In today’s rapidly evolving software market, some companies still believe that sacrificing quality for a faster time to market is a great bargain. But while lower development costs and faster deployment are a truly tempting result of such a tradeoff, in practice, the short-term gains have never been worth the long-term consequences of releasing low-quality software.
Where you were looking for benefits after the launch, you suddenly find hundreds of issues from usability and performance to security and maintainability of your solution or service. Instead of growing your product with additional functionality and pursuing new opportunities, you’re stuck dealing with unwieldy technical debt.
Sometimes the dire consequences of underestimating just how important quality assurance is for your business involve millions in damages, legal action, and tons of unwanted attention that leaves a permanent stain on your reputation. At least that’s what happened to British Airways.
Not only they delivered a system with poor reliability and weak security arrangements, but also the company decided on the massive layoffs of IT personnel in 2016, thus, leaving these critical issues completely unattended. Since then, the second-largest airline in the UK has repeatedly suffered serious system failures during busy holiday seasons. These outages led to a total of more than 1000 flights delayed or canceled, tens of thousands of passengers left stranded, and millions paid in compensation. And that was not the end of it. In July 2019, British Airways was also fined a record £183 million for its 2018 data breach that affected approximately 500,000 of the company’s customers.
Such high-profile software quality disasters have made a lot of companies reconsider their software development priorities. The compensation payments, the revenue loss, and the gargantuan fine of £183 million may have not killed a wealthy company such as British Airways.
Nevertheless, such losses would’ve definitely put most of the companies out there out of business if they addressed the quality of their software as carelessly as the airline did. Now that businesses realize they can’t afford to make such costly mistakes, they put quality assurance at the forefront of their software development strategies.
What is quality assurance?
Software Quality Assurance is a strategic process of monitoring and improving every software development process on your project to help you deliver a product of the quality your customers desire. These software quality management activities are accomplished through many and varied approaches, including ones following standards like ISO 9000 and models such as CMMI. For more on these tools, visit: https://www.etq.com/product-overview/.
To ensure the software solution or service you’re developing provides you with the desired outcome, quality assurance practices address its quality based on more than 80 software quality attributes. In order not to overwhelm you with a huge list, we conveniently reduced it to the five most crucial ones:
- Reliability measures how resilient your software is to potential stability-related failures and analyzes their impact on your company’s business performance.
- Usability measures the intuitiveness and responsiveness of your user interface—how easy and enjoyable it is for the user to accomplish desired tasks.
- Efficiency measures run-time performance and scalability of your software to ensure high execution speed and no performance metrics degradation during peak loads.
- Security measures your system’s resistance to potential security threats, such as data breaches, to eliminate any risks or vulnerabilities that could damage your business.
- Maintainability measures the general quality of your codebase and its ability to support changes.
How does it make things right?
Your dedicated QA team gets on board with the project from start to finish. They review and audit every activity from requirement analysis to deployment to verify that the product you’re building meets your business goals in full. For more information on other QA dedicated teams for hire, as well as their opportunities, please follow the link.
Your QA team works closely with your business analysts to achieve the system requirements that would reflect the needs of your business and customers as accurately as possible. They make sure the requirements you’ve put together are concise and easily understandable to your software development team regardless of the project’s scale and complexity.
Design and prototyping
Based on the system requirements for your software solution or service, QA engineers help you choose the architecture and design approaches that would suit your every goal best. Ensuring you go with the right architecture at the design phase will make it easier to develop and implement features avoiding any structural deficiencies. Fewer defects to deal with from the very start also means less rework, smoother testing phase, and undemanding deployment.
Working hand in hand with your devs, QA engineers apply their knowledge of numerous development practices and standards to help the project team set up efficient schedules and productive organizational processes. Proactive quality assurance helps increase code predictability. It minimizes errors, shortens the time spent on debugging code and reduces the risk of accumulating major technical debt.
Testing and QA
Software testing is the key aspect of improving the quality of your software. As an integral part of quality assurance, it serves as the final verification step before your solution or service gets deployed. Under the guidance of your QA engineers, your devs or a dedicated testing team performs different kinds of checks like performance and functional testing to make sure the product you’ve built covers your business goals and fulfills the needs of your customers. Any changes to features or components are made only after an appropriate review by your QA team.
Deployment and monitoring
After you’ve finished with configuration, product integration, and release, depending on your service-level agreement, the QA team that helped you build the deployed solution or service can also help you with its continuous monitoring, assessment, and further development. As your software grows with additional features, the team will continue to rapidly detect and resolve issues.
Why Good QA Matters to a Business
From slightly misplaced requirements to small bugs, even the most minor issues can pile up and get out of control. If you sacrifice the quality of your product to reach your short-term goals faster, you pretty much surrender its future to burdensome technical debt and dire, punishing risks that can cost you your money, your credibility, or even your entire business.
Even though there are plenty of ways a QA specialist can save your project from trouble on the final stages—rigorous testing and several rounds of rework will do their thing—fixing the mistakes you made is not the main idea behind software quality assurance. Good Quality Assurance is about setting your team on the path of organizational commitment to quality and saving you from making mistakes in the first place.
Adopting QA from the start will make sure your entire project team is committed to improving quality throughout development. It will help you gather intel, refine the requirements and minimize potential risks. Good QA will provide you with tools and guidance to boost the development speed and drastically reduce the costs of the final SDLC phases. But most importantly, it will help your business drive innovation and earn your customers’ adoration with a robust, future-proof product.