control in the context of software development. Quality assurance occurs continuously throughout the development process while quality control only happens at the end of the process. While the goal of quality assurance is the proactive prevention of defects in a product, quality control is more of a reactive detection of defects.
What Do People Need to Know About Software Quality Assurance Testing?
Although the general idea behind the need for QA is fairly easy for the general public to understand, there are many elements, procedures, and processes that go into this aspect of development that make it more complex than anticipated:
- A solid software QA process allows for flexibility throughout the development process and adapts to changes as they arise. During any kind of new development project, big changes, issues, and derailments of some sort typically occur. It’s important that quality assurance professionals help prepare for these changes as much as possible but must continue to stay flexible no matter what to keep things sailing smoothly.
After the successful navigation of a big change or issue, QA engineers must use a formalized system to log and check that any changes are still in accordance with all pertinent standards while still allowing for long-term viability. Once completed, these changes measure their impact on the project for future reference.
- Good QA practices include many frequent audits and checkpoints throughout the development life cycle. These audits act as mini check-ins to periodically assess not only the progress of the project itself but also standards compliance, the accuracy of the general scope of work, and timelines.
These mini audits help ensure the quality of the product during a specific period of development while also acting as small performance assessments for developers. These (sometimes) unannounced checks help ensure standards and practice adherence.
- Although many business owners may see quality assurance as just an extra cost in the development cycle, it actually helps save money. When done correctly, QA helps identify problems before they grow too large to help make their solutions much more cost-effective. This process not only saves money but also time so that companies can move on to the next project at a much more rapid pace.
- Software QA testing falls under 3 categories: white box, gray box, and black box. White box testers have a thorough knowledge base of the software they must test, including the general features and elements, and how they work together or relate to one another. Gray box testers have some understanding of the components of a software product but may not know all about the software or its coding.
Black box software testers are unaware of how the software they’re testing works nor do they have any understanding of its design. Black box testers act as end-user simulation as someone without knowledge of the product’s inner workings.
- There are 3 testing methods for software QA: automatic, manual, and in-between. Automatic testing means that testers have automatic tools and scripts to perform most of their work. The development of more effective tools in recent years means that this is a much more common method for today’s bustling workplaces.
In manual testing environments, testers must set up their own testing environment, assess all of the test cases, collect the necessary data, and manually develop their reports. Although this method takes place much less frequently in today’s world, it still occurs in key stages of development. In-between testing, as its name suggests, is a combination of the 2 aforementioned methods where automated tests occur in a manually set up environment.
Software QA testing is a vital part of the process of successfully developing software for today’s market. While some people may view it as a waste of time or a tedious process, quality assurance is the only way to guarantee that products are as close to perfect as possible before ever reaching the hands of the end-user.