Article

What is QA Testing?

March 22, 2022

A definitive guide to QA testing with a look at basic concepts, best practices, and the role of manual and automated testing processes.

A definitive guide to QA testing with a look at basic concepts, best practices, and the role of manual and automated testing processes.

QA or Quality Assurance is one of the main components of software development and testing. Quality, in the context of software development, is the fitness or overall utility of the software for its intended use case.  The quality of functionality, features, and experience can all come under this umbrella. On the other hand, assurance can be defined as a promise or guarantee of a particular product that inspires confidence.

To sum it up, quality assurance or QA testing aims to ensure the highest possible quality of software so that end-users can utilize it with confidence and derive value.

The process of QA testing has come a long way over the years. In earlier times, the waterfall model of software development required for the process of QA testing to start rather late into the development cycle., Software was developed first and then passed on to the QA team. With modern development methodologies such as Agile, the process of development and QA testing go hand in hand.

Here, we take a close look at QA testing, the techniques it involves, and some relevant best practices.

QA Testing - The Finer Points

For organizations, the process of QA testing ensures the delivery of the best possible products and services consistently. QA is usually achieved with the help of several standardized processes and protocols, which are implemented and the results checked against pre-set quality benchmarks. Therefore, QA testing can be said to be an umbrella for all activities concerned with implementing these standards.

The entire notion of QA testing hinges on the experiential aspect of software use. For QA testers, a bug in the software goes above and beyond being a simple defect. If such a bug gets through testing and ends up in the finished product, it can negatively affect the experience of the end-user. It can lead to crashes, slow performance, or downtime. This has the potential to harm the reputation of the product and, by extension, the brand of the software provider. This is why QA testing should be assigned the utmost importance.

Developing a QA Testing Strategy

Creating a winning QA testing strategy involves an end-to-end approach in analyzing and overhauling every aspect of the development and testing process. Here are some broad categories that merit a closer look to achieve this.

Agile Methodologies

For best results, it is a good idea to break the software development cycle into short, productive bursts and integrate QA testing into each burst. By following Agile methodologies, testing essentially becomes a continuous part of the development and design process, instead of being a separate last-minute task. Test results from one sprint can then directly integrate into the next sprint of development, with an overarching focus on quality being constant.

This agile approach requires collaboration, with designers, developers, QA testers, and sometimes even a small group of end users working together and sharing feedback. The commencement of the next sprint always remains contingent on the results of the current sprint. You can speed up each sprint and create tests earlier by thoughtfully implementing intelligent test automation. To analyze and review the insight generated by each phase of QA testing, you will also need a settled framework.

Manual and Automated Testing

For a successful QA testing mythology, it is a good idea to intelligently combine manual and automated testing protocols. There are certain areas of the testing process that are particularly suited for each type of testing. Care must be taken to ensure that the appropriate testing methodology can be applied to the relevant area.

Manual testing is versatile and can be employed in a wide variety of scenarios. This is invaluable for ad hoc testing, usability testing, and exploratory testing. On the other hand, automation can be employed to great effect for regression testing, performance testing, load testing, and different kinds of white box testing. For a practical and effective application of automation in testing, you need to identify areas that call for repetitive testing with minimal chance of tests degrading over time.

While automation can certainly come up short for certain testing scenarios, judiciously using automated testing is one way to supplement your manual testing strategy and help you get to quality software faster.

Creating Quality Test Cases

Writing high-quality, cohesive test cases is one of the prime requirements in enforcing good QA testing practices. You might need to balance the involvement of developers creating test cases. On the one hand, developer bias might come into the way of achieving your quality standards. On the other hand, input from the developers might be invaluable while designing the appropriate test cases, especially if you adopt the Agile approach. A balanced approach might include involving the developers in the process of creating a test plan while delegating the actual job of creating test cases to dedicated QA personnel.

While your test cases should have a very specific focus, they should also have cohesion. The scope of your test case suite should conform with and change alongside the overall scale of your project. You need to design each test case to have clear expectations and create an outcome that can be measured and analyzed. Test cases can be broken down into specific steps and accompanied by clear prerequisites and expected results so that there is no room for misunderstanding.

QA Testing Best Practices

Here are some QA testing best practices that can help achieve the best results.

  • Use a comprehensive approach. There is a huge gamut of different testing procedures, so make sure to use the appropriate testing approach for the appropriate use case. Testing methodologies can vary greatly from load testing and stress testing all the way to user acceptance testing. A clear understanding of each approach is essential.
  • Use regression tests judicially to maintain high standards of quality. Regression testing is one of the most important aspects of QA testing. Especially for important features and components, testing once just is not enough. 
  • Tracking and reporting bugs systematically. Ideally, you should use the right bug tracking tool that is right for your use case and have a system of bug reporting which involves a minimum amount of data that should mandatorily accompany each bug report.
  • Once you establish a QA protocol and identify key QA metrics. These are essential to stay on top of your requirements. Create a system to collect and report on analytics to proactively predict future problems and design tests that target potential problem areas.
  •  Invest time and effort in unit testing and integration testing. While you can run unit tests in parallel to save time, only move on to integration tests once you have ascertained that all individual components work according to spec.
  • Use the right tool for UI testing. This is crucial to ensure that the user experience remains consistent and high-quality.

Key Takeaways

Creating the right framework and declaring the best practices from the very outset can be one of the best ways you can make QA testing count and deliver a quality product. Finally, your QA testing strategy should be adaptable and evolve according to the needs of the project. It should be unique and have a clear definition of your expected quality integrated into the approach.