The main purpose of any business is to prevent the release of a poor quality product. Even insignificant bugs and errors can result in huge financial losses for the project. For example, US companies lost $2.08 trillion due to poor software quality in 2020, according to the report published by the Consortium for Information & Software Quality (CISQ). That’s why it’s important to develop and apply effective QA best practices and methodologies that involve various types of testing, test cases, and other testing QA activities.
Software quality assurance and testing occupy a large part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) because it is important to check the quality of the product and make sure that it complies with all the requirements of the customer. In this article, we’ll consider 9 software quality assurance best practices of how to improve the QA process and increase the quality of the final product and software solutions. Here we go!
9 Software QA Best Practices
Like software development, quality assurance is a complex process that involves various engineers and specialists with different skills and expertise in QA practices and testing activities. However, it is not limited to testing only a ready software product. The QA process starts long before the development stage and doesn’t stop after the product is brought to the market. So, let’s have a look at the QA best practices applied by the team of testers to check the software quality, test new features, as well as make sure that the final product complies with the customer’s requirements and acceptance criteria.
1. Setting Testing Goals and Requirements
The QA team should check out testing requirements and customer expectations before proceeding to the software testing process. The customer’s task is to share his or her demands and acceptance criteria, which the testers should observe to solve all the issues and ensure the high quality of the software. The QA team needs to understand what to do, how to do it, who is the target audience, as well as how to ensure that the testing process is done properly. In addition, clear requirements will help test engineers and other team members assess the resources required for quality assurance and testing procedures.
2. Establishing a Well-Designed Workflow
Since the QA team performs testing activities in several steps, a clear workflow is a guarantee of success. The testing process workflow should include the following:
- a test plan, including software requirements and exit criteria, the scope of test tasks, necessary resources, testing environment, and deadline;
- test cases or checklists, describing test inputs, expected results, and testing conditions;
- various types of testing, including functional testing, regression testing, automated testing, manual testing, and other software QA practices;
- test reporting, including software QA practices, testing results, lists of bugs, and so on.
The distinctive workflow helps in reducing delays and rework, as well as allows QA engineers to avoid common issues in both development and testing. The clients, in turn, will have an opportunity to monitor the testing and QA process. Thanks to regular reporting, the QA team and the customer will be able to establish transparent cooperation and make the software testing process more effective.
3. Ensuring Robust Work Environment for a QA Team
The work environment has a direct effect on the staff’s productivity and attitude toward their duties. When every member of the QA team knows their job, it can significantly increase the efficiency of the QA testing process.
First of all, it is required to define QA roles. The quality assurance process includes different activities that are carried out by various specialists. To establish smoothly-run testing activities, all roles should be specified in the test plan. There can be the following jobs:
Every QA and development team member has a particular set of skills, instruments, and responsibilities that will help them ensure a hassle-free testing QA process and meet business and technical goals.
4. Ensuring Compliance with Industry Standards
Businesses must follow various regulations and standards set by different industries and jurisdictions. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is aimed at protecting people’s payment card information worldwide, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is responsible for the protection of health information of US residents, while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) controls the security of personal data in Europe.
Compliance testing helps companies make sure that their software solutions meet the requirements of particular countries, allowing them to avoid enormous fines. For instance, a company can pay $50 thousand for any violation of HIPAA rules (e.g., a security incident or data breach). You don’t want to lose your money and reputation due to poor quality software, do you?
5. Performing Both Manual and Automated Tests
Combining automated and manual testing approaches accelerates the testing process and improves software quality. Manual testing requires the QA team to run test cases manually to find bugs and errors, as well as report them to developers as early as possible. Automated testing requires testers to perform tests automatically using scripts and special automation testing tools. This approach allows engineers to check the functionality and features of a software solution. Test coverage increases when using both manual and automated testing. The testing process is considered successful when test coverage is 80% to 100%.
6. Conducting Risk-Based Testing
The aim of this approach is to identify the most serious risks during the testing process. The QA team assesses possible risks, prioritizes them, and plans the testing process. Risk-based testing helps engineers find and eliminate the most critical risks that can adversely affect the overall performance of the software. As a result, the customer receives a quality product, fully meeting all his or her requirements.
7. Implementing Regression Testing
Regression testing is usually carried out to check that recent code changes haven’t adversely affected the existing software functionalities. This approach requires the testing team to run a number of tests that have been applied earlier in the SDLC to make sure that the software solution works properly and in line with expectations. Regression testing allows testers to check how new features or updates will affect the stability of the product.
8. Carrying Out Shift Left Testing
Shift left testing is regarded as one of the most important quality assurance best practices. This approach is applied at earlier stages of the development process. Firstly, it is much cheaper to find and eliminate bugs at the beginning than at the final stages of the SDLC or at the production phase. Thus, researchers from IBM calculated that fixing a bug after the product release costs 4 to 5 times more than eliminating it during the QA process. Secondly, the quality of the software will be higher if the QA team identifies and removes errors during the development process.
9. Cooperating with a Development Team
To ensure a productive and successful quality assurance process, development teams and QA engineers should communicate with each other. Close collaboration will allow them to avoid misunderstandings and find effective solutions to issues identified during tests. It is also important to share ideas and feedback between both teams as it can speed up the QA process, cut development costs, and reduce time to market.
To Wrap Up
The best quality assurance practices should be focused on the improvement of the overall quality of the software, including finding and fixing bugs at the initial stages of the SDLC. During the QA process, testers should check the software product for compliance with industry practices, fundamental principles, acceptance criteria, and customer requirements. The QA team should not look at quality assurance as a single phase in product development.
The pack of the above-mentioned QA best practices should be followed starting from the discovery stage up to software release and beyond, including maintenance and support. Of course, you don’t need to use all these quality assurance best practices in one project. A professional and experienced QA team is capable of choosing the right approach and the most appropriate tools to match the requirements of a particular customer. This will lead to a seamless workflow and exceptional quality of the end product.