Infusing every IT project with a quality assurance (QA) process seems like common sense, right? Unfortunately, while often this step is intended, it does not get carried out in a systematic way that leads to the release of a high quality IT product or service.
At its simplest, quality assurance is a process that makes sure a product is being developed to meet specified requirements. We have written about IT project requirements on our blog and of their critical importance. Essentially, QA is ensuring those carefully defined requirements are fulfilled and thoroughly tested.
QA is of notable value to both the customer of a product or service under development and the management within a company.
It can be a challenge to secure budget for IT projects. Linking projects to the company’s business goals definitely helps. But that’s not enough. Before the company’s decision-makers will allocate budget, they will also want to be assured that they will get what they signed off on developing.
QA plays a big role in providing that assurances and demonstrates that there are processes in place to develop software in a way that will result in a quality product that meets specifications. QA is essentially peace of mind that the budget allocated to an IT project will be well managed and the goals for the project will be met.
Most important, of course, is the role of QA is attracting and maintaining customers for the company’s products and services. QA can help demonstrate that the product meets the requirements for the customer as defined in the requirements phase.
Few things will attract new customers and retain existing customers like a continuous release of new products or updates to existing products that are high quality and meet customers’ requirements and expectations.
QA and Product Development
While QA is part of the development and testing phase, it comes into play early in the process when project requirements are defined. These requirements will dictate how and what to test.
In most IT development, there are two forms of testing: developer testing and QA testing. In larger companies, an entire department may be devoted to QA. In smaller companies, QA could be a role within an IT department or outsourced to a consulting partner who is supporting or driving, in the case with smaller companies without little to no IT infrastructure, the development process.
QA testing will take on many forms pending the needs of the project, including:
- Acceptance testing
- Usability testing
- A/B testing
- Negative testing
- Smoke testing
- Regression testing
- White box testing
- Black box testing
- Grey box testing
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- And more…
We hope this quick overview about QA has been helpful. In the rush to get an IT project through the final stages of development, it’s can be tempting and easy to leave QA out or to short change it. But it’s essential that this does not happen.
QA can be a magic bullet that sets your products and services apart from your competitors by making sure they are bug-free and meet specifications and goals. Overtime, a systematic QA process will result in your company’s products and services gaining a reputation for high performance and doing what they set out to do.