Given the intense competition in businesses today, delivering top-quality products or services is critical. While concepts and design are also super important, they become useless if your product does not work correctly for users. Thus, maintaining high-quality standards will help you stand out, stay competitive, and meet customer expectations continuously.
It is especially true in tech, where quality assurance is key to ensuring efficiency and minimising defects in software development. If you are unfamiliar with the process, continue reading to learn more about what steps you need to take to design a proper workflow.
Quality Assurance Process
Businesses often confuse quality assurance (QA) with quality control (QC), despite the two being different things. In general, QA aims to improve your product’s quality and prevent failures, while QC is more reactive since it involves identifying bugs or errors once you develop your product.
In that sense, your QA team will be involved in the whole development stage. To better understand what you need to do; here are the main steps in the quality assurance process cycle.
- Plan: To start, identify your problem or opportunity and plan what processes are needed to achieve your goals. From here, you should collect the relevant data, hypothesise the root cause of problems, and come up with potential solutions.
- Do: At this stage, you can execute a small-scale implementation of your chosen solution to test out different processes and make adjustments, if necessary. Remember to collect data and measure results to gauge the effectiveness of your solutions.
- Check: After conducting the processes in the previous stage, you can compare the actual results to your desired results and find similarities or differences. If you find that the product is up to standard, you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise, you go back to the first step to plan new processes.
- Act: This final stage involves applying the changes and modifications to your development project. While this is technically the last step in the process, it is worth noting that QA is a continuous cycle, so you should monitor your project and iterate processes.
Quality Assurance Methods
While the QA process works differently for each project, it helps to familiarise yourself with standard tools and methodologies to aid planning. Below are just some QA methods you can use in software development.
- Vulnerability Testing: This test aims to find security issues or vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit in your website or application. It is essential now that cybersecurity is more prevalent and users are concerned about their data privacy. By conducting this test, you can avoid security risks that compromise such data.
- Compatibility Testing: As its name suggests, this test checks whether your product will be compatible with the software or hardware you intend to run it on. Generally, compatibility testing involves inspecting key components like hardware, operating systems, Internet browsers, plugins, and the like.
- Usability Testing: Usability testing ensures that your product has a user-friendly and intuitive design and interface. Ultimately, you want to ensure that end users can utilise your app, site, or software with no issues and confusion.
- Unit Testing: Unit testing involves testing individual modules or components of your product. In most cases, you need to write this test before you code the module as part of your system or app.
- System Testing: With this test, you look at the overall system’s work with the corresponding modules to identify high-level issues that may have gone unnoticed. It includes looking at security, performance, interactivity, installability, usability, recovery, and other vital elements.
- Acceptance Testing: Acceptance testing is usually one of the last tests conducted in the QA process to determine whether your software system has all the specified requirements. End users or customers generally conduct this test to help you verify if your product is acceptable.
- Benchmarking: Benchmarking involves measuring and comparing your performance against the best-in-class companies in your industry. It allows you to identify strengths and uncover weaknesses to find ways to improve product quality.
- Cost-Benefit Analysis: This straightforward technique involves weighing the costs and benefits of your project to determine its feasibility. First, you want the benefits to outweigh the costs—otherwise; you spend time, effort, and resources for nothing.
- Cause and Effect Diagram: Also known as the Ishikawa diagram, the cause and effect diagram is a popular problem-solving tool used to trace the root cause of a problem. It helps you determine potential reasons for defects, errors, or failures in a process so that you can brainstorm relevant solutions.
- Design of Experiments: This technique allows you to evaluate the effect of changes on a particular design or process. With this, you can identify what factors may affect outputs, enabling you to develop more robust solutions.
Examples of Quality Assurance Best Practices
Now that you understand how the QA process works and know more about standard methods, here are examples of best practices to help design your workflow.
- Before starting a project, identify transparent organisational processes and standards to guide your team in the right direction.
- While testing is essential at every stage of development, remember that your main priority should be user experience (UX), since this will influence customer acceptance.
- Easily identify and correct flaws in all processes throughout development.
- Assign dedicated teams to test security and performance, since these two areas are highly distinct.
- Implement proper automation practices for testing to cut down on QA time without compromising quality.
- Conduct tests across multiple devices to ensure your system or app works for all end users.
- Enable cross-functional collaboration across teams, ensuring that your development and QA teams work hand-in-hand throughout the process.
No matter what product you intend to develop, QA will be an essential part of the software development life cycle to mitigate risks and avoid wasting time or money. You should have proper processes and standards in place to ensure that you deliver the highest-quality software to meet your end users’ expectations and needs.