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Software Quality Assurance (SQA) : Methods, Importance and Examples

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Mario Olomu

July 27, 2022

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Clients want bug-free software as much as they want it delivered timely.

Bug-ridden software releases that need regular updates and upgrades are the worst turn-off for customers and demeaning for the developers.

As the name goes, Software Quality Assurance ensures that essential procedures are established and done and that the resulting software (output) is error-free.

 

Wondering what quality assurance means, its methods and best practices, examples and importance?

This article has in-depth knowledge of Software Quality Assurance and all you need to know about it.

 

Want to dive right in?

  • What Is Software Quality Assurance: Definition?

  • What Is Quality Control?

  • Quality Assurance Vs. Quality Control

  • Software Quality Assurance Process

  • Quality Assurance Methods

  • Examples of Quality Assurance Methods

  • Why Is Quality Assurance Important?

  • Software Quality Assurance Best Practices and Techniques

  • Conclusion

 

WHAT IS SOFTWARE QUALITY ASSURANCE: DEFINITION  

Just before we define Software Quality Assurance, we must understand what Quality and Assurance mean.

 

Quality :

An abridged meaning of quality is ‘ fit for the purpose.’ Simply put, this refers to meeting a client's demands and expectations regarding product specifications, performance, continuity, design and pricing.

 

Assurance :

On the other hand, assurance is a positive affirmation or verdict based on confidence in a product or service. This statement guarantees that a product’s functionality is at its peak and as expected.

Such statements are given in trust and taken based on past track records of a company.

 

Software Quality Assurance (SQA):

is a continuous process that guarantees that the software product conforms with the organization's established and standardized quality criteria.

This is a set of procedures and actions carried out to ensure that all team members properly implement the tasks designated to them in a development cycle.


This process is essential for ensuring that a company's software products and services meet the needs of its consumers. In addition, quality assurance aims to improve the software development process and make it more efficient and effective according to the quality standards that have been established for software products.

 

Companies that execute this process often run it simultaneously alongside the software development stage instead of the conventional method of running quality checks at the end of the development phase.

 

Quality assurance is more effective as it saves time and cost because malfunctions are detected and resolved just in time for the product launch.

The principal purpose of quality assurance is to catch a product's flaws and inadequacies before the more prominent public point them out.

 

When caught by the in-house team, there are fewer problems, and the organisations’ superiority remains high for the end-users.

 

Software quality assurance is also otherwise known as QA Testing.

However, you must note that software quality assurance and software testing are two different terms, despite many developers using these phrases synonymously.

 

Software testing is a process that falls under the operation of software quality assurance.

Software testing is a measure carried out with the central aim of identifying errors, flaws and defects in a product for fixing. Software testers discover the code errors, bugs and malfunctions but do not fix them.

 

QUALITY CONTROL  

Quality control (QC) is a technique or group of procedures designed to guarantee that a manufactured product or service adheres to a predetermined set of quality criteria or satisfies the client or customer's specifications.

Quality Control (QC) is a software engineering method to ensure product or service quality.

Unlike quality assurance, this procedure doesn't focus on the steps to build a product but rather on the "end products" themselves and the result.

 

Product quality control ensures that your products meet your customers' demands, and problems or issues, when discovered, must be addressed before the final delivery of the product to the consumer.

 

Software engineers and other professionals train to improve their quality level skills and get awarded certifications.

This evaluation is essential to providing “state of the art”  service to clients as a service-based company.

 

Please note that Quality Control is comparable to but distinct from quality assurance (QA).

In the next section of this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Quality Control and Quality Assurance.

 

QUALITY ASSURANCE VS QUALITY CONTROL  

Quality Assurance is often confused with Quality Control and is used interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing.

While Quality Assurance is primarily based on the product and service process for fault prevention and control, Quality Control, on the other hand, focuses on the product/service and fault diagnosis.

The sole difference between these two concepts is hinged on their different aims for testing.

 

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL  

 

 Quality assurance vs Quality control

 

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL

 Despite the differences between quality assurance and quality control, there is still a lot of common ground between the two concepts.

QA and QC, on the other hand, share many similarities.

 

In quality management, these two concepts share the same purpose. Both are concerned with removing flaws.

 

To achieve this goal, all stakeholders have a stake in quality assurance and quality control. A product or service must live up to customer expectations to be considered a successful product or service.

Product quality is essential to manufacturers since it gives customers long-term loyalty and control over expenses and waste.

This ultimately leads to a profitable business.

 

In the same way that QA and QC are both parts of quality management, they are both managed by the same quality management process. As a result, both directly impact every aspect of the business.

 

In the end, customer satisfaction is determined by both.

SOFTWARE QUALITY ASSURANCE PROCESS  

PDCA Cycle

 

The PDCA cycle,  also known as the Deming Cycle, is a quality assurance procedure cycle with a specific format. The following are the stages of this process:

  • Plan

  • Do

  • Check

  • Act

Regularly performing these procedures ensures that the organisation's processes are evaluated and improved.

Let's examine the QA Process stages described above in greater detail.

 

Plan:

The organization must specify process-related goals and determine the processes required to produce a high-quality product.

 

Do:

Process development and testing, as well as procedure modifications.

 

Check:

Process monitoring, process change, and evaluation of whether the processes achieve their intended goals.

 

Act:

A Quality Assurance tester must perform the necessary tasks to strengthen the procedures.

 

A company must use Quality Assurance to ensure the product is generated and appropriately deployed.

This contributes to the minimization of difficulties and errors in the final product.

 

QUALITY ASSURANCE METHODS   

Quality assurance employs one of the following methods:

 

Failure Testing:

Continuously testing a product to discover if it breaks or fails is known as failure testing. These failures may result from human errors incurred while developing the software, such as entering an incorrect input value or misinterpreting an output.

This could involve testing the product with heat, pressure, or vibration for physical objects that must tolerate stress. In addition, the program may be subjected to heavy usage or load situations for software product failure testing.

 

Statistical process control:

In the 1920s, Walter Shewhart created statistical process control (SPC), a methodology based on objective data and analysis, at Western Electric Company and Bell Telephone Laboratories. This methodology manages and controls the creation of items using statistical methods.

Statistical approaches are utilized to monitor and maintain product and service quality. Acceptance sampling is one method that can be used when a choice must be made to accept or reject a set of parts or items based on a sample's quality.

Statistical process control employs graphical representations known as control charts to decide if a process should be continued or modified to attain the required quality.

 

Total quality management (TQM):

Total Quality Management is a customer-focused practice that continuously strives to improve corporate processes. It ensures that all linked tasks (especially employee work) contribute to the common aims of enhancing product or service quality and the manufacturing or service delivery process.

However, an emphasis is placed on fact-based decision-making, with performance indicators used to track progress.

This SQA method employs quantitative techniques as a foundation for continual improvement. In addition, TQM uses facts, data, and analysis to help product planning and performance evaluations.


EXAMPLES OF QUALITY ASSURANCE METHODS  

The following is a list of some of the most common approaches and techniques utilized in quality assurance:

 

  • Specifications

  • Standard operating procedures

  • Cost-benefit analysis

  • Statistical sampling

  • Benchmarking

  • Business process re-engineering

  • Kaizen

  • Operations analysis

  • ISO accreditation

  • Ishikawa diagrams

  • Quality management methodologies, e.g. Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing

Most organizations use some of these tools. Some methods are more involved than others, but the workplace intranet can simplify them for a faster, more effective result.

 

WHY IS QUALITY ASSURANCE IMPORTANT?  

 


It's clear that software quality assurance is essential from the factors mentioned earlier in this article.

Now, let's consider the importance of quality assurance more distinctively.

 

  1. It enhances the overall safety and dependability of the product. Product safety may be more critical for tangible products such as protective headgear, electrical appliances, and medical equipment, but when cybersecurity is considered, safety becomes paramount.

    After all, many apps require an internet connection, and if your product exposes users to data leaks or other security vulnerabilities, the repercussions can be catastrophic.

  2. SQA is a good investment because of its low cost. A mistake is costly. If your organization distributes defective software, you'll be expected to provide fixes, patches, and significant upgrades.

    These aren't available for no cost. Customers and revenue could be in danger from poor-quality, unreliable software produced by a corporation.

  3. Profitability is a byproduct. When your software is of the highest quality, it gives your business an advantage over the competition and increases market share.

  4. It saves the cost of maintenance in the long run. SQA assures you of a good product at first-time release and saves you the burden of post-product care, and your company's attention can be diverted to the next plan.

  5. It enhances productivity for your organization. It's costly, time-consuming, and never-ending if you release a product with long-term problems.

  6. Quality assurance enhances consumer confidence. You might spend so much effort building a positive reputation just to have it vanish overnight over a flimsy software defect that would have been prevented sooner. In contrast, organizations with a good reputation for producing high-quality releases would always have a great in-flow of customers.

  7. It protects the system from malfunctions. As you know, malfunctions are expensive, time-consuming, and deny customers access to the product or service. If anything is more annoying than a programme with a few bugs and errors, it's an application that doesn't function properly.

 

SOFTWARE QUALITY ASSURANCE BEST PRACTICES AND TECHNIQUES  

 

Quality assurance involves multiple experts and isn't restricted to testing-ready software. Quality assurance begins before coding and continues after a product is released. Don't disregard QA if you want a quality product. Instead, follow these quality assurances and best practices to maximize this procedure.

1. Include a QA team throughout the discovery phase.

The majority of the time, the QA team enters the game just after some functionality has been produced and must be tested. Therefore, testers report any bugs that could have been avoided with appropriate planning.

 

However, it is advisable to include a team of diverse professionals in the discovery phase. Thus, everyone is afforded the opportunity to improve the development plan from their areas of competence.

For example, a project manager plans sprints and budgets, a developer provides more efficient technical solutions, a designer contributes new ideas about user experience and UI trends, and a quality assurance engineer provides a more complex view of the development process based on his experience testing various applications.

As a result, he can anticipate and prevent various app usage problems, integration and compatibility concerns, etc.

 

Changes to the design or technological execution during the planning phase are painless. However, modifications can be exceedingly expensive when issues are detected in the finished product.

 

2. Plan and Document Your Testing Process

Planning the testing procedure can seem pointless. A QA team may imagine they can intuitively test a product's functionality and interface. However, planning is a quality control best practice, especially for complicated projects.

 

Writing testing documentation should begin with quality control. This documentation is a testing checklist. The paper covers the tools needed to execute proper tests, required devices and settings, and acceptance criteria to determine if the finished product meets the customer's initial purpose.

 

QA engineer prepares for testing with proper planning. A test fails if a piece of testing equipment is missing at the start. Therefore, it is essential to wait until all tools necessary for testing are available.

New team members will benefit greatly from the testing documentation as well. They are able to get right into the quality assurance phase with ease.

 

3. Test-driven development

Test-driven development is a type of agile software development methodology that’s become one of the main principles of extreme programming. To achieve the highest quality product, extreme programming values frequent releases in short development cycles, extensive code review (often achieved through pair programming) and unit tests that cover all the code.

But, test-driven development is also used as a different approach to producing the highest quality code in the shortest amount of time.

Adding or changing functionality starts with writing a test that covers the desired change. After that, code is written to pass the initial examination. It is considered a good practice when a developer writes tests for his code. When he does that, he understands the requirements for new functionality and develops it to pass the test.

Therefore, in an actual sense, software testing precedes programming. If testing comes after development, developers will design tests to fit existing code, not vice versa.

 

4. Every feature requires code review

Each new feature's development should begin in a single branch per quality assurance techniques. This method permits the tracking of modifications and their local testing. In addition, the development team can use these code reviews to check that everything functions as expected without compromising the already present functionality. Finally, after the feature has been programmed, it must be reviewed by another team member.

The objective of code review is clear:

To identify any flaws that may have been overlooked during initial development to enhance the quality of the code as a whole.

A different perspective helps. It reveals coding flaws you missed while focusing on a significant issue.

This will also help your company build and follow a coding standard. The resulting code is well-structured and easy to understand.


5. Always implement interaction testing

In isolation, a feature may work perfectly, but when combined with the rest of the product, it may cause all kinds of problems. That's why it's so essential to conduct integration tests.

 Additionally, it is essential to undertake environmental tests. When a feature is moved from the testing environment to the production environment, minor or extensive issues may become apparent.

A feature cannot be deemed complete until it has been tested as part of the entire product.

Integration testing is especially beneficial when two independent teams are developing the frontend and backend. Occasionally, assembling these components results in an error. The cause of this issue could be minor and completely unforeseeable.

However, due to a lack of communication, differing data formats used by the frontend and backend development teams may result in a hidden issue.

 

6. Endeavor to automate when needed

Feature testing should be repeated. Changes or additions should be tested.

Automated testing can reduce repetitive manual work, especially for regression tests. You programme software to test the product's quality automatically. Automated tests have many benefits, including the flexibility to test multiple products simultaneously on different devices, testing outside business hours, and more.

Automated tests take longer than manual tests and require certain, mostly costly technologies. Automate only if it's worthwhile. If a test case is run more than twice, it can be automated. Test automation can be maximized with careful preparation.

 

7. Prioritize User Experience

QA must prioritize end-user experience over customer or designer choices. A skilled QA engineer ignores trends and concentrates on user experience.

In the discovery stage, build a buyer persona to understand consumer expectations. An ideal buyer persona describes their routines and preferences. This knowledge will help you design an audience-pleasing product.

QA professionals should test applications from the end user's perspective.



CONCLUSION  

Quality assurance is not a single product development step. Quality Assurance checks the product's usability.

It focuses on product/service quality during or after software implementation.

For successful products and services, organizations should follow processes and standards that are periodically upgraded.

Using all these quality assurances and best practices in one project is not mandatory. Instead, a solid and experienced QA team will fit the methodology and tools to the scenario.

 

author

Mario Olomu

Content Writer

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