Quality Assurance in Software Testing: Role & Methods
In the traditional software approach, software teams performed QA testing at the later stages of the development process. In development models such as Waterfall, the product was developed and passed along to the Quality Assurance team, who tested the software and offered feedback.
By highlighting internal issues of the software, they helped the development team resolve issues before the product was released into the market. However, this changed as software teams adopted the Agile development approach.
In Agile development models, the Quality Assurance Team works collaboratively with the development team and helps them make improvements regularly. However, as everyone, including operators, developers, and testers have a shared responsibility for ensuring high-quality end product in Agile approaches, QA can feel out of place for some teams.
Moreover, with automated software testing added to the fix, things become even more complex, as the team leads to wonder whether they still need QA in today’s fast-paced development process. Despite what seems to be the case, QA still plays an important role in helping teams deliver high-quality software.
In this article, we will discuss the roles and methods of Quality Assurance in software testing and argue why it still is vital for ensuring the best quality of software.
Table of Contents
- QA Definition
- Importance of QA in Software Testing
- QA Process
- Best Practices for Quality Assurance
- International Quality Assurance Standards
Quality assurance (QA) is the process of validating whether a product fulfills a company or industry’s quality requirements or not. It’s an essential part of ensuring the quality of production and includes processes such as planning, fulfilling, and monitoring.
QA sets standard procedures for ensuring software quality and helps software teams deliver consistent results. As a result, organizations can ensure that their development and production processes are able to get the desired results by hitting specific quality benchmarks.
In other words, QA involves every activity that ensures standards, procedures, and validates whether the software meets the set criteria of quality before the product is released to the public. However, QA doesn’t involve actual software testing. Instead, it focuses on maintaining a process oriented approach for ensuring the best outcome.
Importance of QA in Software Testing
Quality assurance helps the software team ensure that they are building the right product using a meticulous method. The main objective of your QA team is to deliver the value of the project, leaving their objectives and timelines.
This is why it’s their job to focus on specific nuances of quality checks, as well as the transparency and sanitation of the workflows, database, and applications. After an application runs through smoothly by the QA, it gives a positive first impression and assures outputs will be bug-free.
As a QA professional, one must have a broad understanding of all critical roles within the project. At the same time, they must provide feedback to make improvements and report whether or not the development team is meeting the prerequisites defined by the client.
Many companies prefer their developers to test the software product themselves. However, since developers are already under so much pressure and responsibility, it’s hard for them to assess their code against standards accurately.
Moreover, whenever if the developers were cross-checking their code against standards, such issues won’t arise in the first place. Because of this, errors related to QA are a regular part of code submissions by developers. Even if your development team puts their best efforts, resolving these bugs will be challenging.
As DevOps principles slowly become the norm, development environments, too, will become more agile in terms of roles and responsibilities. Because integrated DevOps environments don’t have the space to focus on standards and procedures separately, QA might become a regular feature of the development process with time.
Here are a few ways Quality Assurance, influences application development nowadays:
- As QA ensures the implementation of standard requirements and procedures, the planned course of action by the QA team guarantees product quality and success.
- QA helps the entire software team in terms of reporting paperwork, documentation, and associated data.
- QA ensures that all essential procedures are being followed throughout the entire development cycle.
- QA team performs activities such as testing, process monitoring, audits, as well as product evaluation to improve productivity.
- QA gives a transparent outlook of collaboration and management for DevOps teams.
Quality assurance breaks down to a defined cycle known as the Deming cycle. Many professionals call it the PDCA cycle because of the phases used in this cycle, which are:
The QA team repeats these steps to ensure that all the processes followed by the software team are assessed and enhanced intermittently. The following is a detailed definition of all essential processes:
The company needs to plan and establish process-related objectives and goals. Doing so will help teams understand whether particular processes are needed to deliver a high-quality product.
Creating and testing of standardized processes and making changes to traditional workflows if they fail to meet standards.
Monitoring processes, modifying the processes, and evaluating whether those changes meet the predetermined objectives
Execute actions necessary for achieving key improvements in the processes
Quality Assurance serves as the means to make sure that a product is designed and implemented using the right procedures. Doing so helps software teams minimize problems and errors in the ultimate product.
Best Practices for Quality Assurance
While ensuring quality assurance in the domain of software development is difficult, implementing best practices for quality assurance can help you meet all required standards.
Implement a Two-Tier Approach to Test Automation
In case a developer makes a commit to the main trunk breaks during the build, it’s essential for the QA team to inform management as soon as possible. Although it isn’t possible to apply exhaustive system tests for each commit, adopting a two-tier approach can help resolve this problem.
Exhaustive system tests take too long, and even if they find an issue, most developers might move on to something else. In the two-tier approach, the first tier is triggered whenever there is a commit to the code base. These triggers give rapid validation of developer changes and since they are used with sanity tests, they can execute changes within several minutes.
At the same time, the second tier two applies exhaustive regression testing and functions automatically when developers are not making any changes (i.e., when working hours close). This way, the QA team has additional time to test changes.
Judging between the right amount of light or exhaustive testing in each tier is gained through experience. However, after applying this procedure to your set-up, the QA team can learn how to quickly balance between nighttime regression testing and daytime sanity testing.
Create Dedicated Security Testing Team
In many cases, clients consume software products in the form of software as a service (SaaS) offerings. Therefore, software teams have to data on servers, and security testing becomes a must before each release.
On SaaS platforms, if users discover security vulnerabilities, it can drive them away quickly. This is why QA teams should form a dedicated security testing team that is responsible for performing penetration testing on stable versions. These tests should ideally be performed for a full week on deliverables that are a part of soon-to-be-released updates and products.
Before they start testing, the QA team can brief them about new features that may occur in upcoming product environments and releases. The testing team can benefit from that information and test for security vulnerabilities more comprehensively.
Create a Dedicated Performance Testing Team
Once you have a stable version of the product, it’s useful to have a dedicated performance testing team run tests. This can help software QA teams brief understand how new versions and features can lead to performance risks.
If your development team introduces a set of new features that don’t affect performance (i.e., features a button on the screen), performing only regression tests is sufficient. However, if new features can affect the performance of the product, it’s best to write and execute new performance tests.
Ideally, it’s best to update your performance and security with relevant information and give them an environment that simulates production. Doing so can help performance testers uncover significant bottlenecks in external, internal, and third-party SaaS environments. However, if your performance team doesn’t have the chance to test the environment, the likelihood of crashes is significantly higher.
Perform a Regression Cycle
Performing the regression cycle at the end of product stabilization gives you the green light to move to production. At this point, the changes required in development are small, so you can use this opportunity to validate the entire product.
You can model the product as a tree and define the hierarchy of components and module branches to help your team understand the solution from the client’s side. Once a branch is modified, the hierarchy can tell which one of the branches will be affected and, thus, require additional QA testing.
Simulate Customer Accounts on Production
Companies that save customer data in databases have to make sure that it remains compatible and consistent with new versions of software your team releases. This is why when QA teams run data migration testing.
It’s best to create test accounts, which you will manage on your production system. You can then use this account for generating data continuously and populating it with your databases. After you release a new version, you can perform updates to see any data was damaged.
In case there were bugs that corrupted, you should resolve them at the highest priority. Similarly, your QA and testing teams need to perform manual backwards compatibility testing while they find automated and more efficient methods. Regardless, performing manual testing at this level will be necessary as it is one of the final stages before production.
Perform Sanity Tests on Production
Performing sanity tests on production accounts post-release are essential for validating all the work you expect the system to perform. You should perform tests on current production account, but then switch to newly created account for validating whether the process continues to work well as new clients sign up.
This is why QA teams must conduct sanity testing half the time, as part of the team validates the new account while the other one tests the old account. In the end, the team test third-party components, so they can ensure version compatibility.
International Quality Assurance Standards
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) operates as a global institution ensuring quality across various counties. ISO is composed of standards organizations that span across 160 nations. It maintains an effective quality assurance system for manufacturing and service industries.
One subset of the ISO standards is the ISO 9000 family. It provides the basis for management systems that help companies meet statutory and regulatory requirements, so they can ensure both customer needs and product quality.
Although the 9000 standard as a generic standard for software quality, the quality assurance model contained in 9000-3 provides companies with a management model suited for IT. It is technology-independent, so you can apply it regardless of the technology you used in your hardware, software, or your development environment.
ISO 9000-3 provides crucial insight into the scope of activities that the ISO 9001 model covers. In the 9000-3 standard, the QA team can reference to specific documents, including test plans, development plans, quality plans, etc.
PFLB has served over 500 companies across all domains, from finance and healthcare to retail and technology since its inception. Being one of the pioneering software testing services in the industry, we have implemented the accepted set of quality standards across all different projects and industries.
Our adherence to Software Quality Assurance standard has helped us to deliver not only the best performing solution but also products that fulfil all industry quality requirements.
By trusting on their expertise, your business can benefit from core software testing & quality assurance services and ensure that your products meet industry demands and shines in terms of quality and performance.
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