What is Quality Assurance?
Maintaining the desired level of quality in a product or a service in every stage of production plays a significant role. Especially when the business niche is an IT field, the quality of the software delivered is what the clients are always looking for in a company before signing the contract. Hence, the process of software quality assurance came into the picture.
By software quality assurance, here I am drawing your attention towards a process of observing the processes involved in the software engineering cycle and measures to maintain the quality in the software to be delivered once it is developed.
Why do you need a QA?
After discussing what software quality assurance means, let’s have a quick brief on why there is a need for quality assurance. Some of the reasons to ensure quality assurance of software can be as follow:
1. Avoiding Failures:
If you could recall what happened at RIM Company, back in 2011, the company faced an issue in the malfunctioning to its primary as well as a backup system. Because of that, lots of users across the world had to suffer. Even after the issue was resolved, the company had to face significant fallout, on the stack of its brand name. This situation might be avoided if the company had given high priority to maintaining the quality of the systems.
This situation led to an invention of the SQM, i.e., Software quality management, by the company’s developers, which consisted of a variety of platforms as well as applications that were used to monitor the quality of the software.
2. Creating a Quality-based atmosphere:
The SQM module discussed in the above point consisted of three layers: Software Quality Assurance Company (includes the standards and practices to assure a good software quality), Software Quality plan (includes a set of rules and regulations for maintaining the software quality), and finally Software quality control that controls the above two layers.
Hence, a good software quality management module will protect the software from various issues and ensure a quality based atmosphere in the company.
3. Improvement in the development process:
Starting from the developers, team leaders, project managers, general managers to the directors, all will be benefited by maintaining the software quality.
This system can also be utilized by the external stakeholders of the software like the client with whom the development project is being finalized, and hence can monitor the progress and activities of the developers and leaders working on the project and can also keep track of the software quality, whether it is being maintained at every stage of the life cycle.
4. Company-Wide Results:
Increasing productivity, better management of project teams, better efficiency in project planning, etc. are some of the advantages of software quality assurance that can be observed in the working of the whole company.
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What are the QA standards you should take into consideration?
One needs to keep in mind regarding some of the standards that need to be assured while undergoing the software quality assurance procedure. These are:
1. The standard of ISO 9000:
This requires the fulfillment of seven different principles of quality management, which is used in deciding whether the organizations have maintained the quality of their products and services based on client requirements.
These seven principles can be listed as focus on the customer, leadership in the team, engaging people in the development of the product, approach for the planned process, improvement in development strategies and products, decision making that can be easily justified, and managing the relationship with stakeholders.
2. CMMI levels:
CMMI is the short form for “Capability Maturity Model Integration.”
This model could be applied directly to the quality assurance process in a project. There are 5 levels for CMMI, which also defines the characteristics fulfilled at each level. These can be listed as:
- a. Level 1-Initial level
- b. Level 2- Managed
- c. Level 3- Defined
- d. Level 4- Quantitatively Managed
- e. Level 5: Optimizing
An organization and its processes are monitored and then awarded a level from CMMI levels.
3. Test Maturity Model Integration (TMMI):
Based on CMMI, this model also focuses on maturity levels concerning software quality management and testing. These levels are the same as those in the CMMI.
Difference between Software Quality Assurance and Software Testing:
Now, one might get confused with the terms of software quality assurance and software testing, and think that both the processes are the same. But this is not true. Let’s have a look at the differences between these two processes.
Quality Assurance vs. Software Testing:
Hence, we conclude that the process of SQA and Software testing are not the same.
Differences between Software Quality Assurance and Quality Control:
There might be some confusion between software quality assurance and quality control, as they seem to have the same meaning. But, certain aspects make them different terminologies and processes. So, what is the difference between quality control and quality assurance? Let’s have a brief about it.
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control:
How does Software Quality Assurance Work?
Standard QA Procedure
Getting what exactly QA procedure means, now let us have a look at the process for assuring quality for the product. These include a series of steps, which are as follows:
1. Requirement Analysis of the product:
The skilled professionals are assigned for the given task to analyze all functional as well as non-functional requirements of the product.
2. Planning of Test Cases:
The information gained from the first step is used in test planning. This may contain varying strategies, covering the scope of the test, budget issues and timelines, levels of CMMI and TMMI, tracking the bugs and reporting them to the developers, etc.
3. Designing Test procedure:
Various test cases are fixed, concerning the requirement of the software product. These may contain various test conditions, data, steps to carry out testing, expected output, etc.
4. Execution of the procedure and reporting the defect:
Unit testing is performed initially by the developing team. The UI and API levels are being checked by the testing team. Previously designed test cases are being checked manually later on. Also, the teams run the prepared testing scripts on the given product.
Once the bugs and the defects are properly fixed, retesting is done by the team to make sure that there are no more bugs or defects available even after fixing the product.
The testing team performs the smoke testing for the assurance that the final product after all the recommended modifications is defect-free and has maintained all the standards for quality.
QA Process Set-up
For an efficient QA set-up procedure, the QA professional will require to take the following steps:
1. Auditing the current process of QA:
Assessment of the parameters like a project, change in requirements, knowledge, documentation, etc. needs to be monitored by the QA professionals thoroughly.
2. Designing of a new QA procedure:
Once the auditing process is completed, if required, the QA professionals redesign the procedure to meet the standards for quality assurance.
3. Implementing the latest procedure:
Once the strategy has been defined in the procedure, it is implemented.
4. Monitoring the changes and its effects on the products:
Once the QA procedure is completed, the effects of the changes made to the project are monitored, and based on that, the decision is taken regarding the delivery of the product or modifying it.
Business Benefits of Quality Assurance:
When we talk about QA, one common question is encountered: What is the importance of Software Quality Assurance? So, let’s have a brief about the business benefits of SQA and why most of the quality assurance companies have their main focus on it:
- Productive and Efficient deliverables
- Outstanding User experience
- Helps in developing confident client-business relationship
- Increase in the number of satisfied customers
How do QA Teams Determine Software Quality?
Every organization focuses on the procedure to achieve software quality. But the question is, how does the team of the quality assurance company determine whether the standards for quality have been maintained?
To carry out this task, the company uses two approaches: managing the defects and quality attributes. The approach for managing the defects in the product is utilized to monitor the bugs and defects. The amount can be identified by using various charts and graphs designed by the team.
The second approach, attributes’ qualities, focuses on the following six characteristics to determine the quality of the software. These are functionalities, reliability, uses, efficiency, maintenance, and finally, portability of the product.
Quality Assurance Functions
The following list defines quality assurance functions:
- Technology Transfer: Before deployment, the product document, test cases, etc. are distributed to all in the organization.
- Validation: Approval regarding the software quality assurance is taken.
- Documentation: Approval of all documents related to the project.
- Planning for improving quality
- Guarantee for the quality of the products
Elements of Software Quality Assurance
The ten required elements for software quality assurance can be listed as follows:
- Software development standards
- Review of technical aspects and auditing them
- Testing of the software with a quality point of view
- Collecting and analyzing errors
- Managing changes
- Education-based programs
- Managing vendors
- Managing Securities
- Managing risks of the organization
Techniques of Quality Assurance
- Inspecting the products to check whether standards are maintained or not
- General discussion via meeting where all the stakeholders review the product
- Inspecting the code for the software product
- Checking the design whether it meets the client’s requirements
- Modeling the product via simulation
- Testing of what the product does, without considering how it works
- Ensuring quality by reducing ambiguous codes
- Algorithmic analysis
- Peer reviewing the project code
- White-box testing
- Checking the system robustness
- Making the software defect-free using the six sigma technique.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in QA
There are some of the common mistakes the team might make while undergoing the QA process. These are:
- Incorrect analysis for the occurring defects
- Fear of asking doubts
- Tricks used in automation
- Does not concentrate on user experience
- Do not accept the mistake when the bug is found due to him
Ways to Improve Your Quality Assurance
You can have a break from the conventional roles and responsibilities of the QA team using the latest automated tools. These are the best practices for quality assurance;
- You need to select your standards that will define the quality of the product.
- Give priorities to the bug fixing process based on the importance of the module.
- Go for a two-level approach for testing automation.
- Get in touch with the development team
- Build up a dedicated QA team.
- Build up a dedicated team for testing the performance of the product.
- Initiate regression testing
- Simulation before production
- Undergo sanity testing
If you want your product to stand out from the crowd and want to achieve a winning position in the market, then you must take care of quality assurance standards. The better the quality of the software will be the superior your business performance and financial position will be.
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