Technology

QA Best Practices – What Do You Need To Know

Aleksandra Rajczyk
Aleksandra Rajczyk

Testing – a step in the app development process that can make or break your digital products. How to make sure it runs smoothly? Have a closer look at some of the best QA practices. 

Software quality assurance best practices are an essential part of the development process. It’s thanks to them we can make sure that our digital products are ready to enter the market. Quality assurance, often referred to as simply QA, has its own methodology. In this article, we are going to look at QA best practices that you can implement into your development process. 

What is Quality Assurance? What is QA testing?

Quality Assurance, or just QA, is the process of testing a product to spot any imperfections. The process also gives an insight into what could be improved. While the definitions may vary, it’s important to understand the key notions:

  • Quality – following the Merriam-Webster definition, quality is “a degree of excellence.” Product of quality meets all the needs and characteristics necessary to serve its purpose. Even if we can’t provide the perfect explanation for what is a high-quality product, everyone can recognize it. 
  • Assurance – a declaration given about a product that will work well. It guarantees that the product meets the expectations and performs according to what the user is demanding of it. 

Quality assurance testing is a process performed by testers. A tester who knows the best QA practices is also called a QA or QA engineer, which sometimes can be confusing. Their task is to make sure that the product is made the way it was supposed to be and that it works without any problems. 

What is Quality Assurance in software testing?

Testing in software has some similarities to picking up a random item from the production line in a factory to check if there are any technical issues. Quality assurance in software testing is a procedure to ensure the quality of the software – that is if the software meets the standard set up before the development process starts. 

However, QA testing doesn’t focus solely on the product – QA is part of the management because it constantly monitors the production process itself. The process of quality assurance for software makes the software development process more efficient.

Probably the best QA practice to follow is to realize that the work on quality assurance starts before the actual coding process. Part of an effective QA process is to deeply understand the product and its functionalities. 

Types of QA testing

There a few different types of QA testing, based on the main objective of the process. Below you will find the types of testing with a short description. 

Functional Testing

The system is tested against the functional requirements. The tester provides input and examines the output, so functional testing is focused mostly on results. 

Use Case Testing

Use case testing checks how a system will respond to a given scenario created by the user. Therefore, it focuses more on the action and not the product and is more user-oriented.

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is an intuitive, free-form process that gives the tester a lot of freedom. The main focus is user experience, not the code. with the main focus on validating user experience, not code. 

Performance Testing

QA tester investigates the responsiveness and stability of the system performance under a certain workload. 

Usability Testing

Usability testing is performed from the end user’s perspective to see if the system is easy to use. This testing type is not to be confused with user acceptance testing. The latter verifies that the final product meets the set requirements; the former ensures that the implementation approach will work for the user.

Not every digital product requires all of the types of testing to work well, but it’s important to incorporate different kinds of tests for optimal performance.

What are Quality Assurance best practices?

QA standards and best practices are something that every team in the world could define differently. Starting from square one, let’s remember about the end-goal of QA testing, which is to release a product that serves two purposes:

  • Provides users with a solution to their problem.
  • Meets business goals set by the client.

That is a huge audience to satisfy. This is why QA best practices are not a fixed set of rule to follow blindly. Efficient QA is based on constant learning and maintaining a healthy level of curiosity. Quality assurance methodologies standards and best practices differ from team to team. Therefore, the list below shouldn’t be treated as finished – after all, every experienced QA has their own tricks up their sleeve! 

  1. Ask the right questions

QA tester is a kind of detective. Borrow a page from Sherlock Holmes’s book and learn more about the art of deductive reasoning.

However, put aside the idea of a lone wolf detective from film noir. You have the whole team supporting you and communication is key. Allow for the communication to flow freely, without fears of looking incompetent or uninformed.  

  1. Learn about the business goals

The client you’re working with may not know everything about software engineering, but they do know how much money they want to make. Try to understand their point of view from the get-go. Don’t hesitate to join the project in the initial phase – Quality Assurance should be present in the entire lifecycle of software development. The better your understanding of the client’s vision, the better product you can deliver. It will help you with point number 1: asking the right questions. 

  1. Establish clear acceptance criteria 

Mutual understanding starts with an agreement on what’s supposed to be done and how it’s supposed to work. Make sure that you and the client are on the same page before moving on to the development phase. 

  1. Make a plan 

Even though it’s a load of work, coming up with a plan and sticking to it is one of the best QA practices. Set testing goals and requirements. Prepare testing documentation that involves checklists and acceptance criteria. Include information about the required tools and devices. 

  1. Maintain documentation

Proper documentation may save your project. Every bug should be documented and reported. The information about bugs should be as thorough as possible. You can include various media to present the problem clearly (screenshots, audios). Don’t forget to mention in which environment the bug has occurred. Thanks to this, fixing bugs will be faster and easier. 

Documentation is priceless when a new team member joins the project!

  1. Perform code review of every new feature

This is one of the best QA practices in an agile environment. To put it simply, eating a small slice of cake is far easier than devouring an entire cake at once. Make sure that every sprint has room for QA testing. This way you can catch small bugs before they become huge problems. 

  1. Don’t neglect UX

User Experience design isn’t a central part of QA methodology. Still, it is a part of the development process that is probably the closest to the end-user. That is why testers should be mindful of wireframes and UIs that go into creating the smoothest user flow possible. 

  1. Employ a multi-directional testing strategy

Combine manual and automated testing for the best results. This way you can identify different kinds of bugs before it’s too late. In some software development teams, developers write automated unit tests before they submit them to QAs. Before releasing the product to the market, test it manually from the user’s point of view.

These 8 best QA practices are a great way to improve the testing process or lay the groundwork for building a QA team. 

QA process flow

QA methodology has adapted a cycle called PDCA or Deming cycle. It’s a four-step approach to continuous improvement based on a scientific methodology that has been applied to business management. The 4 steps of the cycle are the following:

  • Plan – plan and establish the process-related goals and choose the processes needed to create the best product possible
  • Do – putting the plan into action and applying changes when necessary

Study – monitor and modify the plan so it meets the objectives

  • Act – implementing improvements to the processes

The best QA practices are simple. The PDCA/Deming cycle is proof of this!

QA automation standards

Human error is always a factor in quality assurance processes. That is why automating tests are an excellent way to boost manual testing. It’s one of the best QA practices because it helps achieve the required standard and shortens the testing time. Advanced automation is needed for continuous testing. The test automation practice is perfect for agile methodologies where the emphasis is put on continuous integration during the software development process. 

Summary

Quality assurance is a complex, multiple-step stage in the product development process. The main goal is to provide users with a product that meets their expectations and performs all of its functionalities flawlessly. In other words – it does what it’s supposed to do. There are different types of QA testing based on what facet of the product is being put to the test. The best QA practice is to begin it before the coding process starts because it is a form of software process improvement. Testing helps achieve business goals and understand users’ needs. QA best practices are suited for the agile environment. However, the client and the users are not the only people who benefit from QA: the development team since it encourages communication, openness, fixing errors in the early stages, and putting high-quality in the first place.

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