While the role of quality assurance in software development has origins dating back to the 19th century, the role has shifted in its significance recently. An often-misunderstood part of the development process, the role of quality assurance is not to be minimized and if anything, has become more critical to ensuring software development projects run smoothly in recent years.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what exactly quality assurance is, what goes into testing, what role they play in the development process, why it matters, and how clients can take advantage of the unique skills and perspective quality assurance brings to the table.

What is quality assurance?

Simply put, quality assurance (QA) is the practice of making sure that when a client sees a software product or website, everything is working as intended or meeting a client’s requirements. The quality assurance team acts as both an internal resource and liaison between clients and developers to ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to project requirements and features.

There are times in the development process where developers and clients can become misaligned and QA’s role is to help minimize these conflicts and to ensure that client needs are being translated properly into the final product. By having both the context of the client and the development team’s processes, they can provide better insight and explanation to improve the final product.

What is QA testing?

A major portion of any QA analyst’s job involves testing, usually at different stages during the development process. When testing a software product or website, a QA Analyst might do any of the following:

  • Click website links to ensure they direct to the right place.
  • Log in/out of a platform to understand the login process.
  • Perform a specific action on a page to see if the desired result is achieved, like filling out a website form, downloading a resource, etc.
  • Boundary testing, which means that a QA would test all potential ways that a user would interact with something on a site and see what happens.
  • Run through a production-ready website or application checklist, double-checking the work of developers.
  • Acting as a project manager throughout the life of the project to ensure that the client’s needs are addressed in the final product.

While it seems simple, performing these actions before deploying a software product is critical to ensure that the product is working properly and that the application or website is performing as intended. Conducting these tests along the way during the development process makes the client/developer feedback loop smaller and allows for issues to be addressed as they arise – rather than all at once. While we have experience working with a variety of industries, we aren’t familiar with all the jargon that might be used in your organization, so testing often helps to decrease anything that could get lost in translation.

Additionally, addressing software bugs early benefits both clients and developers – clients because their needs are addressed ASAP and for developers, it helps to minimize context switching and allows them to quickly fix issues.

What role does QA play in the software development process?

QA can get involved at various stages of a software development project, from early on in the estimation and sales phase to the end of the development phase. Typically, the role of QA in software development is to be involved early and often in the process to ensure that all bases are covered when scoping out a development project. Since QA helps to bridge the gap between developers and clients, they act as the voice of the client to ensure that their needs are being consistently met, similar to that of a project manager.

QA helps to explain why things were developed the way they were and helps the client to assess the worth of changes. Since custom software can be unique for every client and hard to define, the role of QA is important in narrowing a project’s scope and allows for more streamlined testing.

A major benefit of having QA involved in the software development process is that they play an important role in the recreation of the failure and root cause analysis, leveraging their development knowledge to help determine what caused a part of the software product to fail and help to create a resolution. This makes a massive difference in the testing process. Rather than having a client test the product and find errors, the QA specialist can do so instead, saving the client their valuable time. 

Why does QA matter?

So what is the importance of quality assurance in software development? Clients don’t always see the benefit of QA, especially during their first development project. However, QA’s role has many benefits that clients love, including:

  • Saves time in the long run because testing can be done alongside development. 
  • Keeps development resources available to address the issues your platform might have post-deployment.
  • Helps to define issues that developers need to fix. Rather than the client relaying issues to developers, QA can do that and provide additional technical and business context.
  • For more complex projects, it is helpful to have someone who has an intimate knowledge of your project and how all the parts work together to be the one testing out new features. If you’re (the client) just clicking on links but don’t know the intent behind them, how can you know if the desired result is happening? Or conversely, what isn’t happening.
  • The trained eye of a QA analyst means there will be a set of “fresh eyes” on your project, looking exactly for what needs to be tested.

Because we’ve worked with clients of all sizes and types, there are many solutions that might work well with your problem. 

How can clients make the most of a QA resource?

To make the most of a QA resource during your next software development project, here are a few handy pieces of advice:

  1. Having clear requirements about what you’re looking to achieve always makes communication smoother. Unsure of exactly what you’re looking for? No problem – be sure to ask a lot of questions!
  2. Take the time to walk through changes with your QA resource to give them instant feedback. This means that there will be less back & forth to fix issues and will strengthen your partnership!
  3. Understand that our team might have additional ideas for enhancements to your project. You can take or leave them but if you want to implement them, know that this might up the number of hours spent on your project (or budget spent!)

Having a quality QA resource can greatly benefit your team when it comes to custom software development projects! Interested in learning more about how QA fits into the software development process? Read our blog post on our step-by-step approach and reach out today to get started!