Do you know why Mars Climate Orbiter Spacecraft, which supposedly the most ground-breaking project, had failed so miserably? Just because someone failed to use the right units.
Seriously? Yes, this is what happens when small errors - that could have been easily avoided by quality testing - are neglected. Do you know, often these basic errors cause unbearable financial or reputation losses no matter whether the project is well documented, delivered on time, and following business requirements.
Think of the time when Heathrow airport got into trouble when they opened a new Terminal 5.
So, if you want to avoid such expensive mistakes, think of hiring a Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer, whose main job is to prevent defects, ensuring the quality of your development process and its results. This is how big ventures secure a sound position in the market. They know how to achieve an edge over their competitors, thanks to their dedicated QA efforts.
Table of Contents
What is Quality Assurance (QA)?
As the name refers, Quality Assurance (QA) is a systematic process that determines whether a product or service follows the set of requirements. This is the essential element of quality management that focuses on providing confidence in how far the quality requirements have been fulfilled.
Software Quality Assurance aims to improve work processes and efficiency, enabling companies to win customer confidence and boost their credibility. Being preventive, a QA system identifies flaws, if any, in the approaches, methods, techniques, and processes that are designed to complete a project.
QA has two fundamentals:
- To ensure the highest quality of a product by controlling its progress.
- To test the hell out of every feature.
Being a part of your team, QA engineers should be involved in the product development process - right from the very beginning. They will identify risks, collect and adjust requirements by analyzing customers’ briefs; and yes, discuss with the developer if some solution will not be accepted.
Who is a QA Engineer?
A Quality Assurance Engineer is a person who is responsible for the quality of the final product. It is his/her job to maximize the quality of the product by testing it throughout the development process.
The role is different in every company. You might find successful QA Engineers or QA Analysts who don't know anything about the coding or development process, but their work is to test the final product for bugs and fixes. On the other hand, you will find other companies that hire a mid to senior-level developer who also knows every step of the development process or coding. A QA Engineer looks at the quality mainly from a business perspective but mixed with a technical approach.
Let’s discuss in more detail the contribution of a QA Engineer in a Software Development Company.
A QA Engineer’s Contribution to SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)
In a perfect world example, a QA Engineer contributes a crucial part in the entire Software Development Life Cycle. An SDLC testing cycle is a frequency within which QA Engineers conduct five test stages – that is, each sprint.
Check out also my video "Quality Assurance - test engineer - our way"
Here, you will see all the five phases a QA Engineer goes through with specific tasks. So, let’s begin:
Phase # 1: Gathering Details – Determining Approach to QA on the Project
It is the first and most crucial stage in the entire SDLC.
In the first initial meeting, a client describes everything they want. They provide an outline of the functionality of the desired platform, may it be a web or app. The client will provide the list of all the things they will need in the platform, from technology to features.
Once the requirement from the client has been obtained, the next tasks include:
- Analyzing and deciding whether the requirements can be integrated into a single system.
- Which solutions will work and which won’t.
- Planning the required software development testing stages and techniques.
Phase # 2: Validation - Verifying requirements of a planned project
Validation is a process of QA of the project earlier to its development starts. Finding out the project's capability if it will meet users’ expectations and if the idea is worth investing time and money into. During this process, the QA Engineers collaborate with the client and the project leader to research the market and users’ expectations.
The research aims to analyze if the product will make sense to the market and users. Gathering feedback from clients regarding design, features, and usability will help improve the user experience.
Validation is a critical stage, and without it, the product may never reach its audience. This stage also provides indications that the product will be profitable for the client. Otherwise, why bother in the first place?
Phase # 3: Test Planning – Writing Test Cases
In this stage, a QA Engineer will create test cases or test scenarios. These test cases are basically users’ stories that define how the application will behave. We have listed an example of two such test cases or test scenarios below:
If this phase is not clear, the testing process would be full of unexpected obstacles and contingencies. To ensure further stages follow a strict sequence of action, the QA’s job is to make up and document the action plan. Otherwise, the process itself might be clumsy.
We at Selleo use Behavior-Driven (BDD) approach at this stage. BDD solves both of these agile problems beautifully through process efficiency.
Phase # 4: Testing developed features manually
After the test plan is done, a QA engineer will move on to the next stage, creating a testing environment and executing test cases. It is good to perform various types of tests to ensure the maximum quality of the product. Some of these test examples are:
- Exploratory Test – It is a type of software testing in which test cases are not developed in advance, but testers check the system on the fly. Using this test case, a QA will write a list of things he needs to test in the software before execution. The focus of exploratory testing is more on testing as a "thinking" activity. Exploratory testing is all about discovery, investigation, and learning. In this test case, the tester has freedom of responsibility.
- System Integration Test – It is defined as a software testing method that took place in an integrated hardware and software environment to verify the behavior of the complete system. This type of software testing is conducted to evaluate the system's compliance with its specified requirement.
- Regression Tests – It is defined as a type of testing performed on a recent program or code change that has not adversely affected existing features. A Regression testing is a full or partial selection of already executed test cases which are re-executed to ensure the platform's existing functionalities. The motive of Regression testing to make sure that the old code is still working fine after the latest code changes are done.
Phase # 5: Test automation
Automated tests are different from manual tests where a human is sitting in front of the computer, carefully executing the test steps. The most significant of automation testing is that test cases are executed automatically which saves a lot of time.
After executing all the tests on the software, if all the functions were working fine, we marked the test as Passed. In this way, we make sure that we are not missing any details, and the product is fine. But if a test case fails, it means the coding is not properly done, and the QA will fail the product and send the report to the developer to check and do the needful.
The QA report explains in detail what went wrong or not. If issues were detected, each of them must be well documented to ensure fast bug fixes without any misunderstandings from the developers’ side. Now, let’s talk about the advantages you will get from having a QA Engineer in your team.
Four Key Benefits of having a QA Engineer in your Team
There are thousands of products and services available in the market, so how companies differentiate their product from their competitors to ensure superior quality? This is where the Quality Assurance department, or QA for short, comes into play.
There are countless benefits of having a QA Engineer in your team, but we will talk about the four essential benefits.
Save Time and Money
A highly-qualified and experienced QA Engineer contributes to building the application, which saves time and money for the company. Just take it this way, if inconsistencies and bugs are not reported at the earlier stage, it will cost the company more time and money to repeat the entire process.
If developing an extensive software system, miscommunication can easily happen between the developers. This miscommunication can lead to a buggy application. In the worst scenarios, the coding didn’t work at all. A QA Engineer will work throughout the process and keep the chain intact via a proper Test Plan. Finding ambiguities and mistakes in stated requirements contributes to the biggest value. The sooner a bug is found, the less damage it does to the whole project.
If a QA engineer supports the kick-off of the project, it can also speed up the whole process as the client knows what to provide from the very beginning.
Improving the Quality of the Product/Service
If a project team doesn’t have QA Engineers, that means somebody else (developers, analysts, or even project managers) needs to perform tests of the application and may not do it correctly. A QA engineer focuses on approving delivered content instead of delivering the content itself. Because of that, he has a slightly different approach than a developer.
Both developers and testers have the same goal, but the perspective is different. A developer tests the application hoping that no issues are found as that would mean additional work for him or other developers.
A QA engineer is not involved in fixing issues (excluding retesting, which is usually not so time-consuming). That allows him not to be biased by concerns or fear while searching for further issues.
Moreover, as QA engineers spend more time on testing than developers, they know more techniques of how to find bugs and strange behaviors of the application. A QA Engineer spends time researching the market and customers’ demand, so they know what the right motive of the application is. Developers do not improve their skills in testing as much as in developing - this is QA engineers’ role. Some testers are eager to find issues, which is not a bad approach.
A Proper Alignment of Duties within the Team
The presence of QA engineers in a project helps in dividing the right jobs to the right people. In theory, anybody can click through the application and test provided functionalities.
As a result, everybody happens to do it, so it consumes developers’, analysts’, and project managers’ time, which should be spent on other things. If there are people responsible for QA in the project, everybody can focus on their duties. Besides, the quality of the application gains appropriate attention from people dedicated to assuring it.
QA Engineers Help Secure Company Reputation
What if the application you just released has many bugs? Well, you will lose your clients, and it will be forever. Repeat the same scenario, but this time, it is the app for a client you are dealing with. Not only will your client reputation be drastically damaged because of a buggy app you designed, but your reputation will be damaged too.
A QA Engineer provides better insight into the product or service. The analysis of a QA engineer can help determine the risk a company faces while launching the application in the market. Quality Assurance team ensures that the product or service introduced by the company is not only of high quality but also as per the expectations of the clients.
Believe it or not, a QA saves millions of rupees of a company from damages and even legal actions that the client might take in case of their loss. Plus, consider the cost of repairing the product or service that has already been launched in the market. Nowadays, QA testing isn’t a formality; it is a business analysis tool.
A QA Engineer is the need for every company's hour, whether it be a product based or services based. Companies that deal with clients for developing software are more likely to have QA Analysts, QA Specialist, or QA Engineer for ensuring the overall quality of the product.
The development companies with having an impressive and competent QA program can attract more clients. The fact of having an experienced QA team reinforces its reputation as a high-quality supplier with its customers and strengthens employee commitment.
A good QA team helps establish a strong company reputation and ensures that it is successful by providing excellent products, which in turn provides more profit and customer loyalty.
if you want to work with an experienced QA engineer contact us.