Change is hard. But when you’re in the business of working with and producing software or any technology, you’ve probably long since realized that adapting to new methodologies and adjusting your strategies are par for the course. Technology is, of course, constantly evolving, with new tools and approaches being introduced every day and software, unfortunately, becoming routinely outdated.
Thus, there are plenty of things you have to keep an eye on. One area that requires constant attention and refinement is your quality assurance (QA) strategy. QA is an essential part of software delivery because it prepares your product for its ultimate release. While you may already have a strategy in place, it’s important to assess it regularly.
What are the steps for ensuring that your testing process is sound? While there’s no exact formula, the following suggestions can help you assess your QA strategy.
Perform an Audit of Your Current Strategy
Delve into every area of your QA process to evaluate what’s working and what could require an overhaul or some adjustment. That includes documentation, methodology, management, and more. Discuss these points with key personnel, asking what they believe is going smoothly and if there are any holes they notice.
You should also examine the process from start to finish so you fully understand how the big picture comes together and how things could be accomplished even better.
Make a Wishlist
Once you’ve performed an audit of your current strategy, determine the key needs for your organization. In an ideal world, which areas would you address to make your QA process perfect?
Of course, you may not be able to get to everything at once, but this will give you an idea and general outline of what to prioritize and what you need to do the most.
Keep Everyone Informed
From the software developers to the stakeholders to upper management — not to mention every member of the QA team, of course — there are many parties that need to be involved in your QA strategy. That’s because, at the end of the day, quality assurance falls under everyone’s purview.
Make sure everyone is informed about the overall plans, their individual roles and contributions, and any other related concerns. While the QA process will affect some team members more than others, it still matters to each individual, so you must keep them in the loop.
Involve the QA Team from the Beginning
The QA team shouldn’t swoop in at the end to catch all the bugs. Instead, it should be involved in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) from the early stages. Team members should work closely with the developers and begin performing assessments before errors and defects become too advanced because they will be more difficult to resolve later on.
The software developers will perform unit testing, but the QA team should be performing involved testing along the way, too. This will prevent you from bottlenecking operations and allow you to keep the pipeline flowing in terms of producing high-quality products and releasing them to market.
Take Stock of Your Manual and Automated Operations
Sometimes, organizations get too caught up in automation that they neglect manual testing. While automation does have an important place in the QA process and can be completed more quickly and cheaply than manual testing, it’s not always the answer.
For example, exploratory testing, in which QA specialists perform an analysis of the system and learn about it along the way, isn’t a scripted approach and can’t be done by a machine — the human tester must rely on intuition and critical thinking to “explore” the product.
Of course, automated tests, too, must first be scripted by QA professionals, so even automated activities aren’t strictly reliant on machines. As you refine your testing strategy, think carefully about which areas best lend themselves to automation and which should be performed by specialists.
Look for Areas to Outsource
You may already have a stellar QA team in place. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any areas that could lend themselves to outside expertise. Perhaps a project requires a particular skill set, one none of your in-house employees has, or you just need additional support for the volume of products in the pipeline.
Outsourcing QA has a number of benefits, including cost savings, efficiency, and more. It will also help your in-house team achieve stronger results and assist with project completion, improving productivity. If you want to keep a full-time staff, outsourcing can support your overall strategy and augment the work of your employees.
Keep Assessing and Reassessing
While your QA strategy may seem sound right now, the technology industry and market are constantly changing. Even as you define it to meet current standards, make sure you leave some wiggle room for evolving circumstances. Also, make it a point to constantly assess and reassess your QA process to ensure that it’s still running as smoothly as possible. You might even create a schedule for check-ins with employees and team members.
Just as everyone is responsible for ensuring the quality of your products, everyone must also do their part to be flexible and employ a critical eye when assessing QA processes. Remember that your organization may well change — whether it shrinks, grows, or changes direction — and you’ll need to account for different factors. Your QA strategy must complement new approaches.
It’s grueling work to create a QA strategy in the first place, one that will allow you to satisfy your project requirements and meet industry standards. In some ways, it can be even more difficult to reevaluate and refine your process once you already have one in place. You need to get buy-in from all stakeholders, consider each aspect of your strategy, define key players, and much more.
It’s also a necessary step. The world of technology is never static, and neither, hopefully, is your company. Establishing new procedures and keeping a critical eye on your operations is essential to ensuring that your overall software development process continues to run smoothly and that the products you create are of the highest possible quality.