Making mistakes is in human nature and normal. But sometimes even a small mistake can be costly. This holds true for software development too. Take for example the Y2K software bug which cost banks all over the world around $500 billion. When computer programs were being written during the 1960s through the 1980s, computer engineers use the last two digits of the year to store the date (1977 would be 77). But as the 2000s approached, the computers would interpret the year 2000 as 1900 and so on. Instead of calculating interest for one day, computers would calculate a rate of interest for minus 100 years. Other areas of technology like power plants and transportation were also threatened by this ‘millennium’ bug.
The lesson here is the small detail of storing dates that programmers overlooked proved a magnificent loss. Troubleshooting costs furthermore. But sometimes the damage is irreversible. A small software bug in a nuclear power plant system could take millions of lives. There are several such incidents where a small security loophole was overlooked and resulted in a massive loss. This is the reason why assuring the quality of software matters. Software quality refers to the ability of a software product to perform expectedly in a fault-free manner. The quality of the software is evaluated through Quality Assurance (QA).
What is Quality Assurance (QA)?
Quality assurance is the process of testing and experimenting to identify bugs and errors in the code of a software product. But quality assurance isn’t just this. QA is an umbrella term that covers all aspects of guaranteeing a high-quality software product. It begins from the design stage until the final deployment of the product. Each stage in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) should be carefully planned out and executed. Only then a high-quality, robust product can be made.
QA is not limited to the testing stage only. It also doesn’t mean they are the same. Testing is a vital part of QA. And so is Quality Control (QC). here is how these three are different from each other.
Testing is the process of checking the software code to detect any bugs and errors. It can mean verifying if the code is complete in regards to functionality and business requirements, assessing software usability, security, compatibility, installation, etc. There are numerous ways to test software. The method that you adopt depends upon available time and resources.
Quality control (QC) aims to identify a defect. It ensures that the approaches, strategies, and processes involved in software development are according to the requirements. In short, it fulfils the quality requests. Usually, the testing team is responsible for quality control.
While testing focuses on errors in code and design, QC focus on verifying the quality of the product as a whole.
Quality Assurance (QA) is a broad term that encompasses both testing and quality control. It focuses on the overall quality of the software development process. Unlike testing and QC, QA is involved in every step of the process to prevent defects in the final product. Another way to look at QA is that it provides assurance that quality requests will be achieved. All team members are responsible for QA. SO, QA reflects on the company’s credibility and efficiency.
Why quality assurance is crucial in software development
The product of a thorough quality assurance approach is a high-quality, high-performing, and fault-free software product. But QA goes beyond that. It is important to solidify the business-client relationship. It also affects a business’s reputation and credibility in the market. Here’s why QA is crucial in software development:
- Ensures quality and competitiveness of the product
The tech industry is unforgiving when it comes to product quality and performance. And rightfully so. We learned what might and has happened due to a faulty system; the consequences that the company faces could be severe. One small inconvenience while using your product can drive away your customers and stave potential customers.
So, if you want your software product to compete in the market, then your product should maintain high quality and a standard of performance. Your product and services are what keep you standing in the business. This is why it is important to pay keen attention to what you are deploying in the market. From a standpoint of market competitiveness, QA is therefore very important.
- Saves time and money
It can be expensive if errors and bugs go unidentified until the later stages of the development process. Fixing mistakes in an already developed product is complex and time-consuming. If defects can be identified in the earlier stages, they are minute and easily fixable. It is the responsibility of a software provider is to ensure that no mistakes and errors are carried forward to the final product.
- Ensures security
Security is a major concern in software products. Any vulnerabilities in the final product can compromise customers’ sensitive data as well as the credibility of your business. Even if the final product functions as expected and meets its requirements, it may still have weak security. In this matter, QA ensures that your product is tested for security and any possible low defence at all stages. The result is a secure and trustworthy product.
- Guarantees customer satisfaction
Software development puts customer needs and satisfaction at the forefront. It is necessary for the business that their products give users a satisfactory experience. The role of QA is exactly that. When your product is tested for quality at every stage, the end product will perform exactly as it is supposed to and will be reliable. Users will get a product that they are happy with. This solidifies the business-customer relationship.
- Strengthens brand reputation
A bad reputation spreads like wildfire. Especially in a marketplace as competitive as a software business. With a subpar product, your customers are as good as gone. Furthermore, any legal trouble and controversy caused by your faulty product can negatively impact the goodwill and credibility of your business.
A product created through strategic QA will act as your brand ambassador. People will trust your products and services, giving you a boost in the market.
Like every product, quality is important in software development too. It is the responsibility of a software company to ensure that its products are made according to the guidelines. The end-product should be well tested for any vulnerabilities and faults. Quality assurance helps identify errors and bugs in the early stages. The end-product of such an approach is efficient, functional, secure, and worthy of competition in the market. From a business standpoint, quality assurance is your brand identity. So, QA should be taken into consideration starting from the stages of the product framework right until it is delivered.