Why test? The importance of QA in software development
The high quality is one of the key factors that most successful apps have in common. In an extremely competitive digital market, it becomes harder to keep up with the ever-growing customer demands. Besides lots of things, your product should have a seamless user experience and be error-free functioning. Moreover, you have to prevent any glitches and make sure the app can handle high loads.
Probably most software development vendors will promise you high-quality software. But how do they achieve that? Do programmers write bug-free code? (of course they not) The answer is testing.
In this article, you’ll find out what is QA and why it’s important. We will describe the role of QA in the development process.
What is QA?
Testing, Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) – these terms are often confused. They are all related to one another: QA is the broadest concept, it includes QC, which includes testing.
QA or Quality Assurance is a proactive process focusing on preventing errors that may occur during development. It is integrated into all stages of software development, from project description to testing, release, and even post-release. Besides, QA improves internal dev. practices by implementing various tactics to enhance quality at all stages of production.
QC or Quality Control is a reactive process focuses on identifying defects. QC activities verify that the project results meet the defined quality standards.
While QA determines methodologies and standards to be followed to meet the customer requirements. QC, in turn, ensures that these standards are followed while working on the product. If QA is performed during a full software development lifecycle, QC is responsible for the software testing life cycle.
Testing is a part of QC. It is the process of evaluating a system or its parts to detect bugs in the product, so they can be fixed.
However, the aim of the three notions is removing and preventing errors.
So usually by QA software testing, most people understand the combinations of these processes.
The role of QA engineer
You’ve probably thought, why do we even need separate people to do quality assurance? Shouldn’t developers do their testing? This topic might be controversial. There’re active supporters from both sides.
Many development teams do unit testing and perform automated, integrated, code-based tests by themselves. However, it usually takes a significant amount of time they could have spent developing new features.
Sometimes coders overrate their code, assuming there are no bugs in it, so the proper testing is being bypassed.
Moreover, when developers work on one section of the application, it can be hard to understand how the entire app works.
Of course, some developers test their code properly, and if the developer-testing is managed well, there won’t be issues with such an approach.
QA engineers have a different set of skills than developers.
They help define project requirements, identify weaknesses and inconsistencies, provide data about the level of quality and test a product during all stages of software dev. lifecycle.
Often, they are quite meticulous and refuse to accept that not finding an error means there is none. They know all the aspects of the app and try to push a system into unobvious directions. When only code-based tests aren’t enough, QAs as well provide a creative human element, enhancing the success of coded tests.
Recently, a balanced approach has been gaining popularity. It means that developers test their code and QA engineers check it in the full spectrum of application functionality.
Why QA is important?
It saves you time and money
There is a famous saying – Prevention is better than cure.
Nowadays, speed to market is what plays a significant role in business success. You want your product release as soon as possible. At the same time, longer development will usually cost you more, which sounds not so appealing.
However, you should always invest some time and money resources into QA.
The sooner you detect an error detected, the cheaper it is to fix it. Fixing one bug on the later stages of development or after the release can lead to other bugs, and eventually to the rebuilding of the whole product.
There are quite many cases when minor bugs caused huge losses for businesses. Both in terms of money and reputation (which is usually followed by money loses as well)
In 2019 the British Airways canceled over a hundred flights, and near 300 was delayed. All because the system completely went down. They had to switch to manual check-in processes. Thousands of passengers had to wait in fully packed airports. What is more, it wasn’t the first time BA had problems with their applications. The pattern repeated over the last few years and caused huge customer dissatisfaction and big financial losses for the company.
Another well-know software failure happened last year with Facebook. The users had some troubles with loading images on Facebook, and other its apps such as Whatsapp, Instagram Messenger. This error caused a lot of angry comments. These days social media are so popular, especially thanks to the ability to upload visual content. Bugs in this part of the system, cost company ads refunds, and reputation losses.
Have you heard about how Amazon stole Christmas? In December 2014, prices on Amazon suddenly dropped to 1 penny. Happy shoppers ordered a lot of items, and due to the fast Amazon delivery system, the vendors couldn’t cancel the orders. Many businesses lost a huge amount of money and went bankrupt. It was caused by a small error in third party software called RepricerExpress.
Of course, we all make mistakes, and there’s no bugless software. But to reduce the risk which may cause big issues for business, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of QA.
It’s hard to gain the trust of customers, especially when the product is glitching. If the users of the app have a bad experience, they’ll probably leave an angry review, stop using it and go to your competitor.
Moreover, the first impression is crucial when it comes to software products. So investing in testing from the beginning, and not fixing errors after the release can help your business to attract long-term users and stand out.
There’re a lot of cases when a user’s private information has been stolen or used for someone’s benefit because of the weak system.
People want to get trustworthy and safe products. So the protection of personal data and cybersecurity has become an important issue these days. A few years ago the European Union created a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The companies must comply with it, otherwise, they risk receiving huge fines.
And here testing also helps your product security. For example, vulnerability testing can prevent the danger of being hacked, eliminating risks and problems beforehand.
To summarize, QA plays a huge role in project success. So don’t underestimate its value. Having a QA specialist in your team will make the development more productive and the work of developers more efficient.
Using the best practices of Quality Assurance ensures that the product complies with the requirements and works as it should. In the long run, QA saves you time and money, makes your product competitive, helps to create and maintain a good reputation.