Quality assurance is the set of processes that a business uses to ensure that its products meet certain quality standards.
Any developer knows that it’s impossible to create a 100% error-free body of code, which necessitates a testing phase. Besides bugs, there are also performance issues and missed requirements that can pop up. The process of ensuring that products meet a minimum level of quality is known as quality assurance, and it’s an inseparable component of any development cycle.
In this article, we look at quality assurance in software products, the different forms, and how it differs from quality control.
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What is QA?
Quality assurance, or QA for short, is the set of processes that ensures your products meet certain quality standards. These processes are active all over the product development cycle, from production to packaging and delivery.
In a nutshell, the purpose of QA is to detect errors and issues before they occur in a final product. More broadly, QA’s goal is to uphold the quality of the product development process, saving time and resources.
QA in Software Development
QA occupies the validation and testing step in the software development cycle. Agile frameworks will also have QA coming into play during every iterative sprint, to check that the work done during the sprint is well-optimized.
QA has a formal space in the testing and validation phases of the software development cycle. However, in practice, quality assurance is part of all phases of product development. This ensures that QA is able to observe how and where defects occur at every step.
Example of QA
Let’s imagine a company that builds CRM software with a variety of modular features.
Upon completion of each feature, QA tests each module of the software without connecting it to the rest of the application. This so-called unit testing ensures that the code for each feature is implemented correctly in isolation. This is a quick way of determining that the feature is functional without having to see how it interacts with the rest of the code. For example, a QA engineer may test the ability of the CRM to ingest data from a CSV file and add a large number of customer entries at once.
Once unit testing is completed and any code errors resolved, it’s then tested in concert with other features to see how they interact. This is called integration testing.
For example, you might test the data ingestion feature with the feature that allows you to manually enter contact information. This ensures that both features are outputting the same format of data to the system.
Prior to delivery, the code is tested not on the basis of individual features, but on requirements. This is called functional testing. One example is testing the ability of the CRM to integrate with other management software.
All of these testing techniques take place across the development life cycle and are critical parts of quality assurance.
Role of Quality Assurance Engineers
Quality assurance engineers are a specialized role that focuses on testing software products. They create test methodologies, as well as execute and evaluate both manual and automated tests. They are also often the designers of quality assurance standards that help improve development overall.
Every software development team deals with unique requirements and the same goes for their QA engineers. Some of the most important roles that a QA engineer may have include:
- Compliance testing
- Usability testing
- Unit and integration testing
- Bug analysis
- Documentation of tests and QA processes
- Development of quality improvement strategies
When hiring good QA engineers, you want to be sure that they have excellent communicators and thrive in team settings. This is because they need to work closely with your development teams in order to ensure quality products at all times.
Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control
People often use quality assurance and quality control (QC) interchangeably, but they represent uniquely different processes.
The principal difference between the two is that QA investigates the causes and drivers behind defects and then takes steps to prevent them from arising. QA is therefore an ongoing process that takes place across the entire development cycle.
QC, on the other hand, addresses defects and issues based on the standards that QA sets. They perform their role after the completion of the product. In essence, QA is a preventive, proactive process, while QC is a reactive process that identifies and corrects defects.
The purpose of QA is to detect errors and issues before they occur in a final product. More broadly, QA’s goal is to uphold the quality of the product development process, saving time and resources.
QA: An Investment in Your Product’s Future
For some companies, it’s tempting to skimp on QA, but it’s not the best idea. While you might choose to assign the same engineers to both product development and testing, the process of QA requires a certain perspective and set of skills that shouldn’t be your product developers’ responsibility.
Instead, your best bet is to get an extra set of eyes from outside the sprint since they can expose weaknesses and help improve your products in ways a product developer might not think of. QA is always worth the investment and ensures that you only produce top-quality products.