Understanding Software Quality Assurance (SQA)
What is Quality Assurance (QA) in Software Development?
When it comes to software development, Quality Assurance (QA) is the process that ensures the final product meets quality requirements.
Among all the software development models, my personal favorite is the Agile methodology which integrates QA throughout the entire process. In this method, software QA runs parallel to the development process, rather than being a separate stage.
How should QA processes be implemented?
As a developer, I suggest following Agile QA practices for testing code rather than waiting for the final product
Testing activities best take place when they are run parallel to the overall development process i.e. test your code every time it is committed to the repository; do not wait for the entire software to come together! This is the main difference of Agile with the other methodologies like Waterfall. This process of implementing quality assurance is mostly ideal for software development and is known as executing the QA process in Agile ways.
Software QA Process: Stages
To implement any process, it is important to understand the stages involved first. This is how you effectively manage any project! And the software QA process is no alternative to that.
In this section, I have listed the chronological order of steps that best outline the software QA process for me –
- Software Requirement Analysis
Preventing bugs during the requirements design stage is cheaper than fixing them later during testing.
In this stage, QA team defines and analyzes the software requirements to ensure they are all clear and precise.
- Planning of Testing
The previous stage provides vital information for test planning like strategy, budget, and timeline.Now the test plan defines the “types” and “levels” of testing needed. QA team allocates resources and assigns responsibilities to the team accordingly.
During QA process, the team creates checklists, called test cases, that cover the software requirements. A test case includes steps, conditions, and data to validate the functionality of the software.
While working on QA, I mainly design the test cases in two categories –
i) Exploratory testing, which helps the team design suitable test cases to specific requirements
ii) Automation testing, which creates a staging environment to closely match the development environment
Test Environment Setup
After designing the test cases, we start setting up the test environment. We create an environment resembling the production environment as closely as possible. This is to ensure that the software is tested under similar conditions.
The test environment setup includes –
i) Setup of Test Server
ii) Network setup
iii) Testing PC setup
iv) Bug Reporting
v) Creating Test Data for the Test Environment
Executing Tests and Reporting Bugs
The developers actually start with unit tests, followed by the execution of API and UI tests conducted by QA team. Much similar to the design stage of the QA process –
i) Manual tests are carried out based on predetermined test cases
ii) Automated test frameworks (Selenium, Cypress, Appium, etc.) are carried out to run test scripts and create summary reports
Any bugs found during these two tests are logged in a defect-tracking system. This is a very important step as bug fixing in software development is almost synonymous with software QA itself!
The bugs found in the previous stage are reported and fixed. After which, QA team tests the functionality of software again. This is to ensure that we do not miss any anomalies!
I, additionally, run regression tests to further verify whether or not the fixes have changed the current state of functionalities.
Improving Release Tests
After developers issue a release notification, my team and I identify the affected functionalities and modify test suites, or simply tests, accordingly.
We also perform smoke tests to ensure stability before running modified test suites and generating a report.
Software QA Process: Setup
My trick for ensuring a seamless QA process is – implementing the whole process in the Agile environment. Using only a few simple methods, you can align the setups of the quality assurance process of your software with Agile development principles! No worries, I have got those simple methods covered as well –
- Result Oriented Process
Agile development takes place in small sprints and faster pace.
So, we divide the QA process into small and objective-oriented tasks to fit into this practice.
- Transparency-first Approach
In Agile development, transparency is detrimental to success.
We implement transparency by ensuring a clear understanding of software requirements and what to test in each sprint.
The agile method reviews everything every time a sprint is completed, rather than waiting for the entire project to come together!
We also do not delay testing until the end of the development, and instead, perform testing after every little task or sprint to catch issues early.
We implement DevOps methodology using Agile ways to streamline the software development process. But its stellar factor is really how it eliminates any conflict between us and the development team.
Software QA Process: Specifics
Now that you are ready to take on the challenge of Software QA all by yourself, let’s have a quick walkthrough on the specifications related to Software QA!
Software QA Process: Tools
Miro: Create a mindmap for the project to understand how the software should work and test it accordingly
Google Docs: Store project documentation such as test plans, checklists, and test data i.e. except test cases
TestRail: Store test cases in a simple and easy-to-use tool
Zeplin: Receive design docs from designers
Jira: Bug-tracking tool with different tickets for the project
Insomnia Postman API Network: Test APIs
Selenium: Tools for automation testing
Software QA Process: Methodologies
Software Quality Defect Management Method:
This method involves tracking and categorizing bugs based on their severity, with the help of metrics and control charts.
Software Quality Attribute Method:
This method analyzes a software’s performance based on five parameters – reliability, usability, efficiency, maintainability, and portability.
Software QA Process: Techniques
Reviewing: stakeholders meet to review the project and measure the quality of the software
Auditing: inspection of software and data to check if it follows standard processes
Functional Testing: testing the functionality of software and how it works
Code Inspection: formal review to find defects in the code
Stress Testing: checking how software works under extreme conditions
Design Inspection: checklist-based inspection of different areas of software
Software QA Process: Components
Pre-Project: Project strategy, timelines, and budget
Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC): Code reviewing, testing, and maintenance
Infrastructural: Training, configuration, and preventive measures
Management: Metrics, cost control, and managerial involvement
Standardization and Certification: Quality system alignment
✔️ Effective flow of QA stages: Requirement analysis, Test planning, Test design, Test execution, Test environment setup, Bug reporting, Retesting, and Improving release tests.
✔️ Agile development is a more efficient approach to implementing quality assurance for software.
✔️ Various methodologies and techniques can be implemented in software development QA.
Just like a purposeful umbrella, SQA covers your entire project from start to finish, while protecting your software from getting caught in the rain. So take the first step towards creating high-quality software and start implementing software QA in your projects from today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the steps in the QA process?
The steps in the QA process typically include – Analyzing requirements, Planning tests, Designing test cases, Creating test environment, Executing tests, Tracking and reporting issues, and Improving results.
What tools are used in quality assurance?
Some common tools used in software QA include Jira, Zeplin, Selenium, Cypress, and Appium.
How does the QA team measure software quality?
By executing test cases and validating the software against predetermined requirements.
What are quality assurance techniques?
Techniques used in software QA include manual testing, exploratory testing, regression testing, and acceptance testing.