The importance of quality assurance in software development
Although sometimes quality assurance (QA) and testing are considered to mean the same, that is not quite true. In fact, there is a third term that is worth considering — quality control. In this article, we will focus primarily on QA, as it essentially encompasses the other two processes mentioned. We will also look at how quality assurance influences the quality of a product and enlist the benefits it brings to the business. For now, let’s examine three terms more closely to avoid confusion later on.
Quality assurance (QA) in custom software development introduces a proactive approach. This method aims to create and sustain the highest practices, guidelines, and procedures throughout the entire process of making a product. Its goal is to avoid errors by guaranteeing that the software aligns with the outlined specifications and meets well-established benchmarks.
uality control (QC) is a reactive process. It includes reviewing the digital product or its components at various stages to make sure it meets quality expectations before being released. This includes code reviews, design inspections, checking documentation, and conducting tests to find any issues or deviations from expected behavior.
Testing is a part of QC focused on executing applications or system components with the aim of discovering defects or bugs within them. The primary goal of testing is identifying whether a component functions as intended according to rules defined in technical specifications which helps confirm whether it meets user needs.
Therefore, QA is a proactive process aiming at preventing defects through standardization and adherence to set procedures throughout development, unlike QC, which identifies existing problems after they have been introduced into the application, while testing focuses on finding these issues. Let’s then focus on the most complex process of quality assurance in software development and see how it influences the result.
How does the QA ensure the high quality of the end product?
In short, by adopting a proactive prevention strategy to recognize and eliminate potential issues before they become problematic during late-stage development. How is it provided? We should look into the cycle of QA to answer this question. The QA workflow typically consists of several steps, which can be outlined as follows:
Step 1. Perform requirement analysis
At the beginning of any project, QA analysts review and analyze the specifications to check if they are clear, consistent, and testable. This step involves close collaboration with stakeholders such as business analysts, developers, clients, or product owners to clarify ambiguities.
Step 2. Define metrics and quality standards
QAs work with various teams to establish benchmarks for success by determining key performance indicators, metrics on code quality, user experience expectations, or regulatory compliance factors against which the software will be evaluated in the process of development.
Step 3. Test planning and strategy development
Based on analyzed requirements and defined objectives, QAs develop a comprehensive testing plan involving test scenarios selection, covering possible real-use case situations. This eases both discovering potential pitfalls and delivering comprehensively tested end-products.
Step 4. Test case development
QA develops detailed test cases, which include descriptions of input conditions or data sets required to verify expected output behavior for individual functionalities and components under various situations.
In general, regular reviews of design documents, codebase updates, or other deliverables help spot potential issues early in the development phase leading to quicker resolution times while saving resources and leading to better quality. Yet, there are other benefits like cost savings, risk minimization, improved collaboration, enhanced security, and marketability boost. Let’s now take a closer look at them.
Benefits of implementing quality assurance in software development
QA plays a crucial role in preventing expensive product recalls, user dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, monetary loss for businesses. Dealing with all these outcomes after product launch entails a much higher cost. Moreover, with QA measures in place, businesses cement their reputation as a reliable and trustworthy brand by providing a pre-vetted robust product.
The proactivity of QA not only prevents costly errors but also streamlines development, resulting in reduced time-to-market and lower production costs. Consequently, companies with robust QA mechanisms have a competitive advantage, as their products are more reliable, cost-effective, and appealing to customers.
Therefore, money saving is mostly provided by preventing issues that won’t need to be improved in the later stages. Apart from losing money, there are other risks that QA can handle.
The absence of a robust QA can expose a business to multiple risks, leading to its ultimate failure. Here are some examples of problems that can result from ignoring the importance of quality assurance in software development:
Quality issues. Foregoing QA can result in the release of low-quality products or services, destroy consumer trust, and tarnish brand image.
Legal issues. In extreme cases, businesses might find themselves mired in legal disputes if their products or services cause harm or financial losses to their consumers.
Workflow issues. Without a comprehensive QA strategy that fosters a culture of continuous improvement, the software company team might not be motivated to address flaws.
Competition issues. If the company’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability remain at stake, making it vulnerable to being eclipsed by rivals that prioritize QA to deliver a good product.
At Ronas IT, in order to prevent risks like those mentioned above, we run automated tests during server-side development. We have chosen to prioritize this aspect as the backend is the most crucial component, encompassing essential business logic. Normally, frontend and mobile applications typically undergo significant alterations, with clients frequently requesting design modifications, as well as the addition or removal of specific features.
As a result, frontend testing is typically reserved for the later stages. By doing so, we can assign priority to the examination of particular development elements as needed. Furthermore, we’ve opted to integrate QA within the overall workflow by incorporating developers in the procedure. As a result, each team member becomes accountable for the final product’s quality.
We previously stated that incorporating QA into the workflow is crucial for the optimal release of a product. However, there are other aspects to integrating QA into these procedures. QA automatic tests can play a great role in promoting collaboration through integration with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices. By adding automatic QA tests to CI/CD pipeline, one can be sure that instead of delays due to manual testing, the whole team remains dedicated to delivering top-notch software, meeting deadlines, and satisfying customers with the product.
Collaboration among cross-functional teams is further enhanced by incorporating Agile methodologies in software development, which stress iterative development, ongoing improvement, and close collaboration between stakeholders. Within an Agile setting, QA seamlessly merges with development, permitting swifter feedback and informed decision-making, ultimately leading to superior digital products.
Furthermore, QA plays a crucial role in protecting future users’ data, as it serves as a valuable tool for ensuring security.
Enhanced security is achieved through QA, which proactively conducts tests to define and address potential issues before their escalation. In the realm of software development, quality assurance boosts security using various tactics and techniques. Some methods by which QA enhances protection from attacks include:
Uncovering vulnerabilities. QA testers strive to detect and expose possible weak spots in the software, such as weak passwords, SQL injection, or cross-site scripting, before releasing it to end users.
Conducting security audits. Regular security audits help identify outdated or insecure components and flaws in the software’s design, development, and deployment processes.
Performing penetration testing. Penetration testing involves simulating real-life cyber attacks on the software to identify potential issues and assess its overall security posture.
Implementing secure coding practices. QA teams ensure that developers follow industry-standard secure coding practices to mitigate security risks and reduce vulnerabilities in the software.
Assessing third-party integrations. QA teams validate the security of external APIs or third-party libraries used within the product to prevent security breaches from trusted sources.
Testing access controls. QA teams test the software’s access controls to ensure that unauthorized users cannot access sensitive information or execute unintended actions.
Regularly updating and patching. QA ensures that the product is regularly updated and patched to protect against known vulnerabilities and emerging threats.
Ensuring data privacy. QA testers ensure that sensitive data is encrypted and securely stored and that data handling processes adhere to privacy regulations and best practices.
By integrating these techniques within the development workflow, QA can notably improve the safety and dependability of software, ultimately leading to a more secure experience for users. Data protection is a crucial aspect of providing a positive user experience, which plays a role in the marketing triumph of a software solution. The upcoming section discusses the connection between marketing and QA in other aspects.
By ensuring the product’s quality, reliability, and overall user experience, QA practices can improve market positioning and brand reputation, as well as create a strong foundation for marketing efforts. The following illustrates how QA can assist with the marketing of a software product.
Firstly, QA minimizes customer support costs. When software testing and QA are effectively implemented, potential defects are proactively mitigated. This reduces the likelihood of customer complaints and the need for extensive customer support, allowing marketing budgets to be better allocated toward promotional activities.
Additionally, QA has an impact on improving user experience (UX). In the realm of software development, QA aims at user experience to ensure that the app’s usability, accessibility, and performance align with the needs of users. A smooth and delightful UX can serve as a compelling marketing element for attracting and retaining customers.
In addition, QA enhances brand reputation and trust. Companies that consistently deliver well-tested products show a positive brand image and establish trust among their customers. This trust generates loyalty and can even turn customers into brand ambassadors, resulting in effective organic marketing.
Thus, QA practices help deliver a high-quality, reliable product that corresponds to user expectations, ultimately improving brand reputation and market position. Investing in these processes creates a strong foundation for successful marketing campaigns, leading to better customer satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term business growth.
In order not to be unfounded, the following are examples of two startups, the success of which was influenced by attentiveness to QA or its absence.
A notable example of a software startup that failed because of the lack of proper QA is Wesabe, a personal finance management startup founded in 2005. A startup aimed to revolutionize the way consumers manage their finances. However, Wesabe fell short of providing a seamless user experience and suffered from numerous performance issues due to the absence of QA processes.
As a result, Mint.com which invested in thorough testing quickly emerged as the market leader, ultimately being acquired by Intuit for $170 million in 2009. Meanwhile, Wesabe, unable to keep up with the competition and recover from its QA shortcomings, ceased its operations in 2010.
Conversely, Slack, the well-known communication and collaboration platform established in 2009, flourished due to its significant focus on QA and evaluation. Prior to making the product available to the masses, Slack’s team carried out a thoroughly closed beta testing phase, involving numerous businesses to gather extensive input on the platform’s user experience, features, and efficiency.
This approach to QA allowed them to identify pain points before the official launch, leading to a more polished and reliable product. As a result, Slack rapidly gained popularity and massive adoption across various industries and is currently valued at over $26 billion.
Quality assurance provides the high quality of the end product, as well as offering numerous benefits across various development processes. By implementing QA practices, companies can streamline their workflow, enhance reliability, and ultimately surpass customer expectations.
As exemplified in the showcased instances, integrating quality assurance with the software development process can lead to significant improvements in the product and overall success. By investing in QA for your projects, you can experience the profound impact it has on both your product and your business.