Quality Assurance and its importance in software development
By Flávia Fernandes
What is Quality Assurance and why is it important?
Quality assurance is the process of managing software quality throughout the development process. It is the act of testing, improving and ensuring that products manufactured meet performance standards with high quality. It is also one of the most important steps within the development process.
Quality assurance not only helps prevent defects in the software being developed, but also ensures that customers receive the highest quality products, services and solutions.
Methods used by the Quality Assurance team
There are several methods that can be used to ensure the quality of a software. Some of the more common methods include:
Non-functional tests ensure that a system works correctly. These tests are to verify the characteristics of the software along with the process of developing it. Some examples of non-functional tests include:
- Performance testing: ensures that the software meets performance requirements and remains responsive throughout execution.
- Stress testing: ensures that the software can handle a high load of requests without failing;
- Load testing: ensures that the software will perform well when used by different types and numbers of users simultaneously.
Unlike non-functional testing, functional testing ensures that a part of the software works as expected. Some examples of these tests include:
- UI (User Interface) Testing: Ensures that a UI works correctly;
- Integration testing: tests features together to ensure they work correctly in combination;
- Data testing: ensures that the data is valid and not corrupted;
- Unit testing: tests individual code modules to ensure they behave as expected and do not have bugs or other issues.
The security test verifies that the system remains secure throughout its run. It tests areas of software where vulnerabilities may be present, exploiting the system through attacks. Some examples :
- Penetration testing: tests a system and its features to determine if there are vulnerabilities that can be exploited;
- Secure Encryption: ensures that all security information (including passwords) is encrypted and not stored in plain text;
Top reasons why quality assurance is important
There are numerous reasons why quality assurance is an integral part of software development projects. Here are some reasons why it's important to include QA experts on your project team.
Quality assurance results in fewer defects
The purpose of software testing done by the quality assurance team is to improve the quality and functionality of the system by finding problems early in the development process. As the software develops, the QA (a professional who works with Quality Assurance) creates documentation with the most important scenarios of the system and repeats these tests of the documentation regularly. Thus, it finds bugs faster and minimizes future errors.
Quality assurance reduces maintenance expenses
QA testing can be used to reduce maintenance expenses by ensuring proper testing of new versions and patches. For example, if a bug is identified in a legacy system, creating an efficient test plan saves time in reproducing the bug and provides specific steps for developers to find a solution.
Quality control reduces time to market for software
A solid, comprehensive QA test plan helps ensure your product is ready for release. This includes testing end-to-end functionality to verify that all components of a system are fully compatible and seamlessly integrated.
Some reasons that can cause bugs
A bug is a defect that happens in software. Bugs can occur for a variety of reasons and may vary depending on the project. However, the most common causes of bugs in software are:
Conflicting requirements: customers have ideas and know what result they want to achieve, but they are not familiar with the characteristics and peculiarities of software development. Lack of knowledge often results in ambiguous or contradictory design requirements. One of QA's responsibilities is requirements validation.
Changing requirements: The business environment is well known for its rapidly changing nature. However, when it comes to software development, any small change in requirements can delay the project launch for months, especially when the team does not include a QA expert. In the event that requirements changes derail the project, QA experts will point out all the risks so that customers can weigh all the tradeoffs to decide if they really need these changes.
Project size and complexity: Large and complex projects require more than one developer, and when this occurs, testing and quality assurance should always be included. Programmers are not robots and can make mistakes in code. Without proper QA analysis and testing, a mistake made early on can turn into a big problem later on.
Finishing someone else's work: If the project was originated by another development group and for some reason was handed over to a new team to finish the project, QA must be in place on the new team to ensure that there aren't serious mistakes left by the predecessors. The new team should always start doing their work after QA confirms that everything is ok or points out what needs to be fixed initially in order to proceed.
Critical thinking ensures positive outcome
People believe that since they are going to hire professional developers, they should test their own code and very well. This thought is wrong for different reasons.
- Developers and QA experts think differently. When a developer thinks their code is of the highest quality, QA thinks otherwise. By default, they are more skeptical and look for bugs as proof.
- It's easier to find bugs in someone else's work. When developers test their own code, everything can seem logical because they wrote it and every author loves their creation.
- The expert QA is motivated to find bugs and errors rather than hiding them.
- The QA engineer has the mind of a hacker who wants to damage the product or its reputation in the market. Therefore, by using different test combinations to break into the software and find all the weak points, quality control increases the security of the software.
Quality Assurance in software development is an essential activity. It ensures that your product behaves reliably and securely as defined in a way that makes sense to the end user. Quality assurance ensures that the software meets all requirements, is error-free and looks natural. By outlining some critical reasons why quality assurance is important, we hope you realize the importance of quality control and why it should not be neglected.