Quality assurance is vital in any business, but nowhere is that more true than in software development. Software is a vast, complex machine, with countless moving parts behind it.
Bugs are inevitable, but poor software QA can result in a mess of bugs, or a flat-out broken program. That results in poor sales and reviews. And that results in a failed business.
Good quality assurance is essential, but it’s also difficult. Luckily, there’s plenty of established tactics for ensuring your end product is the best it can be.
Let’s take a look at some QA techniques, so you can better test your products before they ship.
What Is QA in Software?
At its core, software quality assurance is the same as in any other field. It’s about testing the product, to ensure that it works as intended with as few issues as possible.
Software testing is a bit more complicated than that, however. Software is built on a lot of small parts, and these parts are often invisible to the user. Your code has to be carefully analyzed to find and fix issues as they arise.
Because of this, QA in software has to be a joint effort between your testing team and your programmers. The programmers need to keep a detailed list of features for the program.
For example, they need to detail how the software is supposed to work. They also need to keep track of their design and implementation. This will help them better locate any issues in the code that the testing team notices.
For the QA team, they have to be exceptionally thorough in their testing. They need to check every aspect of the software, from its from performance and functionality to security.
They also need to detail all of their test cases, which outline their exact process during each test. This includes what aspect of the software they were testing and how they tested it. This helps the programmers locate the source of issues more easily.
Setting up a Software QA Process
As we’ve seen, testing software is a complex process. The first step to successful QA is having a reliable protocol for testing in place. This helps keep everyone on the same page and minimizes confusion.
How do you set up an effective QA process? It all starts with requirements. These are a list of things that are, well, required by the software. QA should be involved in this process, as defining requirements early can help your programmers to better avoid major issues.
From there, you’ll need to plan and design your QA tests. These plans need to be as thorough as possible. Here, you’ll establish the scope of your testing, deadlines, and other important measures.
While planning, be sure to try to take into account unexpected use by the user. Much like no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no software survives contact with the user.
Your tests need to take into account unexpected inputs by the user, which may result in bugs that might have otherwise never occurred.
Designing your tests should start with something called exploratory testing, where your QA team familiarize themselves with the software. Then, you can design your tests.
These designs need to include a step-by-step process for the testing. Creating a system for testing streamlines the process, and makes it easier to pinpoint when and where issues arise.
After initial tests have been run, retests are required to make sure the fix that was implemented works. Regression testing is also important. This is used to make sure that the fix hasn’t caused unexpected issues elsewhere.
Finally, you need to ensure that testing runs throughout the development process. From the beginning of software development to the end, QA testing needs to be constantly occurring.
Avoiding Issues During QA
The most important thing in quality assurance is organization. Above all else, if your testing isn’t well defined and well documented, it can be a waste of time and money.
Since QA teams are often testing multiple projects at once, organization is key. Data needs to be securely stored and clearly labeled. Storing this information on a cloud service is a great idea.
As part of your initial planning phase, it would be a good idea to write a list of key features that must be tested. This will help keep your QA team on track and help them organize their tests more efficiently.
Good training is also important. This will help ensure that testers are following the standards outlined for the team. A good system means nothing if people aren’t using it.
Some companies have even turned to dedicated QA testing teams. Places like Qualitylogic.com offer QA services to software development companies.
These can be a great option, particularly for start-ups and smaller teams, which may not have the resources to do testing themselves.
Proper communication is vital here, as the previous points still stand. You need to be clear about your product and goals. But done right, contracted quality assurance can be a great option.
Proper QA Makes for a Better Product
Quality assurance is vital to a clean, functional final product. With a disciplined team, clear goals, and good organization, you can spot most issues before the software enters the wild.
It’s inevitable that some bugs will slip through during development. No one can test every single possible case in software. But thorough software QA can resolve most problems.
So make sure you have an efficient plan for testing in place on your next software project. Whether your testers are in-house, or you’re hiring a testing team, make sure to lay out a solid testing plan.
If you have any other questions about technology or business, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We have plenty of great articles designed to help you out with technology, business, or anything else.