Quality assurance (QA) is a critical part of any quality management system. At the broadest level, quality assurance concerns setting up and sustaining rules for developing and making dependable products.
According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), quality assurance is the "part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled."
QA increases customer satisfaction and a company's credibility, while improving work processes, procedures, and efficiency. It gives you visibility into the software development process and ensures you can replicate the quality process on future projects.
How is quality assurance applied in software testing?
Software testing is a simple concept. It’s the analysis of a software item to detect the differences between existing and required conditions. Think of it like gardening—“it’s the “weeding out” of bugs and errors. This process helps us evaluate features of any given software module.
Quality assurance focuses not on the actual software testing, but on the processes and procedures to ensure that the software delivered to the customer is free of defects. It ensures that testing is done at every stage in the product's development.
QA allows you to detect defects in software early before customers invest in your product. It enables you to meet customers' expectations and maintain your company's reputation for quality. It is vital to building your brand.
You’ll also save money upfront with quality assurance. You’ll avoid returning to the beginning to fix a problem identified late in the software development process. By finding and fixing issues before the software hits the market, it saves you money on product recalls, damage control, regulatory fines, and lawsuits.
Quality assurance gives employees more ownership and recognition of their work. It breaks down barriers between employees and managers, and it puts everyone in your organization on the same page in terms of quality expectations. This ensures consistent quality for your software in the marketplace.
What can project managers do to ensure proper QA in software testing?
To ensure proper quality assurance in software testing, project managers should consider quality requirements. Once requirements are established, project managers can move forward with test cases and organize them properly into test plans.
To develop robust quality requirements, you need to lay the groundwork by interviewing end users and stakeholders to discover their expectations. You can use this process to analyze documentation or design plans. This can be done through email, in person, on the phone, or via a video chat.
The information you gather should then be incorporated into a requirements document, which includes use cases incorporating the kind of tasks for which customers will use the product. The document should be clear and concise, detailed, with the proper scope, quantifiable and testable, and traceable.
The requirements document should be reviewed by end users and customers, if possible. It also needs to be reviewed periodically to ensure it continues to meet the customers' needs.
Test Plan and Test Cases
Once you have a requirements document in hand, it is time to create a test plan. This plan should be specific and detailed, and it should include a description of the testing environment and QA activities involved to meet your quality goal.
The test plan should include the following:
Functions to be tested
Exclusions and limitations
Testing approach and methodology
Test types and their dependencies
Resources and testing timetables
Contingency plans and release benchmarks
Test cases required to finalize a full system test
A test case examines one scenario of functionality for one requirement. In developing a list of test cases, you should focus on where defects are most likely to be located by consulting with experienced testers and test designers.
This phase should include manual testing to find software defects as early as possible to reduce the cost of fixing them. Inspections should be planned and should involve the right people, including the developer, independent reviewers, and facilitator.
Testing provides confidence that the software will work as intended. As the project manager, you need to decide when enough testing has been done—that is, when additional testing adds little to your confidence level.
During the testing phase, you should record all defects that are uncovered and resolve all of them before deciding that testing is over. Unfortunately, one-third of errors are introduced because of previous fixes, so you need to re-evaluate the software following any changes.
When done carefully, quality assurance will save you time and money and will lead to a more efficient project organization.
TestMonitor can help with your program
TestMonitor can help you with your quality assurance program. TestMonitor sports a simple and powerful interface built with the needs of project managers in mind. We put your team in the driver's seat with personal to-do lists of all planned test runs assigned to each team member. We give you a detailed overview of the results for every test run and offer both requirements and test case management. You can zoom into detail with results for each test case.
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