The Role of Quality Assurance in Software Development

Walid Abou-Halloun

Posted by Walid Abou-Halloun Date: Jan 22, 2021 7:59:11 AM

When you work in tech, you know that there’s nothing worse than having to deal with a bug.

Bugs can make or break companies. Some high profile bugs have cost plenty of talented programmers and their employers a lot of money, and have made embarrassing PR nightmares.

How can programmers and software companies ensure that their products are bug-free and ready to hit the market?

Having a robust software quality assurance team can help catch bugs before the software is released.

Curious about why software quality assurance should be a focus for your company? Here’s why…

Benefits of Software Quality Assurance

There are reasons why big software companies have entire departments devoted to quality assurance.

When you make software quality assurance a pillar of your company, you’ll reap the benefits.

Ensure Your Software is Serving Its Intended Purpose

When you’re developing software, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration.

When everyone on your dev team is working on different pieces of the final package, the final product can feel a little scattered and disjointed.

Do you want to make sure that your insurance policy management software delivers on the promise that it can process payments for doctor’s offices? Are you worried about making sure that your tax accounting software is getting updates from the Tax Office?

Software quality assurance testing ensures that you’re on track to deliver exactly what you originally promised in terms of functionality.

Avoid Human Bias

Coders should be expected to build functional code, but human errors and biases can still get along the way.

There’s a reason why successful software development agencies have departments devoted to quality assurance testers. The code needs to be reviewed by impartial parties before a software can be released.

Human bias can make things difficult when it comes to testing.

The developer who wrote the code knows what it’s supposed to do and how it’s supposed to look. They can easily gloss over errors in code because they’re expecting something to be there.

Cater to All Platforms

It’s rare for people to use one device—most people use a combination of their smartphones, laptops, and desktops to use technology. People also use different browsers and operating systems.

That variety can help the consumer, but it can be problematic for developers that don’t properly test their devices.

A program on a Galaxy S8 can look completely different on an iPhone 8. There can even be difficulties between different versions of the same devices.

Properly testing your program on every device possible can achieve the best outcome for customers. It can ensure that everyone has the best experience possible and that you’re properly serving every customer’s needs.

Be Prepared for Any Outcome

Software developers spend a lot of time focusing on the user experience and mapping out the user journey. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, circumstances may prevent them from taking their intended path to purchase.

You don’t want your user to angrily push the submit button 10 times in a row when something isn’t loading fast enough. 

It’s important to anticipate any possible outcome.

Proper software quality assurance involves testing for every possible action, circumstance and outcome. The right tests can tell you exactly what will happen in some of the strangest scenarios.

Quality is Everything To Users

Think about the last time you tried to view a website that didn’t load or had broken links. Consider what you did the last time your “favorite” app crashed.

In those scenarios, you probably got frustrated and either left the website, stopped using the app or website, or possibly deleted the app or closed the webpage altogether.

A quality user experience is important for every app and tech experience on the market. People wouldn’t want to waste their time struggling to use something because they expect them to work well already.

Investing in testing and software quality assurance can guarantee that whatever you release is held to a respectable standard of quality.

Essential Software Quality Assurance Practices

Now that you know how important software quality assurance is, you just might be eager to start applying the quality principles to your software development right away.

But, there’s a lot that need to come together first for you to have a truly comprehensive quality assurance plan.

If you want to start using the best quality assurance practices in your development work, make sure you follow these tips.

Develop a Process

It doesn’t matter if you can think of 25 different ways to properly test your software, or if you think you can narrow everything down to just five. Regardless of what you decide to do, you need to have a process for testing.

A set process makes sure that you will be compelled to be consistent to test software regardless of who is doing the testing.

Too many companies make the mistake of letting quality assurance testers develop their own process for testing. This may help with comfort and familiarity, but it’s terrible for results.

When everyone is using a different way to test software, it’s difficult to analyse the results and be confident that they are accurate. Having a consistent testing method is the way to get the best results possible, keep it consistent and make sure that nothing gets left out.

Choose a Reasonable Release Criteria

Everyone wants to have a 100% bug-free piece of software to put on the market. But unfortunately, bugs are a natural part of the software development and maintenance process.

Even huge developers like Apple and Microsoft have to release occasional patches and updates. That’s why it’s important to set your release standards for what you view as a public-ready product.

Talk to stakeholders to learn what they view as release must-haves. If you’re updating code, take time to research how changes can affect the existing code base.

Also be sure to take your developer’s opinions into consideration. They may have noticed some inconsistencies with code or tests. Their input can make the difference between an excellent software and a problematic one.

Rank Bugs

You want your product to be as error-free as possible, right? But when you’re up against deadlines and release dates, some tasks become more important than others.

An essential function that keeps breaking is something that needs to be addressed before release. An issue with color or fonts shouldn’t be a high priority.

It’s also important to think about how many people certain bugs can affect.

There may be bugs that only affect people with a certain webpage or phone that hasn’t been popular in five years. A bug may only pop up in 1% of tests.

If you’re really pushed against the wall, prioritise fixing bugs that can impact a larger number of potential users.

Make Detailed Requests

Simply asking a tester to ‘see if they can break something’ isn’t an effective software quality assurance method.

If you want to test software properly, make sure you give testers specific areas and functionality that they can test.

Ask a tester to focus on the login features, while you ask another to focus on how users can log out and save their information for the next login session.

When you have testers focused on specific tasks, they can easily find potential problems. On the flip side, when they work on an array of bugs from different sources, they can easily miss things.

Divide and Conquer

It’s easy to view software as one product. But when you break everything down, a working software program is a variety of separate functionalities that come together to work.

Your software is an amalgamation of different things, so you should divide testing tasks based on function.

Have some testers devoted to looking for bugs in security and others in performance and functionality.

When testers are focused on certain software functions, they can cover all points to make sure that they’re properly working.

Software security is very different from general software performance. Having specialised programmers focusing on different aspects and functionalities of the software can produce better results.

Have More Than One Set of Eyes

Did you have a programmer run through a particularly rigorous test? Were they one of your most knowledgeable and competent programmers on staff?

Have someone else look at their work.

When you do, you can be sure that nothing is missed, a different set of eyes can spot errors more easily.

Assigning multiple people to look at the codes is also a great way to cross train some of your testers.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned about software quality assurance, you may be looking for other ways to improve your software and technology offerings.

Need assistance? Contact us and let us look at the next steps you can take.

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