A Bird’s Eye View Of Software Quality Assurance Explained
People often ask how to build a successful startup team. One of the many cornerstones of robust Software Development is Software Quality Assurance or QA, as is more commonly known. Software quality assurance has huge importance in the software industry. They are most useful in product development and are one of the most important team roles for a technical startup. QA plays a significant role in ensuring that any system works as intended and is ready to meet the hectic demands of the real world. Read after the jump to know more about QA and its wonders.
Most of the time, efforts are stressed upon acquiring right techniques and tools in the product development phase. Of course, this is till your application refuses to work upon first impact with the customer. That is when a team starts all the way from the top to fix a problem, rather than preventing it in the first place. The latter, smarter option, is Quality Assurance.
Understanding Quality Assurance
Companies focused on delivering a robust product to their customers employ fool-proof Quality Management processes. A subset of the overall system, Focus of Quality assurance is on procedures, processes and implementation cycles that are to complete a product’s development. Contrary to popular belief, it is a preventive approach rather than a reactive measure to make necessary improvements in the processes that eventually create quality products.
Responsibilities of a Quality Assurance Engineer
What are Software Quality Engineers (SQA) Engineers? In Hiring The Right Team For Your Startup, we suggested getting a Quality Assurance Engineer is essential for a tech startup team. Many might ask if this position is really that crucial so as to make it one of your initial hires. We say absolutely! Here’s why:
SQA Engineers have a lot of uses. SQA engineers ensure organizational, as well as global standards of technology in vast areas of the company. In a nutshell, Some major Roles of SQA Engineers are mentioned below:
- Monitor software bugs detected and track known test defects.
- Document the defects found and report them to the developers team.
- Analyze the effects of changes made, as a response to the defects.
- Input technical assistance in the products development phase by pointing out potential problems.
- Consolidate test strategies.
- Schedule tests within the duration of projects development.
Engineer(s) appointed to this task tackle varying challenges to achieve one end goal: Quality. These engineers are to contemplate creative solutions to tricky situations and break the system. Thus, the responsibility of SQA engineers is that they must be ready to spend long hours preparing the right test cases to diagnose problems that might halt processes and delay delivery of the product.
How to Maintain Quality Assurance in Software Testing
In order to maintain order, a typical quality assurance department adheres to a process similar to the Deming Cycle.
At the very beginning, we create plans for each individual process that the company indulges in and their relevant objectives. This forms the roadmap that, ideally, is accomplished.
Next comes the practical implementation of all plans that were initially made. Procedures and processes that when designed are put into action to monitor the results they produce. These results are analysed by comparing ideal plans with the practical implementation to highlight where the problem lies, if there is one. Subsequently, changes suggested bridging this gap by the engineers on the team.
The last stage of this iterative process is to implement to bring results closer to the goals. The loop works over and over again until the quality is finalized.
Factors of Software Quality Checkup
There are certain parameters that software complies by that the engineer assures such as:
- Reliability: It is crucial that the software has maximum up time. Reliability Test when applied will ensure that the system will continue working without failure.
- Functionality: The software must check all the requirements that it must fulfil. It has no use if it deviates from what its purpose.
- Efficiency: Other than ensuring functionality, QA Engineers also monitor inefficient facets of the system and call for their optimization.
Types Of Software Testing For SQA Engineers
As of today, many different types of testing techniques are for Software Quality Assurance. The most well-known of these are as follows:
- Unit Testing: A unit is the smallest part of an application or source code that checks errors. These tests are during products development so as to ensure that the individual pieces that build the entire structure are faults.
- Integration Testing: This tests the functionality of a group of modules, to check if they interact with one another as per the requirements.
- Regression Testing: A regression test is every time a new module adds to the existing group to check if any errors caused are by this addition. It ensures that the new addition works with the modules in a seamless manner.
- Smoke Testing: These test the strength and stability of the system to check whether it is ready for further testing.
- Alpha Testing: The QA engineer carries out Alpha testing before a feature launches to the customers. It checks for errors after the completion of the entire products development cycle.
- Beta Testing: Unlike other tests, this one is carried out by a group of end-users via customer websites.
- System Testing: Using the Black Box testing technique, System tests conducts to ensure that software works for all operating systems. Along with that, the software tests against specific requirements that it is for.
- Stress Testing: The software checks for robustness so it can survive through varying situations, and handle errors without crashing down.
- Performance Testing: During run-time, the system undergoes performance testing to check for responsiveness and stability to pinpoint areas of optimization.
Tools For Quality Assurance
Some of the commonly used testing tools that can get your QA process up and running are as follows:
- Testpad: Testpad is a web application that can be used for manual testing. Some of its features include:
- Allows guest testers to be invited via email address.
- Allows the addition of new tests, if a new idea springs up.
- Exploratory Testing, with the option to add new tests during sessions.
- Adaptable for both tablet and mobile phones.
- TestMonitor: TestMonitor can be used for end-to-end test management tools that can handle heavy testing seamlessly. It also includes the following features:
- Simple User Interface.
- Allows managing a number of tests and running them within minutes.
- It tracks the results of testing, showing performance over time.
- IBM Rational Quality Manager: It is a collaborative tool that allows planning, construction and management of tests. It supports user roles such as:
- Test Manager.
- Test Architect.
- Lead Tester.
- Lab Managers.
Load Testing Tools
These tools perform load or performance tests on software. This testing is targeted to determine how much traffic the system can simultaneously handle. Some examples are as follows:
- Silk Performer: It is a load tester that is not only easy on the pocket but also heavy stress testing due to cloud integration support. Noteworthy features include:
- Runs swift analysis to narrow down the area of problem.
- Supports all browsers, from Firefox to PhantomJS.
- Supports a network emulation feature that simulates various network conditions.
- Agileload: It tests business applications of software development implemented in a distributive manner and aims to enhance their functionality before meeting the market. A few of its features are:
- Swift and efficient analysis / diagnostics.
- Allows QA Engineers to customize tests according to objectives.
- Intuitive user interface allows real-life businesses scenarios to be replicated and tested.
- Allows customization to fit business applications needs
Defect Tracking Tools
These tools track bugs and defects in the software created. We really recommend using these to ensuring efficient tracking and closure of not only QA-related issues but in software project management in general:
- Atlassian JIRA: Arguably one of the most used project management systems out there, JIRA definitely takes the poll as a great productivity software that makes managing projects very easy. Why? Because:
- Allows workflow to be customized according to specific needs.
- Efficient task management.
- Quick filters can be created using JIRA Query language.
- Beautiful user interface.
- Plethora of choices for tracking project performance.
- FogBugz: Why FogBugz? This is why:
- Quick notifications to keep concerned participants up-to-date with changes in the software.
- Allows task management to enhance productivity.
- Supports options for agile management.
- Bugzilla: Some of Bugzilla’s crowning features that might tempt you to try it out are as follows:
- Includes automatic duplicate bug detection.
- Allows time tracking throughout the course of the project.
- Create bug lists in a number of formats like Atom, iCal etc.
- Creates reports and charts of the progress.
Over the course of this blog, we hope that the benefits of having an efficient Quality Assurance system with a trained professional are obvious. Yet, to point a few, the main advantages of a QA system are that it corrects any ups and downs with the product that can occur before and after it’s launched.
It cuts costs that would otherwise be incurred if a defective software is brought back for re-work. More working hours will be spent trying to study the software from the top trying to uncover that one problematic bit. It is also problematic for the client to halt work to have the software repaired which can lead to losing confidence of the client and reducing the chances of a long-term relationship of mutual benefit.
Thus, an effective QA system allows for greater user experience and increased software up-time. Problems in these could potentially halt crucial business processes of your startup, resulting in a huge loss of profits. So, preventing this is a chance to build a credit brand image and uphold integrity.
Hence, Quality Assurance is Responsible Better Software Development
Imagine sending lamps to a 100 customers with faulty wiring. The product is there but, well, it won’t work as it should. Now customers would want refunds or repairs that will incur extra shipping costs to your company and tarnish brand image too. That’s when you think that if you had tried using them before shipping them, the entire fiasco could have been prevented.
Mitigating any such problems, before or after product launch is what Quality Assurance is all about. Licensed to make and break your system all the time, these are the creative minds that reduce bugs and build stronger products. Hence, strong QA epitomizes better software development.