Popularized in World War II, the term Quality Assurance (QA) is defined as “the process of verifying whether a product meets the required specifications and customer expectations. QA is a process-driven approach that facilitates and defines goals regarding product design, development and production. The primary goal of Quality Assurance is tracking and resolving deficiencies before product release.”
In other words, Quality Assurance is a way of preventing mistakes and defects in manufactured products and is a way of avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers. ISO 9000, which is the set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance, defines QA as “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.”
Quality assurance in software development
When it comes to software development, Quality Assurance refers to a systematic approach to development that looks at the entire development process to deliver working software. Most importantly, QA is necessary to prevent future mistakes.
Ideally approached from multiple angles, QA is also needed to analyze the functionality and overall appearance of a website or app. This can include cross-browser testing, screen resolution compatibility testing, grammar, spelling and functionality to name a few. For example, when you want to test a ‘contact us’ form, QA testing means that the email field would be checked to make sure that a valid email address is entered, the name fields do not accept numbers or special characters, and that there are limits to making sure that too many characters can’t be entered.
It is usually a QA engineers job to review these features, but you can also use QA testing services to check them before the website or app is released. Engineers and services can also suggest edits and approve code while the app or website is being developed rather than doing it all in one go at the end.
QA testing is not an easy task, and therefore there needs to be a certain amount of time dedicated to it by someone who knows what they’re doing. The tester or engineer needs to know precisely what is needed in order to prevent issues that could arise from external sources. For example, if your website is still running a flash player, this will soon be out of date as browsers are now discontinuing support for flash players. A good QA tester would need to have this knowledge and be up to date with other issues similar to this which could affect your site or app either when it’s released or looking ahead into the future.
When things go wrong with websites and apps, they can cause irreparable damage to a business, for example, if customers are unable to register or buy your product or service, then they will go somewhere else and may never come back as they won’t need to and they’ll have a bad impression. If data is accessed or stolen; or if services which users subscribe to and pay for aren’t working, this is highly likely to cause a lot of damage to the company’s reputation as well as loss in money and future business.
Quality Assurance needs to be done along the way, as each part of the site or app is created; payment systems need to be checked to make sure any money from users or customers is going to the right place when a customer makes a payment and not to a random bank account.
Processes to make sure that QA is checked regularly not only mean that the product’s quality is monitored, but it also allows money to be saved as a preventative measure as well. Trying to fix bugs down the line is far more costly than preventing a bug and as fixing one bug can create another means that problems can escalate quickly.
Reputation is something else that QA can protect. If a user has a bad experience, they’ll be unlikely to use the product again as first impressions are hard to change.
Testing is vital as it means that testers can provide additional documentation for training and customer use, and tests contain the information developers need to understand full application functionality and its integration points. This can help developers with their next app or site as they learn from the one before.
Many businesses have attempted to move away from having only QA testers, but have found out that when they do so, customer complaints increase.
Also, many development teams are producing and releasing codes consistently so speed is essential and speed to the market is necessary for a business’ success.
QA testing vs developer-based testing
QA is, of course, not the only option out there as there is also the option to use developer based testing rather than QA-based testing. There are arguments on both sides as to which one is the best as there are strengths and weaknesses to each approach.
Developer-based testing means that developers often test their own work. However, it means that they end up spending a lot of their time testing when they could be writing more codes or creating new features. Testing can slow down the development process and decrease coding productivity.
Developers are also not testers, and there is a reason for that. QA testing requires a distinct set of skills that are entirely different from those of a successful developer. The jobs are two very different things, and often developers see testing as boring, repetitive and far too complicated. But, if well managed, developer testing can be a really productive part of your QA program and can work really well to accomplish both feature development and testing.
How QA testers really work
QA testers need self-assurance, the ability to think creatively all the time and confidence to test and report bugs to developers. Quality Assurance testers also need to perform non-obvious functions that push an application or website in different directions, often where it was never intended to go. Testers are looking for bugs and defects and looking for the site or app to fail to ensure the very best quality; they have to use their imaginations to anticipate what the customer might do, and they need to have experience with a variety of web and mobile applications so that they can compare against them.
Ultimately, Quality Assurance testers work best within or alongside a team of developers because both groups are very productive when they work closely together. They are able to communicate as they go along and fix any issues as they arise.
QA testers usually possess the following attributes: attention to detail, analytical thinking, proactiveness, flexibility, and self-motivation. Good QA testers should always think outside the box, use their Initiative, have a willingness to absorb new technologies, boast of persistence, work professionally in a fast-paced environment, have strong verbal and written communication skills, and possess outstanding problem-solving and analytical skills.
Without QA, managers can’t be confident in their products, the role of QA tester is mandatory in the development life cycle of a product. It minimizes the risks and ensures quality in the workflow of the finished product. To have no QA tester maximizes risk and has vast consequences. Good businesses should be willing to invest in the quality of their products.
QA testing adds excellent value and ensures the customer that everything possible has been done to guarantee that the application is of excellent quality and will meet the defined requirements of the project.