Software quality is one of the major pillars that determine the success of any software application among its end-users. Today, when there are over 7 mln mobile apps alone and many more web, desktop, and other types of digital solutions, it’s becoming harder for software providers to retain user focus for a long time. Meanwhile, any security issues or poor product quality can become an instant turn-off for the app audience. Therefore, those businesses that develop software on a professional level always include software testing and QA services in their software development plan.
While having a QA team is a must for building a secure and effective solution, quality assurance extends far beyond just software testing procedures. In this article, we’ll have a look at what software quality management is and what practices are used to ensure high standards of quality and security in software solutions.
What is Software Quality Management?
Software quality management is a set of procedures and processes fulfilled throughout the software development which ensures the high quality of the developed product. The term encompasses three core aspects that QA specialists focus on in their work: quality assurance, quality control, and product testing.
Quality assurance is a broad term. It involves a set of planned actions and organizational steps which ensure that the software development process is performed according to the predetermined standards. The main Quality Assurance focus is how the development activities are performed. Therefore, these standards are set even before software developers start building a digital solution and they are aimed at preventing any errors during the development stage.
Quality control is all about the quality of the developed product. It focuses on specific tasks and the development processes of a certain project. Quality Control ensures that the developers verify that the product complies with all the specifications and requirements at the development stage.
Product testing is the most basic activity of software quality management. The main focus of product testing is defect detecting and addressing technical issues in the developed solution. Product testing ensures that the built application is stable, has great usability and performance, is secure, and more. This process is the most integrated into the software development process though how it’s performed depends on the Quality Control and Quality Assurance aspects.
Techniques to Improve Software Quality
Software quality management is a comprehensive process that covers the pre-development, development, and post-development stages. Therefore, there is a wide range of techniques and activities QA specialists can undertake to ensure product quality. Let’s have a look at some of the most effective ones.
Test Early and Automate
Test early and Test often are two good principles that have been incorporated into the software development practice since developers started shifting away from the Waterfall model. The principles involve the idea that the earlier a defect is detected and fixed the less expensive it will be on the later development stages. Therefore, the earlier software developers adopt tests in the development process, the better the quality of the final solution.
Test early principle allows QA specialists and software developers to create tests from the very start of the development process. However, with time the number of tests grows and it becomes hard to nearly impossible to implement the Test often principle. That’s where the Automation principle steps in. With Automation, QA and software developers can effectively perform routine testing activities, gradually increasing their coverage and ensuring product stability and accuracy.
Implement Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Testing
Cross-device and cross-platform testing are essential procedures for applications that are designed to operate on different platforms and devices. With this type of testing, software, and QA experts verify if the developed solutions run seamlessly across various web browsers and on different devices be it a desktop computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.
Today, cross-device and cross-platform testing is becoming an integral part of effective product testing as more and more solutions are built to run on several browsers, operating systems, and devices. Using special testing tools, software developers and QA specialists can quickly determine if the developed applications simply scale to different platform requirements and if they can run smoothly across multiple devices.
Use Quality Controls from the Beginning
Using quality controls at the very beginning of the software development process allows for better managing risks, reducing development costs, and building an application that closely matches the product and quality requirements. Therefore, QA specialists work on quality controls and test documentation creation before starting the development process.
This usually involves the development of a software requirements specification document (SRS) that includes functional and non-functional requirements. The implementation of a test-driven development (TDD) approach is also a common practice when a set of unit tests serve as documentation for the written code.
Continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline is another practice that helps software developers automate the software delivery process while ensuring its high quality. The pipeline involves several steps, including the code-writing process, running product tests, and new software version deployment.
The CI/CD pipeline is often adopted in various software development methodologies like Agile, Extreme programming, and many others. It establishes the practices of regular code reviews, prioritization of automated testing over manual testing, ensuring that source code is released only after passing the required tests, and other activities for quality application development.
Create a Quality Management Plan
When it comes to creating documentation for product development, having well-defined requirements is great, yet not enough. To ensure that quality assurance and control as well as product testing are effectively enforced and fulfilled, QA and software development teams should have an elaborated quality management plan.
Building a quality management plan is an initial step of any software development process. It helps prevent many development failures even before software developers start coding. The plan should outline an acceptable product quality level and describe how software developers and QA specialists should reach it.
An effective quality management plan can include the following points, though it shouldn’t be strictly limited by them: quality standards, product quality expectations, roles and responsibilities, goals and timeline, testing strategy, test plan, test cases, testing tools, etc.
Review, Revise, Remember
High-quality support for digital solutions requires much attention to the tools and practices the testing process relies on. Therefore, software development and QA teams take certain steps to adopt the best instruments and approaches in their work. For this, they:
- Review – continuously review their testing standards and error handling approaches. This ensures that all the defects and issues found during the development process are effectively fixed and controlled.
- Revise – after each project, QA and software development teams look back at the development process and consider which quality assurance approaches could be improved and which ones worked best.
- Remember – is the practice of keeping a record of positive and negative experiences and considering how the acquired from the previous experience quality assurance activities can work in the upcoming project.
Communication is a Key
Communication is a fundamental part of effective quality assurance. Ui/UX designers, software developers, QA specialists, business analysts, and many other team members are involved in the software product development process. Therefore, well-established communication is a must.
Smooth communication can take many different forms in teams such as software quality assurance KPIs accessible for all the team members; the ability to provide feedback to the development and QA teams, ensuring all the expectations are being met; code review and test-case review meetings; quality assurance discussion with customers, and many others.
Software quality assurance is an important part of any software development process that extends beyond the borders of just finding and fixing critical defects. To establish effective software quality management practices, companies require building teams focused on quality assurance.
If you’ve got an already developed digital solution or you’re in the process of building one and it seems like you’re lacking well-established quality assurance practices, then you can always find a team of strong QA specialists at Scand. Our QA experts have worked on various software development projects where they’ve acquired the best software testing practices and quality assurance approaches.