The adage “prevention is better than cure” fits perfectly when it comes to software development. Software that underwent rigorous testing and quality assurance are highly unlikely to present any problem that might need a “cure,” which saves a great deal of trouble.
On the other hand, neglecting quality assurance (QA) and testing can lead to thousands of problems, which can present numerous problems and result in irreversible damage. Therefore, it’s important to consider QA in software testing as a major component.
This blog will help you understand quality assurance, how it works, and its importance in software testing. Let’s begin!
What is Quality Assurance (QA)?
Quality assurance (QA) is referred to as a systematic process that’s designed to determine whether a specific product or service adheres to the specified requirements for the client.
QA helps in establishing and maintaining requirements for developing reliable products/providing high-quality services. It also helps in improving the efficiency and value of work processes.
A functional, well-defined quality assurance system allows a company to establish creditability, which results in a higher level of confidence by customers in their products or services.
A little background
The concept of quality assurance date backs to the Middle Ages, but it became more prominent in the United States when a large volume of ammunition and weaponry required inspecting during World War II.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) came into existence in Geneva in 1947 and started publishing standards in 1951. It gradually grew and published 9000 different standards by 1987.
ISO is considered as the driving force behind quality assurance formalized practices. Started as standardized processes in the manufacturing industry, it paved its way to numerous industries, including software development.
QA versus QC
People often confuse QA with quality control (QC), but they’re not the same—although they do share some similarities. QC is a production-focused process that’s more directed toward implementation and troubleshooting, and its scope is fairly limited as compared to QA.
QA, on the other hand, requires a more comprehensive approach. Not only does it ensure the software is free of bugs and malfunctioning code, but it also ascertains that the software meets the client’s specifications and serves its intended purpose.
QA Phases in Software Development
The lifecycle of a software development project can be divided into different phases. Each of these phases comes with their own testing requirements.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll break it into these four phases:
- Research and Planning
- Analysis and Design
Stage#1: Research and Planning
Like every other project, the first phase of a software development project is research and planning.
In this phase, the QA team learns about the business requirements and the intended use of the software. Some common questions to consider at this point will include:
- What’s the purpose of the software?
- Who will use the software?
- What kind of data will be fed into the system?
- What’s the quality of the existing processes?
- What does the client want to achieve by implementing the software?
This process, often dubbed as requirement testing, helps in identifying bottlenecks and errors in the business logic and workflows.
The QA team checks for completeness, consistency, traceability, repetition, verifiability, among different criteria to assess the feasibility and practicability of the software.
This helps in setting the scope of the project at the initial stages of the project, which helps in ensuring that the software development process is highly cost-effective and efficient.
It’s important that the entire phase is properly documented with qualitative and quantifiable information. Moreover, the information should be free from ambiguity or vagueness as it will be used as a guideline to devise a software development plan.
Stage#2: Analysis and Design
After the planning and research phase, developers create an application prototype and architecture of software, which needs to be carefully tested by the QA team.
The quality of the software is heavily analyzed and inspected to ensure its application and performance will help in achieving the intended goals.
Prototype testing at this stage is done very meticulously with high attention to detail as it helps in the identification of logical errors before a single line of code is written.
As a result, companies can save time and efforts that might have been spent in developing programs that would’ve led to errors and system failures.
Secondly, the prototype is compared to similar software available in the market to improve its quality and include features and options that are important and add value to the project.
Furthermore, the commercial prospects of the project are examined and studied to ensure that it’s financially viable and to justify the costs.
A prototype can either be created by a software developer of a company or sent by a client. Regardless, these are some of the steps that are taken to test its effectiveness and usability:
- A schematic prototype is carefully tested during its initial stage of the design
- The prototype is tested with greater precision and in more detail
- The final prototype design that’s approved by the client is tested
After completing the testing process, the QA team can suggest changes and even recommend some improvements that will improve the functionality, usage, and overall quality of the software.
The development stage is where the most extensive testing is performed by a QA team. At this phase, software developers start writing the source code for the software.
These days, most software requires a significant amount of coding to add a greater amount of functionality options, all of which require intensive and rigorous testing.
These are various types of QA testing performed during this stage. Let’s have a look at two fundamental testing methods during the development process:
- Component testing: It helps in checking the class, module, object, and other components of the application. An artificial environment is created to check each component in isolation. Also, the QA team develops test cases based on expected system reactions to detect bugs and find weaknesses in the overall system’s
- Cross-platform testing: Most software products are designed to work on different platforms, which is why it’s crucial to check whether it’s working correctly on each one. This testing is performed using automated and manual testing. The automated testing is performed using a virtual machine that tests the software under different environmental Subsequently, manual testing is performed by simulating anticipated user actions.
Automated testing processes play a vital role in quality assurance, especially in a big project where many functions require testing.
There are many bugs found by an automated system that manual QA testers may miss, particularly in areas that require complex and intricate functions.
Furthermore, automated testing is extremely useful in regression testing and creating multifaceted scenarios, which are not possible when testing manually.
The final stage of testing is performed pre-deployment, which is a two-step process. The first testing is performed on beta-deployment, which provides the QA team enough time to find bugs and fix them.
The second testing is performed just before the deployment, where the software is tested again before the product is released. Again, multiple types of testing are performed during the deployment stage as well, which include:
- Regression testing: It helps to ensure that all the bugs and errors are fixed, and debugging did not give rise to the additional ones. Moreover, it helps in testing various functions of the software and making sure that the product meets the quality standards set during the initial phase of the project.
- Stress testing: It helps in the identification of issues that may lead to system malfunctioning. The QA team creates a simulation, which puts a high load on the software to determine its tolerance level. This test is performed before the software release to ensure the software remains functioning and operational.
- Security testing: As the name implies, security testing is performed by the QA team to detect and fix security-related bugs. It helps in eliminating any loopholes or vulnerabilities in the software that may lead to unauthorized access or data leakage.
Importance of Quality Assurance in Software Testing
When it comes to software development, the process of quality assurance holds extremely high value and must never be understated.
Poor QA testing can result in an ineffective final product with lots of bugs and errors. Here are some of the key benefits that will help you understand the importance of quality assurance in software testing.
Security is one of the most crucial areas of any software. A system with vulnerabilities and gateways for hackers to exploit can result in unauthorized access and data breach, which can lead to catastrophic situations.
It’s important that software is robust, highly secure and able to withstand potential hacking attempts made by cybercriminals. It’s equally important to keep physical security aspects in mind as perpetrators can also use some sort of hacking device to get access inside the software.
Taking a proactive approach performing rigorous QA helps to ensure that software security is impenetrable, and the user data and sensitive information are safe and secure, which can save company lots of trouble in the future.
There are several case studies of security blunder cases on the internet, which shows how important it is to treat software security as a top priority, especially during the debugging and testing period.
When we speak of software development, the quality of a final product largely depends on the testing and quality assurance process. Also, it’s one of the most difficult areas to work with, as qualitative factors can vary.
Primarily, good-quality software has the following characteristics:
- Properly aligned graphics
- Functional user interface
- Intuitive menus and programs
- Efficient software architecture
- Ability to handle the load
- Secure and protected
Moreover, software should also be compatible with different devices and operating systems, when applicable. It’s important to learn that during the debugging stage; a lot of new problems can arise.
Competent QA testers take these factors into consideration and use different testing methods to ensure that the final product is free from bugs and errors.
Quality assurance and testing can help in saving a considerable amount of money both, during the development process and in the long run. Bugs and errors that are identified at earlier stages are easier to fix and don’t waste the time of developers.
The time it takes to write codes for the program is valuable and has opportunity costs attached to it. Therefore, it’s critical to get QA during the initial stages to protect the investment and keep the costs under control.
Let’s take an illustration. An e-commerce store has designed an app that allows its customers to make purchases with a single tap. However, when the customer tries to sign up to create an account, it shows an error message or redirects them to a broken page.
Now, this will have several repercussions. Firstly, it’ll lead to customer dissatisfaction and decrease their confidence in the brand. Secondly, the business will lose money because the transaction cannot be performed. Finally, the business will have to spend money to get the error fixed, which may consume lots of valuable business time, money, and resources.
Another example can be taken from a famous incident that happened in 1996 with The First National Bank of Chicago. A software glitch caused the bank account of 823 customers to be credited with a total of $920 million. The reason was found to be inadequate testing.
Customer satisfaction is arguably the goal of every software application. The highly competitive business environment really doesn’t allow the business to remain successful and profitable if they provide the best possible user experience to their customers.
Once shattered, a customer’s trust is not easy to gain back. Particularly when your software has glitches and bugs, users are unlikely to give an application a second chance and take their business to competitors.
An application of the software that’s functional and free from bugs and errors will result in high customer satisfaction, thus they’ll be likely to come back and purchase your products or services again.
Moreover, social media and review platforms have made things very transparent these days. A good customer experience gains positive business reviews, which helps them attract more customers.
A couple of years ago, British Airways faced a huge problem as their IT system crashed, which resulted in the cancellation of all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick. The British Airways official website was also down for around two hours. As a result, they faced severe disruption in their flight operations worldwide and suffered a heavy financial loss due to flight cancellations.
QA and testing ensure software run consistently and reliably without presenting errors or crashing. It also verifies that it caters to the requirements of a client in terms of performance, functionality, usability, security, and every other aspect that’s important for the client.
Consequently, the result is not only bug-free, efficient software, but also a stable and viable product that’s ready to compete in the market with other products. This is particularly prominent in specific industries. Let’s take the example of an e-commerce business.
According to the stats, users hardly spend around 15 seconds on a website before bouncing off. For mobile devices, it’s even less. Now, if the software is not properly tested and the website and mobile app contain bugs and glitches, can you expect customers to continue navigating or revisit their website or app? Probably not!
That’s just a simplified example to help you understand the consequences of not giving software testing the importance it deserves. With alternates and substitutes available for virtually every product and service, it’s important to provide the best user experience to ensure the software can compete in the market.
We hope this blog gives you a good idea of what QA is and why it’s crucial to ensure the success of an application. Maintaining an in-house QA team may not be possible for many software companies—especially SMEs. Moreover, professionals with reliable QA testing skills are often short in supply.
Therefore, it’s better to outsource the QA task to a nearshore outsourcing company that have a team of dedicated and expert QA testers. As a result, your software goes through rigorous testing and quality assurance, ensuring that your software is free from bugs, errors, and serves the functions it’s intended for.
Looking for reliable, top-class quality assurance in software testing services to ensure your software meets the specified requirement and free from errors? Get in touch with EX2 Outcoding. We offer a variety of quality assurance in software testing services to our clients. Our dynamic QA team with years of professional experience and expertise works closely with developers since day one to ensure the indisputable quality of your final product. To learn more about our offerings, call us at +1 800 974 7219 ext. 202 or visit our website.