The importance of testing has never been underscored more than now. By testing, of course, we mean the type that occurs as part of the quality assurance (QA) process. Vital industries like healthcare, security, and manufacturing depend on reliable and secure software to provide their much-needed services, and in order for development teams to deliver, they must conduct rigorous QA testing.
If you’re new to the inner workings of the software development process, you’re probably wondering what does QA testing entail exactly and the right and wrong ways to go about it. That’s why we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for conducting it in your organization.
1. Do Communicate
The QA process should never be a one-person operation. The QA team itself likely involves several players, and they must work closely with other instrumental personnel, most notably the software developers and project manager. This involves extensive communication.
First, everyone must understand the strategies and goals for the software development cycle, as well as the roles everyone is playing. It’s important to remember that even though there are designated QA specialists, quality is ultimately everyone’s concern and responsibility. Each team member should be informed about what they’re expected to contribute and stay in close contact with the other members of the team at all times.
Additionally, QA specialists must take great care to make the reporting and documenting process collaborative, ensuring that the software developers know what they need to resolve and why. The developers, in turn, should keep the QA specialists apprised of their progress and any issues they encounter along the way.
2. Do Prioritize
While you should test every aspect of your product to assess its functionality, performance, usability, and other factors, bear in mind that some tests overlap in terms of what they assess. You don’t need to spend a considerable amount of time repeat-testing simple features. In fact, if you do so, you risk overlooking core features.
It’s important to prioritize when it comes to your QA strategy, ensuring you’re giving the most attention to critical features that influence the overall quality of your product.
3. Do Start the QA Process Early On
In many cases, the QA process predominantly takes place at the end of the software development cycle. But as we’ve discussed, collaboration is the key to successful delivery — and part of this involves creating a sound QA strategy to implement through the project.
The QA team and development team must work together to hone a strategy that involves quality assessment early on and throughout the process. This will reduce lags in the development and speed up the timeline of the ultimate release of your product since you’ll be able to address defects sooner rather than later.
4. Do Keep Testing
QA testing can never be a one-off. It’s virtually impossible to catch every single defect as possible before the initial release of your product, and you’ll need to constantly hone and improve it with each new release. As new iterations demand additional requirements and features, more and more testing will be essential.
Of course, you’ll also want to eliminate as many bugs as possible with each new release. Testing allows you to continually catch defects and have the developers address them to make your product even better.
1. Don’t Automate Just for the Sake of Automating
Automation should speed up and improve your QA process, not make it even more complicated. Think carefully about which tests can be automated. As a general rule of thumb, repetitive tests that can be scripted by a human QA specialist once but need to run with a fair amount of frequency will be the ones you should automate.
Think about what you’re investing in automation and what it will deliver. In other words, automation should bring some type of value to your product. Moreover, you must ensure that the tests you script for automation are sound.
2. Don’t Forget About Manual Testing
On a similar note, your QA strategy should incorporate manual testing. Of course, even automated tests require you to write and manually perform the assessment initially. But even for other scenarios, you might want to opt for manual testing over its automated alternative.
For example, if you’re testing a particularly complex feature, manual testing will probably be necessary. Moreover, if you’re writing a test you won’t be using very frequently, it doesn’t really make sense to automate it.
3. Don’t Just Have Software Developers Do Your QA Testing
Some businesses believe software developers can take on QA testing, so they go with it as it means they won’t have to hire QA analysts. That’s a big mistake.
The software developers will do some testing, such as unit testing while building the product, but they shouldn’t be responsible for the entire QA process. Each type of profession demands a specific, specialized skill set, and putting quality assurance in the hands of developers who aren’t specialists in this area could put your product at risk. As an added bonus, using QA testers will get you an extra set of fresh eyes on your product.
4. Don’t Stop Documenting and Reporting
No matter how small or insignificant a defect seems, you should always document and report it. This will prevent it from falling through the cracks and help you ensure that you don’t overlook it in another round of testing.
It’s a good idea to have a centralized location for documenting, which will streamline the entire QA process. Keeping track of issues in multiple places and using many different tools could make things confusing for both the QA specialists and the developers. This way, the developers know where to look and the analysts can confirm that they’ve addressed your request.
These dos and don’ts will help you define your QA strategy, but remember to continually assess and reassess your procedures and develop best practices unique to your staff and organization. It’s a good idea to refresh your process as you learn more and get input from your staff, too.