Because the likelihood of cyber-attacks increases as more people work from home, quality assurance becomes even more important as it relates to software development and testing. It ensures that the root causes of software vulnerabilities are discovered and fixed before they reach production. Below we discuss a few best practices for an effective QA process.
What is Quality Assurance (QA) testing?
QA testing is the process that ensures a premium quality product for customers. QA is merely the strategy used to avoid any software product or service problems and to make sure that the user experience is great for customers. But what are the best practices in quality assurance?
The combination of test automation with manual testing
Your QA testing technique must preferably incorporate both manual and automated testing. Determining which kind of testing would be most appropriate at each of the various stages of the product is key.
Manual testing facilitates greater coverage of conditions and scenarios, and the feedback provided by QA testers on the experience and feel of the application will certainly be extremely useful. Manual tests are most suitable for ad-hoc testing, exploratory testing, and usability testing. Preferably, manual tests need to be executed by highly skilled and knowledgeable testers using a vast array of operating systems and devices and representing various end-user profiles.
For quicker turnaround in testing, automated tests can be used to supplement manual testing. Automation is the most suitable option for load tests, white box testing, and other performance testing.
Any kind of testing that needs to be carried out repeatedly ought to be automated. Automated tests are reliable as well as practical and will assist in ensuring that the application performs as expected from a technical viewpoint.
Automation won’t be suitable for all testing scenarios. Crowdtesting can be used to supplement the manual testing being performed in-house. This will accommodate significantly larger-scale testing on the product in a time-efficient way.
Agile methodologies and software testing
Using a methodology that includes testing in a sequence of brief development cycles is another QA best practice worthy of consideration.
In light of the fact that mobile apps usually have short development cycles and their users expect so much in terms of quality, functionality, and updates, it would be sensible to apply agile methodology.
Agile methodologies make QA testing part of the design and development process, as opposed to it being a totally separate phase. With quality as the guiding principle, the design and development process incorporates test results.
This is a joint effort among developers, designers, the QA team, and at times even the users, which can be facilitated with the use of a single repository for the application code.
For newly added features, teams will undergo a short development or design cycle, then a targeted quality control and testing phase, with additional security, stress, and regression testing as required. What takes place in the next development or design cycle will be determined by the results of this phase.
When you adopt this approach it will be necessary to leverage automation to keep things moving. Test automation decreases the turnaround time of the targeted testing phases so that you could move on to the next development cycle in as little as a few hours or days. Manual tests will however need to be scheduled after some key development or design cycles so that feedback on user experience and various key elements of the application can be incorporated.
A framework will need to be developed so that the data generated from the short testing phases can be reviewed. Functional testing will not be effective without its feedback being incorporated as early as possible into the development and design process.
The test case writing process
Should tests be written by developers?
While the agile approach requires the involvement of developers in the test case writing process, they might write code simply to pass the test or subconsciously create tests with limited coverage. Making QA one of the developer’s responsibilities might result in some quality standards being neglected.
Therefore, although some teams develop the test plan they outsource the process or hand it over to specialized QA engineers.
Although there should be a narrow focus on each test case, your test case suite should be cohesive and its scope should be adapted to the full range of your project.
Customize tests and execute them in an environment that differs from the one used in development. Expectations for each test should be clearly identified and test results should be measurable.
Each test case should be broken down into a sequence of succinct steps. Following these steps will determine whether or not a feature works. Picture writing a test case as a set of actions related to a question. As the action is taken, human testers or an automated test should answer a basic question to assess the action’s success.
Test case instructions must be clearly written so that testers easily understand what is required of them. A lot of time can be saved and better results can be achieved when there is no chance of misinterpretation of test cases, instructions, or tutorials. Testing tools are available to simplify the process.
Complementing agile methodology
Two strategies commonly used in software development that complement agile methodology are continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). A continuous testing strategy can be incorporated into these.
Developers who don’t use CI and CD separate their work and late into the development cycle, put together various sections of the code. These different segments of code can end up being incompatible and incohesive.
CI uses a single code repository. Small changes are made to the code and small sections of code are regularly uploaded to the repository. Quality management can be incorporated into this methodology by performing a series of tests whenever the code is updated. Testing is required for the new segments, but regression testing is also necessary to see how the product’s main features are affected by the changes.
CD facilitates the constant release of new product iterations. This approach quickly and efficiently addresses bugs as well as issues affecting user experience.
Incorporating user feedback into your continuous integration and continuous delivery processes is key to quickly addressing issues for the release of a newly enhanced product version.
Once more, testing will have to be incorporated into your process, for example, by the use of crowd testers to carry out usability tests prior to the release of a new product version.
Establishing your QA testing strategies
The ideal testing methodology is one that provides the required information so that your design and development teams are able to create a high-quality application. Keep in mind that software quality is not determined by testing but rather by the results of the QA tests and how those results are used.
Your QA testing approach must be adapted to whatever product you are developing.
Best practices in QA testing
- Focus on testing one thing at a time: test objectives should be clear. Each test should zero in on one feature or address issues such as security or user interface.
- Be knowledgeable about various tests: Ensure that you know which tests are available, what they would be best suited for, and how to use them.
- Leverage analytics: determine which QA metrics should be tracked. Record every test carried out and use this information to pinpoint the likelihood of bugs being present. This will assist in the development of new tests to address problem areas.
- Employ regression testing: code improvements, changes, or updates can alter the performance of the application so it is imperative that tests are run to ensure that the app still functions as expected.
- Select the optimum test environment: try taking into account a wide variety of scenarios, consisting of various devices, operating systems, and user profiles.
- Track and report bugs: determine the type of data needed and how you will report bugs. Determine whether you will build a bug tracking tool specifically for your workflow or use one that is open-source.
- Pay proper attention to the user interface: To get a feel for the user interface of the application, carry out end-to-end scenarios by using manual functional tests. Ideally, this should be done after fixing issues detected during integration and unit tests.
- Use integration and unit testing: in unit testing, individual modules of your application will be tested in isolation, but integration testing checks how well the different modules work together when combined as a group. To save time it would be best to run unit tests in parallel, but never move on to integration testing unless you have ascertained that individual modules work as they should.
Attaining high speed and quality
High speed and quality should be key objectives when building API, web applications, or downloadable software. For efficiency, your QA testing process should be reviewed regularly as you go through the various cycles of your project.
High quality can be achieved through the creation of a framework and the establishment of best practices in test writing and implementation.
To simplify the process of reporting bugs and sharing feedback, the written tests provided to human quality assurance testers ought to be perused, and automated test codes should also be tested.
Efficiency must also be one of your top priorities. One of the best ways to efficiently track and address quality issues is through the use of an off-the-shelf bug tracker like Jira.
In order to achieve high quality and speed, it is imperative that you maintain a list of clearly defined quality objectives. These objectives must align with user expectations and be used to write test cases. ISO 9000, as well as stakeholder needs, must also be taken into account.
Providing a clear set of quality objectives will assist designers, developers, and testers in better understanding what is expected of them, and will promote where everyone accepts full responsibility for quality.
Another important element of QA is crowdtesting. It is a time-efficient approach that unlocks new possibilities in instances where the depth and scope of testing were limited.
Crowdtesting facilitates large-scale testing. It accommodates thousands of QA testers on a wide range of operating systems, devices, and networks, making it possible to cover various scenarios, find a greater number of bugs, and complete tests in as little as a few hours.
You can begin by reassessing the way in which your team members work, for example, by the adoption of agile methodology or the introduction of CI and CD as core elements of your workflow. You also need to combine various testing methods such as in-house testing, crowdtesting, and automated testing in order to reduce turnaround time and achieve a wider scope coverage.
You can improve individual tests by narrowing their focus and setting clear objectives. The adoption of a few key strategies in your QA testing process can help you achieve greater speed and higher quality.
A final note
Finally, establish a QA strategy that is unique to your product and its lifecycle, and that aligns with the scope of your project, end-user expectations, and vision of quality.