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What is Software Quality Assurance?

by | Nov 7, 2017

Software quality assurance is the process of evaluating how well software meets the needs of the end customer. QA revolves around three pillars: reliability, efficiency, and flexibility. In order for software to be useful, it needs to work consistently, complete tasks quickly, and be useful in a variety of situations. Furthermore, good software also needs internal quality controls, making sure the underlying code is clean and practical.

Quality Throughout the Development Process

When we talk about quality assurance in software, most people immediately think of software testing. While testing is a critical part of QA, good developers know that quality assurance starts from the beginning of the project.

One of the most important facets of quality assurance is ensuring that the development team is on the same page from the outset. The developers should understand the needs of the end user. In turn, they’ll outline the architecture and functionality of the software and choose the proper programming languages, libraries, and tools for the job. From there, quality assurance is an ongoing concern for the development team. When creating a new project, the team will look for opportunities to reduce complexity in the code, avoid errors and bugs, and create a code base that can easily be updated in the future.

Another critical component of software quality assurance is addressing potential problems before they arise. Savvy developers know industry best practices for security, privacy, and response to cyber attacks. Many development teams institute a practice of “red teaming” the potential risks for a piece of software where some team members will actively look for flaws in the program that could be exploited.

Automated Testing: One Option for Quick Defect Detection

Once a software product is ready for initial review, quality assurance tests can take the form of automated testing. With automated testing, developers can execute a set of pre-scripted tests against the current version of the software in development. Automated testing tools can execute many tests quickly, report the outcomes of those tests, and even compare the results with earlier test runs. Automated testing doesn’t make sense for every project, and it doesn’t provide the same feedback as a user test. However, it can be a great tool for discovering errors quickly and early in the development process.

User Testing: The Final Gauntlet

User testing is the cornerstone of software quality assurance, and it’s the quickest way to learn if the new software is meeting the user’s needs. User testing on a new piece of software often involves bug fixes and rewrites.

Generally, the user testing process is gradual. Developers begin testing the product themselves. Then, they share the software with teammates. Next, it may get shared internally or to a small group of alpha users who help iron out the early (and biggest) problems. Finally, the project goes live and adoption ramps up. At large tech companies like Google and Facebook, they have a dedicated internal team of test users for new products. Other companies use external software QA testing companies that will provide preliminary user testing for a fee.

The Importance of Software Quality Assurance

Every piece of software requires changes, updates, and revisions over time. Around launch, these demands are especially high as developers work out last minute tweaks. However, ongoing software maintenance and planning for new versions are all part of the quality assurance challenge.

If you need help with your software quality assurance, Intertech has developers and experts in QA ready to help!

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