Software quality assurance is essential in its development process. Here’s a guide to the proper steps to ensure a bug-free application.
Think of any product or service you’ve had, bought, or used. Chances are, all of them went through something called quality assurance or QA. QA keeps customers happy, allowing companies to offer products or services with consistently high quality. If the product fails to go through QA testing, then falters at the hands of the customer, it won’t look good for the brand.
Tech products also undergo QA testing. In computers and laptops, everything from the hardware to the software is QA tested to withstand use and abuse because they are meant to last a long time. For example, about 62% of mobile phone app uninstalls are driven by crashes. Software failure is detrimental to the business; hence, QA testing is vital so that audiences can use the software for a long time.
What Does Software QA Mean?
According to Merriam-Webster, Quality Assurance means “a program for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met.” This means that any production line must meet specific standards and ensure marketability before being sent out to the public.
Software development also goes through QA to ensure that all the engineering processes, coding, methods, and activities are monitored and comply with the standards.
Software QA (SQA) incorporates everything in the software development process, from defining requirements to coding until release. There are several activities or a checklist to properly QA a software, ensuring that all boxes are ticked and that the products underwent each step to provide the highest quality to users.
What are the Activities Under SQA?
Software quality assurance is comprised of different functions. Each company has its standards, but these are the activities that are common to typical software quality assurance operations.
- Drafting a software QA management plan
There first needs to be a proper plan regarding how the software QA will be done in your project. All stakeholders will review the program, and the SQA and engineering teams will perform the QA. The plan will identify calculations, audits, reviews, and standards for the project.
- Setting up checkpoints at each project stage
Each stage is set up with different checkpoints according to which quality it evaluates. This process makes the inspection more regular throughout the life of the product.
- Conducting formal technical reviews
The format technical review discusses the quality requirements of the software, along with the design quality of the prototype. This process detects errors in the early phases of the project.
- Choosing a multi-testing approach
Multiple types of software testing ensure that it is assessed from all angles.
- Measuring the impact of changes
If there are any defects reported, the concerned team fixes them. Afterward, the QA team tests if the changes solved the flaw and are compatible with the whole project. Software quality metrics allow managers and developers to observe the activities and proposed changes from start to end.
- Adherence to standards and processes
Everything must be according to standard procedures and regulations to ensure the best quality. If non-compliance is found, the appropriate parties must act on any reported QA issues.
How to Make a Software QA Plan
The SQA testing process is a complex and sensitive endeavor. Not only is the scope broad, but one wrong line of code can cascade to numerous bugs in the final product. Creating a comprehensive SQA plan will help narrow down the scope of the project and help quickly scale back to a previous iteration of the software if something catastrophic happens. An SQA test plan comprises the following sections:
- Software configuration management
- Bug reporting and corrective action
- Code control section
- Testing methodology
The Software Testing Process
A detailed QA process clearly defines the requirements, gives testers an understanding of the features, and a blueprint for progress. Before implementing a QA process, you need to understand the stages that ensure a thorough quality assurance pipeline.
- Analyze the requirements
It will be hard to find and document errors if you do not know what you’re looking for. QA professionals should analyze and clarify the software requirements—both functional and non-functional—to have a game plan moving forward. This ensures that the conditions are clear, consistent, testable, complete, and traceable.
- Plan the test
QA professionals gain more knowledge at the requirements analysis stage to use as a basis for test planning. According to IEEE 29119-3, a testing plan should cover a testing scope, test strategy, project budget and deadlines, bug tracking and reporting procedures, types and levels of testing, resources, and responsibilities.
- Design how the testing will be executed
During this phase, the QA specialists test cases covering software requirements. It evaluates data and the steps needed to validate a particular functionality.
If test automation is in scope, the engineers also create test automation scenarios at the test design stage. The test environment should closely mimic the production environment of hardware, software, operating system settings, network configurations, available databases, etc.
- Execute and document
This phase starts at the unit level when the development team tests the software. Next, the engineers execute the test cases and submit the discovered defect through a defect tracking system. Finally, test automation engineers use a selected framework like Selenium, Appium, and Protractor to execute automated test scripts and generate reports.
- Run regression tests
Once the defect is found and fixed, the test engineers retest functionality to ensure that the changes did not negatively affect anything.
- Release testing
After the development team releases a notification, the test team identifies software functionality and makes sure the build is stable. They then execute the identified test suites and publish the results when finished.
11 Types of SQA Tests
Tests are placed to ensure that the software you’re developing will not falter under pressure and withstand the different stress levels it can experience with an end-user. With testing, QA testers can see where the software lacks and excels. Here are the different types of testing done to ensure quality products.
Functional testing ignores the internal parts and only pays attention to the output to check its requirements. Some examples of this type of testing include
- Unit Test – A programmer tests an individual software component because it requires specific knowledge of the internal program code.
- Smoke Test – The testing team ensures a stable build and checks for no-show stopper defects in the build.
- Sanity Test – This testing determines if the new software version is performing well enough to accept it for a significant testing effort or not.
- Integration Test – This test ensures the combined functionality after integration.
- Beta Test – This is conducted by the customer and performed in a real environment before releasing to actual end-users.
There is a separate team for this type of testing, and they are involved with the testing of non-functional requirements like stress testing, recovery testing, volume, or load testing.
- Load Test – The objective is to see how much load a system can handle without performance degradation.
- Stress Tests – This type of test is done to check if a system will fail during extreme stresses beyond what was specified.
- Volume Test – This type of testing checks system behavior and application response time when it comes across a high volume of data. A high volume of data may impact processing time and performance.
- Performance Test – It’s done to check whether the system meets the performance requirements.
- Security Test – Security tests are done to check if the software is secure from internal and external threats like viruses and malicious programs and how strong the authorization and processes are.
- Recovery Test – This testing validates how well the software recovers from crashes. Recovery tests determine if the system can continue its operation after a disaster.
How Software Engineers Perform QA Tests
There may be some confusion about what and how testing is done, so here’s a list of QA tests and how software engineers perform them.
This is a traditional software application QA method wherein the test cases are done manually without tools. A certain level of knowledge about the application is needed. Here, testers play the role of the end-user and try to find as many bugs as they can. These bugs are collated into bug reports then passed to developers to review and fix.
The methodology checks the feasibility of your application for automation testing, apart from resolving bugs. It’s efficient but time-consuming and resource-intensive.
This methodology is a process wherein an automation tool executes the test cases. The aim is to simplify and increase efficiency in the testing process. Some tests suited to this type are integration, acceptance, and functional testing.
A crowd-sourced method offers many testers in different locations access multiple devices. They aim to find bugs, documents proper steps, and provide bug reports. The concept is that two heads—or in this case, multiple—are better than one.
With this cost-effective methodology, testing results are delivered quickly. However, this relies on the goodwill of volunteers, and since the code will be published publicly, it may not be suitable for something that will handle sensitive data.
Plainly speaking, it’s when you don’t ask or acquire the services of other testers but your own. This method is cost-efficient, provides good domain and product knowledge, and can cater to more specified needs because of its face-to-face interaction.
However, testing requirements differ throughout the year, which means there may be a resource gap. Retaining, reducing, or adding to an internal testing team is more expensive than the outsourcing or crowd-sourced option.
This method means that a third party, usually an expert in a specific field, conducts software testing. Not only does this allow for a new set of eyes to help solve the problem, but it is also cost-effective, as you get to augment your IT staff for a set fee without the need for hiring and training.
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Commonly Used SQA Techniques
There are several techniques for SQA. Of course, auditing is the chief technique that is widely adopted. However, here are a few other significant methods.
- Auditing. This SQA technique inspects the work to see if all standards and requirements are followed.
- Code Inspection. This formal code review uses status testing to find bugs and defects. It requires a trained peer or mediator, not the original developer.
- Simulation. This technique mimics real-life situations that allow assessors to examine the system’s behavior.
- Static Analysis. This is done via an automated tool without actually executing the program.
- Walkthroughs. These are peer reviews where a developer guides a team about a product. Members can raise questions or comments, point out errors, and even suggest alternatives.
- Six Sigma. This is a statistical- and data-driven process that reviews mistakes or defects and aims to provide a nearly-perfect product or service. Six Sigma seeks to improve processes so that the produced software is 99.76% defect-free.
QA Testing: Don’t Let the Bugs Bite
Software quality assurance testing is an integral part of software development. Good, meticulous, and top-service quality testing will ensure a seamless software experience for your end-users and favorable reviews for your company.
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