It doesn’t matter what stage of business you’re in – there’s always plenty to sort out, so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s essential. While it may be one of the farthest things from your mind, quality assurance (QA) should actually be near the top of your list — right beside software development itself.
Why is establishing a QA process at your organization so important? And how, exactly, do you make it happen? Here’s why you need to prioritize software testing — and what you need to do to do it the right way.
Why a QA Process Is Important
Simply put, if you release a buggy, defective product, your business will fail. This is especially true when you’re a startup, although even long-established businesses face fallout when their products are not up to par. QA testing helps to prevent you from making catastrophic mistakes with releases — although even the most rigorous QA process can’t completely guarantee the absence of bugs.
But testing does much more than simply enabling you to catch most bugs. Depending on the types of tests you deploy, it allows you to assess usability, functionality, performance, user load, and much more. These are all crucial aspects of your product and ones that could mean the difference between success or failure in your market.
Establishing a QA Process
Choosing a Methodology
If you have an established methodology like Agile at your organization, your testing strategy will need to conform to the same standards. The methodology, in fact, will largely dictate your activities in all software-related realms — including testing.
Work with both the QA and software development teams to review your methodology and ensure that your testing activities meet the standards and requirements laid out within those processes.
Analysis of Requirements
Meeting the requirements is the primary goal of software development. Any QA process must have a built-in analysis of whether or not you have successfully met the product requirements. These will, of course, vary from project to project, but your validation activities to assess whether particular standards have been met can look largely the same from one project to the next.
For each product, you’ll need to plan out your testing from development to release. While every project is unique and will require different test cases and scenarios, you can still have an overarching plan: a template for a checklist, a list of responsibilities, a grid with requirements, and so on.
You should also establish a pipeline of assignments and projects. You might even use a project-management tool to keep track of individual test cases, assignment owners, and due dates.
Consider your priorities when it comes to testing. This will depend on the nature of your organization and the types of products you plan to release. Your priorities will dictate the tests you perform because different types of testing assess different elements of your product. Once you know which tests appear at the top of your list, you’ll have a more definitive plan for the QA process.
Everyone on the team is ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of your products. Still, specific tasks should be left in the hands of those who specialize in each area. Also, keep in mind that while software developers aren’t the same as QA specialists — each role has different skill sets and responsibilities — they should still contribute to the QA process. Moreover, the QA and development teams should be working closely together and know what their specific tasks are.
Automation and Manual Testing
Too often, organizations rely heavily on automation in the QA process. While automated testing can certainly save you time and money, you should use a blend of automated and manual testing to ensure full coverage. Also, bear in mind that automated tests still need to be scripted by a human and should be used for repetitive assessment.
Sometimes, testing requires complexity or creativity, which means it can’t be automated so it demands the intervention of humans.
As part of your QA process, you’ll need to establish a method of documenting and reporting issues found, fixes needed, and their status. This is something both the QA team and software developers, along with other key players like the project manager, should be able to access and edit. Make sure everyone knows where they should check, how often should they do it, and any other pertinent information about the reporting system.
After the QA team finds defects, the software developers will repair the product, and the QA specialists will retest it to ensure that the error has been addressed. They will also perform regression testing to ensure that the fix hasn’t affected other elements of the product, such as its functionality, usability, and other elements.
Build regression testing into your plan such that it doesn’t delay you for longer than necessary. Assume that this will play a role in every testing scenario because no product is perfect.
Whether you’re a startup or a more established business, growth may well be in your future. As you’re devising your QA process, keep scalability in mind. How will you account for overflow if you’ve maxed out the capacity of your full-time testing team?
You might, for instance, think about whether outsourcing could be a possibility, at least while you’re still figuring out a longer-term process. You could also look into team expansion. Either way, make sure you start considering how you’ll expand before it becomes urgent.
Software development is only half the battle. Any emerging or seasoned organization must also have a solid QA testing strategy to ensure that the products they put out are high-quality and will meet the expectations of their customers. Without it, your business could face damage to its reputation — or, worse, fail to survive the pushback that comes with releasing a faulty product.
Don’t let that happen! Before you release a single product, make certain it has gone through a rigorous quality assurance process.