What is a Software Quality assurance & why is it crucial for your business success
We all know that our favorite applications and sites are comfortable to use. Getting what we need in short time - that's why we love them. Usually, the work of technologies is quick and efficient, but all this is achieved thanks to the quality assurance process. QA is present at every development stage, from static to final testing. If you had to use the software that didn’t go through all the Software Quality Assurance stages, you'd quit it in a couple of minutes at best, because of bugs. At worst, you would suffer real material losses.
Without the SQA process, creating a high-quality IT product is impossible. But before we figure out why, let's clarify what the concept of Quality Assurance means.
What is Software Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance ensures the reliability of an IT product at every the development stage. The SQA process is responsible for setting requirements and maintaining them during the software development process. It also covers risks identification when introducing new functions and working with finished product.
Having undergone the quality assurance process, software is to maximize the efficiency of the working processes at the company where it's implemented.
The chart above shows comparative statistics on the types of quality assurance used in enterprises around the world. According to Statista, only 2.12% of all respondents don't use QA at all. As you can see in 2020, about 46% of respondents use specialized software or applications for SQA.
Among many QA types, including those mentioned in the chart, there are:
- Integration testing - verification of program modules united into one group. The main task is to make sure that the relationships between the software components meet the functional requirements.
- Static testing - verification of project documentation and requirements; risk assessment.
- System testing - verification of functional and non-functional system requirements.
- Acceptance testing - can be performed by the company’s expert, third-party services (beta test) or the end user (alpha test).
Now you know about the concept of software quality assurance and even something about its types. Finally, it's time to figure out why this process is crucial for any business that has implemented software.
Software development quality assurance: why it is important
All the SQA elements are working to increase the productivity and stress the resistance of software products. And this, in turn, is crucial for business if you want to get a competitive advantage.
Among other important aspects of the SQA process, there are also reducing production costs and ensuring proper project planning after the first few stages of software development.
1. Saving money and time
SQA testing takes time, it is true. It must be carried out at each stage of the software’s life cycle, and this takes lots of time and financial resources. However, the SQA process significantly saves money later, as you get the opportunity to solve software problems at the very beginning. The earlier an error was found, the lower will be cost to fix it. Debugging at the stage of terms of reference compilation would cost you, for example, 1 $. But to fix the same malfunction at the stage of software implementation in business process will cost several times more, reaching hundreds, or even thousands $. Not to mention the businesses reputational loss. Therefore, SQA testing is carried out at each stage of the software development.
2. Significantly affects the software final quality
Even minor changes in the software code already have a huge impact on its quality. Therefore, SQA testing is so important in such cases - even the smallest feature can lead to a big malfunction.
Imagine that your software product is a cruise ship. And its navigation is a code. Of course, it seems that small changes in the route will not affect anything, but if no one cross-checks them, passengers can no longer be sure of their own safety. Would you go aboard a liner that doesn't double-check where it goes?
In the software operation, everything is the same: if you want your software to properly work during its deployment, you need to double-check every little change.
3. Reduces the number of errors in the functions
Often, you can get a finished project that doesn't work as you expected. Your unique ideas in software are your competitive advantage, and it's natural to count on their implementation. Therefore, SQA testing is important - with its help you can find out if everything necessary works as expected.
An SQA expert will analyze each function and its impact on the software operation. As a result it may lead to problems with security protocols, or, on a contrary, be the best solution for software.
What happens when software quality assurance is inadequate
It’s better to double-check the software quality than have problems, and we've explained to you why. However, without practical examples, it is difficult to imagine what would've happened if the SQA process was incorrect or of poor quality.
We'll show you how the lack of proper quality assurance led to negative consequences in companies’ work and their reputation losses.
ATM malfunctions of Chinese Huaxia Bank
For 2 years, Huaxia Bank hadn’t noticed that their own employee was withdrawing money from ATMs, but was not debiting it from his own account. It happened due to a bug that caused the system’s crash somewhere around midnight. The ATM was issuing cash but wouldn't withdraw the amount from a user's account. In a properly configured software, this transaction would have simply been canceled, but the malefactor took advantage of the software faults and used the scripts that block signals about an incorrect operation.
By the time the fraud was revealed in 2018, he had already managed to cash out about 1 million $.
Plane crash due to software flaws
In 2019, the 737 Max aircraft production was suspended because of it's two crashes with a fatal outcome. These accidents occurred because of the software malfunction. The software was supposed to help the aircraft avoid stalls. Since 2020, the manufacturer has been working on fixing this, but new problems appeared the software during the process. However, these had already led to the fact that the manufacturing company lost billions of dollars, went through the courts and was forced to replace the CEO.
The importance of software quality assurance is clear, but how the SQA process happens (or how it should happen) during the software development is still an unsolved mystery for most entrepreneurs. We will try to tell you more about this and show how important it is to find a reliable IT partner for software development.
Software quality assurance process
The SQA process starts at the very beginning of software development and continues throughout its life cycle. Quality assurance never stops and an SQA expert can get the task to check some element of the software at any time. Therefore, when considering the SQA process, we focus not on its stages but on how this process should be properly organized by reliable IT companies.
The first thing your development company should do when starting the SQA process is making an SQA plan. A proper planning of the process at each stage helps to correctly determine the quality assurance goals and desired results, which helps to improve the software productivity.
A proper SQA process planning at any stage of the product life cycle includes the following elements:
- Definition of the SQA testing objectives and quality criteria
- Compilation and analysis of metrics showing the "bottlenecks" in the software development process. It also indicates the project development phase success or failure.
- Collection of test data for the project, the selection of optimal tools for quality assurance
- Selection of various test design techniques appropriate for a particular level and quality assurance type
- Description of the test scenarios in specific conditions for SQA testing in different situations and environments
- Deadline designation for a particular type of SQA testing
- Identification of criteria the fulfillment of which indicates the possibility of the software testing completion
During this process, all qualitative changes that will affect the software operation in the future, depend entirely on the SQA engineer.
Testers are those who guarantee the software maintenance and quality control. They act as the client's "lawyers", who will always uphold the software implementation and, from the professional side, will be able to give advice on bringing the software to perfection.
— Sergey Kupelsky, QA expert at MassMedia Group
Thanks to quality assurance, the development company can check the software quality, make sure it works smoothly and take into account all the comments for malfunction correction in the future.
We recommend you not to cut costs on the SQA process if your goal is to get the high-quality software. We also advise finding a reliable IT partner who will support the software at all stages of its life cycle. Find someone who'll continue to work to ensure the quality of the software, if necessary, even after its implementation. Then and only then will your product be successful.