Most of us don't actually understand the meaning of quality assurance service, as well as its main purpose. As a matter of fact, QA is regularly confused with Quality Control or regular testing. So what is QA Testing and how does it work? Let's figure it out.
Actually, the product testing processes are as important as their development. Sometimes, it can become even more important. Obviously, the software product development stage is an essential part of any project. However, it is impossible to predict the result, if it will work correctly. For instance, during this stage developers can make some mistakes or use the wrong software. Therefore, in order to prevent such issues, Quality Assurance is being performed.
In fact, it is partly similar to planning and creation of the development strategy. As an industry, quality assurance consists of QA, QC, and Testing. Each of these phases is responsible for different aspects of work.
Clearly, the main purpose of quality assurance is to make sure that the product performs its functions and does it as supposed to. In other words, the main goal of QA is to ensure the correct working of the product, to provide the best possible software quality, and avoid unnecessary processes.
In the context of phases, QA is a process-oriented strategy, which is used to improve all the procedures related to the product such as the software development process, choosing the best fitting technologies, etc. It is based on the PDCA cycle, which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act.
In simple words, quality assurance guarantees high software quality and makes sure that it works as planned, without any unnecessary or even harmful software. QA is performed during all the stages and is a preventive measure, so it is possible to say that its main purpose is to avoid and prevent possible mistakes and errors, rather than fixing them.
Quality Control subordinates to the QA. It is an active stage of quality assurance. It is responsible for finding possible bugs or errors, and if the declared quality was reached. It works on the scale of the whole project overall.
Usually, it is in control of the practical side of general QA, meaning that quality control is performed in order to ensure that the product is working correctly, all the processes are fine and the features are functioning. In other cases, the QC team has to detect the occurred issues and sent the report to the testing team.
This part of QA is subject to QC. Therefore, after the QC was done and occurred issues were detected, the testing team has to find the origin of these bugs and fix them if it is possible.
Clearly, the testing team is working directly with both the front- and backend, trying to figure out the reason for the issue, what causes it, special conditions that can be a trigger, etc. Also, they can deal directly with the code.
Eventually, it is the final part of the quality assurance process. Yet, it can be looped, meaning that after the bug fixing was done, the quality assurance team can restart the whole process again in order to check if everything was fixed and works as was supposed.
All the above is just a short theoretical version of how software product quality assurance is done. However, in order to better understand the logic and specifics of the quality assurance processes, it is worth considering some practical cases.
For instance, there are various levels of testing. Each of them is used in certain conditions. Moreover, these tests are being done in a certain sequence, from smaller to bigger, or conversely from bigger to smaller. These approaches are also known as bottom-up or top-down respectively.
Unit testing or component testing is manual testing of the smallest components. Usually, unit testing is done from the very beginning, during the development process in order to fix possible issues as soon as possible. Obviously, the main tested object is the code, therefore the testing team at this level mostly consists of developers themselves. Unit tests help to figure out local bugs or errors, caused by mistakes on the code level.
The next testing level is to check the compatibility of various units with each other. This testing can also be performed manually, in order to check various component groups. Mostly, we are talking about various services, whether it is a web service or microservices, different controllers, etc. This stage is also performed mostly by the developers.
The next step is to test the whole system. At this level, QA specialists are being engaged. Clearly, the main point of such testing is to check not only if the structure is viable and works, but to figure out if it meets the requirements and declared features and specifics, to check some crucial aspects of work, such as performance, security, response rate, etc.
Last but not least, user acceptance tests are being done in order to check how will product behave in the real usage conditions and what the user experience will be. This testing is also known as Alpha and Beta testing.
This type of testing is usually done by the whole team and early access is a common method as well. Engaging various users helps to increase the efficiency and the volume of testing. Also, the engagement of outsiders helps to test the user experience and to pay attention to its alternative aspects.
Nevertheless, there is no one-size-fits-all testing strategy. Various software development teams can use different methods and approaches, which can also vary. Even the foregoing strategies can be used differently. In addition to the previously mentioned bottom-up or top-down approaches, they can be curved.
In other words, the testing process can repeat endlessly during the development cycles. It is also called regression testing, when the tests are done repeatedly after each update in order to check if the updates were made correctly and the bugs were fixed.
Moreover, the foregoing levels are not the final list. They are basic stages, that have to be done. However, during these stages, there are different testing methods and various testing activities that are used and are worth additional reminding. Among them are stress testings, security testing, regression testing, etc.
Several main types of testing are usually distinguished:
Quality assurance may seem an easy task, however as we can see that in reality, it is rather a complex testing process, that consists of various stages, testing techniques and perform several different functions at the same time. The most obvious of them is testing itself, which helps to polish the final product and ensure its security, stability, and correct working.
Nevertheless, other important aspects are often forgotten as well. For instance, quality assurance is usually confused with quality control and testing. As a matter of fact, quality assurance testing also aims to secure the quality of the final product, make sure that all stated functions and objectives are achieved, and the product is user-friendly and easy to use. The testing process never goes apart from the entire project's development cycle, and at Incora it goes beyond discussions. This is what QA look like in an expert development team environment.
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