Do you usually worry about the software quality of your company? Do you want your customers to have the best experience with your products? We'll focus on the central role of quality assurance in software development. Below, we'll explain what it is, its importance, and the difference between quality assurance and quality control. We'll also review some frequently asked questions about this particular stack. Further, we'll provide resources if you want to know more about the subject. Let's go!
What is Quality in Software Development?
Nowadays, we know that it’s not easy for companies to engage in digital transformations. From retail shopping to payments, everything is digital today. If you want users to engage with your content, you must have an exceptional digital experience. Anyhow, it requires a particular focus on digital quality.
Digital Quality consists of early recognition of potential areas of improvement. Further, it applies to the implementation of suitable measures. Companies perform quality evaluations before launching products into the market. Quality Managers perform regular assessments, document the process, and correct non-conformities.
The Quality Management System (QMS) gets modifications based on occurred or expected changes. These include organization, measures, equipment, employees, methods, activities, and workload. Yet, changes in the QMS can depend on internal or external control audits. For instance, review performances or customer feedback. All evaluations need to have accessible documentation. This includes precise data about required measures, such as the team in charge and the period.
There are two primary ways that companies approach digital quality. One is Quality Assurance (QA), and the other is Quality Control (QC). Although they have similar intentions, QA and QC take different approaches. Both ensure customers receive high-quality products. We’ll explore the similarities and differences between QA and QC. Yet, we'll first explore some basic definitions for each.
Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance
Actually, this is not as a versus issue as it seems. No worry if the differences between Quality Control and Quality Assurance look confusing. Keep reading to know more!
What is Quality Assurance?
Software Quality Assurance (or QA) is a subset of Quality Management. It involves a series of activities and procedures during product development. Consequently, it helps ensure a high-quality release. QA includes team members from across the software development company. They discuss, plan and execute tests to validate product quality.
Quality Assurance is a quality process controlled and determined at the executive level. It focuses on process checklists, standards, project audits, methods, and procedures. Further, it is a preventive process that establishes correct practices and measures. As a result, it provides a favorable environment for the developing product.
Besides, QA is required to adhere to business and applicable technical standards. These encompass ISO 25010 or industry standards such as HIPAA for healthcare organizations. In this sense, QA policies ensure every released product meets standards. Some of the activities that QA helps define are the requirements, programming, and code reviews. Others include planning and execution and customer acceptance and feedback.
What is Quality Control?
Quality Control alludes to activities and techniques to control the quality of a product. These are in conformance with the Quality Assurance requirements. This set of exercises aims to identify any bugs that might be present. Through testing, it's possible to identify potential bugs for developers to fix. After fixing potential issues, products are again verified. This means checking that functions and features are working as required. Also, the QC process assures that the developed product meets the required quality. QC's tasks include inspection, deliverable peer reviews, and software testing.
In summary, the ultimate goal of both processes is to deliver the best product. This goal is one of the many tasks that Quality Assurance and Quality Control have in common. Following this, we want to go further into its similarities and differences.
Similarities Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Every company wants to release excellent products to keep loyal and satisfied customers. Reaching that desire is vital to achieving an optimized quality product. We can be sure that the two approaches have differences. Yet, these also share many of the same goals.
1. QA and QC Policies and Procedures
Both approaches follow standards set by organizations for securing high quality. Defect detection and remediation must be recorded and executed in an organized manner.
2. QA and QC High-Quality Practices
Companies can’t release a product quickly and hope for the best. QA helps to plan how the product will approach digital quality. Meanwhile, QC ensures the finished product meets the expectations. Both play significant roles in putting a good outcome in customers' hands. Also, they're vital to securing revenue for the company. In this context, customer feedback provides many opportunities for organizations. With this, it's possible to discover improvement areas, such as bug detection, test automation, and UX.
3. QA and QC Costs Tracking and Time Investment
Don’t rush QA and QC! Even if release schedules are tight, achieving high-quality test coverage is essential. Investing is something not to take for granted. Also, skimping digital quality could cost your company more in the long run, whether you invest in QC and QA teams or turn to a testing partner for help. Invest in the personnel and tools you need to ensure quality across the organization.
4. QA and QC Risk Mitigation
Defects can be minor inconveniences; or massive, business-threatening disruptions. The earlier you can catch a defect, the cheaper and easier it is to fix it. It’s imperative to focus and fast repair possible defects before reaching customers. QA and QC both attempt to reduce costs. The former aims to establish policies for early detection. Yet, the latter tries to catch and fix as many bugs as possible in a developed product.
Differences Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Getting confused over the two terms is normal. Yet, there’s still disagreement over which tasks fall under which category. When explaining the differences between QA and QC, there are some highlights. For instance, to acknowledge that QC is generally considered part of QA. This can help explain some of its overlaps.
1. QA and QC Processes
Quality Assurance is a preventive process. It establishes the methods which prevent bugs. Instead, Quality Control is a corrective process. Its focus is on identifying and fixing bugs. QA aims to develop a framework to cut bugs from the beginning. Within its role, it even influences the dev team. At the same time, QC reacts to the molded product. It does this by identifying and either fixing or triaging the remaining problems.
2. QA Preventing vs. QC Identifying
QA's work involves preventing bugs from ever occurring. To do so, they collaborate on practices to align teams and methods. Through QC, testers identify and focus on what defects remain. While the emphases are different, the end goal is the same.
3. When QA and QC Take Place
As we mentioned, QA occurs throughout the entire Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Quality Assurance is a continuous effort to enforce and ensure digital quality. Yet, Quality Control is a validation activity that validates the product requirements.
4. Who Does The QA and QC Work
Quality Assurance involves all the areas of the company in the project. It's an organization-wide effort. Meanwhile, a Quality Control inspector handles product testing and issue finding. QA helps guide the development of the product. As a consequence, it reaches a minor QC team. Then, the latter can perform their tests with the assigned amount of resources and time.
What is Quality Assurance in Software Testing?
As we have seen, Software Testing is one of the Quality Control tools. It tests the finished products and gets their quality check mark. Among the Quality Control process, there are many Software Testing techniques. Among these, there are functional, black box, and usability testing. Other types include exploratory, compatibility, and regression testing.
Testing focus is on solving problems and evaluating the software product's performance. Further, it tracks its security and compatibility. There are two ways to perform testing activities. One is with testing engineers, in parallel with the development process. The other encompasses the dedicated testing stage. This choice lies in the approach to the software development cycle.
One of the most popular SDLC is the Waterfall cycle, with six consecutive phases. These are planning, analysis, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. The method’s tests aim to find software errors and bugs. Yet, testing at this stage might be too expensive to fix. In this type of process, costs tend to increase throughout each step.
In response to Waterfall, Agile Testing rose. Its most significant benefit was allowing to test the product in the building stages. As a result, Agile breaks the process into smaller parts, iterations, and sprints. This allows testers to work in parallel with the rest of the team throughout the process. Also, it lets them fix problems and errors immediately. Agile's primary purpose is to provide a faster delivery with the best possible quality.
Another type of life cycle is DevOps Testing. A significant highlight of it is its continued testing through the process of coding. It puts particular emphasis on automatization and continuous integration. In consequence, it leads to the high-velocity delivery of applications and services. This allows building, deploy, test, and install the product ready for the clients to use. Of course, this process saves resources and time and makes all the teamwork achieve the same goal. These techniques are only the tip of the iceberg!
What are Quality Assurance Techniques?
Quality Culture is when everyone in the company achieves and maintains product quality. Software Quality Assurance establishes the organizational processes and standards. These must provide guidance and must improve over time.
Experts define organizational standards to assure quality products. These standards help companies to build solid foundations for Quality Assurance. But you can also refer to the IEEE Standard for Quality Assurance Processes. These standards align with the Software Development Life Cycle. Further, it has requirements for planning, controlling, and executing Software Quality Assurance.
How to Create a Business Quality Assurance Plan?
Last but not least, we'd like to list some fundamental tools and methods for setting up the Quality Assurance process for your business.
1. Cost-Benefit Analysis.The Cost-Benefit Analysis consists of systematically evaluating an investment against its expected benefits. Its function is determining whether the investment is viable on work, time, and budget.
2. Cause and Effect Diagrams. The Cause and Effect diagram is called the Fishbone or Ishikawa diagram. This technique uses brainstorming with mind mapping on a diagram. As a result, that helps to think of all the possible causes of a problem. Once you have identified the source, you will be able to find the right solution for it.
3. Control Charts. Control Charts are essential to know if you need fundamental changes to the process. Moreover, it helps to avoid specific problems. It's often used to analyze performance trends of operations over time.
4. Benchmarking. Benchmarking is the process of measuring performance to standard metrics and practices. Further, it includes comparing these critical business metrics within business areas. Also, it analyzes competitors, industry peers, or other companies worldwide. Thus, it helps to understand how companies must change to improve performance.
5. Experiments. Experimenting is key to processing which input has a significant impact. Also, it clears the path of knowing what steps will optimize the final product. This step is often done under controlled conditions and with a systematic approach. The main goal of these experiments is to understand how different factors relate to each other. Further, this aims to analyze how these affect the process and the output.
As you may guess, good Quality Assurance has many advantages. Optimized Software Quality is fundamental to ensuring a successful product. This final product will not only impact the final users' life. Also, high quality will help to gain trust and loyalty. We hope this article has resolved some doubts on the topics. Particularly doubts surrounding the role of Quality Assurance in Software Development. Moreover, we encourage you to start thinking about applying these techniques! Do you think they’re a good fit for your business?