Why QA Should Be Included into Your Software Development Cycle?

A successful launch of a software product is a more valuable goal than high speed of development or low costs. Therefore, software testing must be included in every step of software development process. In consideration of the complexity of modern software, it’s hard to imagine a situation when development process can do without any tests at all. Nevertheless, sometimes there are cases of unsuccessful application launches caused by the wrong approach to the testing process. The reason is simple. Software development companies might include QA into the overall process just as a separate phase of the project which is isolated from other stages of development.

QA

Complex architecture is a distinctive feature of modern software solutions. Avoiding the implementation of software testing process during the development lifecycle, you risk facing decreased functionality, security level, and software performance. There’s a natural question arising: “What should a development company do to guarantee the better quality of software?” Let’s consider the advantages of including QA in the main stages of SDLC process and major benefits of such approach for your customer.

The Importance of Quality Assurance

Implementing QA at every step of the software development process, you can significantly improve the quality, performance, and reliability of the future app. Performing the testing process, the QA team checks if software performs all documented features and doesn’t make what it wasn’t initially designed for.

To guarantee the high quality of software, the testing activities should be included in the development process. It’s particularly important to implement testing at the early stages of development because it helps to decrease the amount of effort required for fixing the found bugs.

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Let’s check the main advantages of testing during the whole development process:

  • Testing performed at the early stages of development significantly decreases the cost of bugs
  • Keeping in mind characteristics of the modern market, we can conclude that only the high-class software has enough competitive qualities. Therefore, investing your resources in software development, you must assure that the final product will be good enough to compete with the existing solutions. Software testing during the development process is one of the major factors affecting the quality of the final result
  • The environment that developers use during work on the project differs from the one in which it will eventually run. Testing allows checking how your software works in different environments which eventually can help to increase user satisfaction

Tests You Should Perform at Each Stage of Development

Let’s consider the main stages of SDLC and consider the tests that allow increasing the quality of software. Also, we’ll discuss what benefits these tests can provide to a customer.

According to the chosen software development methodology, the whole life cycle can consist of a different number of phases. To simplify the whole story, we’ll focus on four main development process stages which are common for almost any project:

  1. Requirements gathering
  2. Analysis and design
  3. Software development process
  4. Pre-release and deployment

Stage 1. Requirements Gathering

The main task at this point is to gather the business requirements for the final product. In outline, these requirements usually look like this: who will use the software and what kind of data will be used in what way.

At this step, the QA team performs the requirements testing. Its main purpose is to find the errors in the business logic of the software product. After the full documentation is compiled, the QA team can assess it by the following criteria:

  • completeness
  • redundancy
  • unambiguousness
  • lack of inconsistency
  • rankability
  • traceability
  • verifiability

Thorough testing of software documentation allows developers to find errors at the early stages of the process which results in the decreased cost of their fixing and, as a result, lower costs on development. More qualitative documentation reduces the laboriousness of the project and lowers the overall time of development. Unambiguous and complete business requirements allow the software development team to assess the amount of work more accurately and better compile the technical task. Thanks to careful detailing and reduced the risks, the cost of the development process can be decreased.

Stage 2. Analysis and Design

At this stage of the process, developers use the documentation created in the previous step. On its basis, the application prototype is created. Also, developers design the architecture of software.

Prototype testing process helps to assess the quality of software and its commercial prospects. Testing the prototype, we can make important changes according to the documented requirements. Testing the software project at the phase of prototype creation, you can save time and effort since everything will be analyzed in details long before the first code line is written. The QA team pays particular attention to identification of logical errors in the prototype. These errors can lead to system failures in case of their migration to the latest stages of development process. Also, the prototype can be compared to the similar systems available on the market which will allow you to offer some improvement options. Prototype testing process helps to assess the approximate development cost for each stage of development which allows choosing the best development and quality assurance methodologies.

Prototype usability audit allows appreciating the usability of the future app. The QA team studies the prototype provided by the customer. In case of need, testers can offer some recommendations on prototype improvements. As a result, there’s a possibility to increase the usability of software. Such testing usually takes the following steps:

  1. Testing of a schematic prototype at the first stage of design
  2. Testing the prototype of medium detail
  3. Testing the finished prototype with the approved design

One of the main advantages of prototype usability audit at this stage of the development process is significantly reduced costs of bug fixing compared to the latest steps.

Stage 3. Development Stage

At this phase of the process, developers write the source code of the application. The rich functionality of modern software results in significant amount of code required for implementing all the functions. Therefore, there’s a pretty natural intention to test as many functions as possible.

The component testing process helps you check each component of the application (object, module, class, etc.) and check if it works correctly. Such process implies the testing of all newly implemented functionality that appears during the software development. Each component is tested isolated within the artificially created environment. The QA team creates a list of test cases describing the steps to be performed and expected results. Also, testers generate a list of usage scenarios containing sequences of user actions and expected system reactions. The component testing process is performed during the creation of each separate module of the software product. In case of detected bugs, such approach allows redesigning only the tested module instead of the whole system. The component testing process allows finding shortcomings in system architecture and helps to evaluate the performance of particular parts of software at each step of development.

Cross-browser and cross-platform testing process allow you to check the working capacity of software launched in different browsers or platforms. The features of those or other browsers can change the look-and-feel of launched applications and sites. Therefore, the QA team should test websites and applications in different browsers. Moreover, it’s crucial to check if the app works correctly on platforms specified by a customer in the list of requirements. Such testing implies manual and automated testing. In case of automated testing, the QA team uses a virtual machine that allows checking the work of software in different environments. Usually, it’s not enough to run only automated tests because such approach doesn’t allow checking all scenarios of user interaction with the application or website. That’s why it’s crucial to perform manual testing simulating the actions of users.

The automated testing process should be implemented when the QA team deals with a big project. Such situation leads to a vast amount of tests to be performed. Moreover, there’s a need for frequent regression testing of complex calculations and scenarios. The QA team creates use cases for the application and a check-list of required checkings on which basis the functional tests are built. These tests are running daily with automated generation of test reports during the whole process. The QA team maintains the existing tests and creates the new ones if needed. The automated testing allows finding bugs which are hard to find manually. Using this approach, we can increase the speed and quality of complex tests related to all types of calculations. For example, we can use this approach for checking complex formulas. The accuracy and reliability of tests increases as well. For a customer, the automated testing process is essential because it allows decreasing the time required for regression testing which reduces the overall time spent on the project. Since automated testing provides the possibility to run scenarios that can’t be tested manually, there’s the possibility to perform tests in any quantity without increasing labor costs. Also, such approach allows avoiding the human factor.

See also: integration testing, system testing, UI testing.

Stage 4. Pre-release and Deployment

This stage of software development process usually consists of two steps: beta-deployment and final deployment. The process of beta-deployment is required for providing the QA team with time for finding the bugs before the product release. The reports generated during the testing process can be used by developers to make the last fixes before the application deployment. That’s is the stage when the QA team checks the correctness of bug fixings made during the previous phases and tests the software stability.

The regression testing process allows ensuring that all the found bugs were fixed correctly and the new ones haven’t appeared. The QA team performs a comprehensive checking of the whole application. First of all, we should perform the checking of the fixed bugs. After that, the QA team tests all functions of software according to the check-list. During the regression testing process, testers don’t search for the new bugs. Instead of that, they check the performance of what worked before and what was fixed. In case regression testing has been finished successfully (if all functions operate according to documentation and there were no high-priority bugs), we can assume that the application works according to the initial plan. After the testing process is finished, the current version of the app can be moved to production. Regression testing allows reducing the probability of quality degradation with increasing software functionality and a customer can be assured of the product quality.

Security testing process takes place when the development company creates the whole application from scratch or when a customer already has an application to be tested. According to the available budget, the QA team can perform brief or full software testing. The brief testing process implies the usage of the application that checks the main security-related bugs. This app is constantly updated and fully compliant with OWASP standards. Such kind of testing covers the major part of potential security issues. More thorough testing implies not just automated testing but also a set of manual tests. During this stage, the QA team checks if your software is compliant with the current security standards. Thanks to these tests, increases the possibility that in case of hacking with the use of automated applications, the program will stand longer. Security testing process is especially necessary for the customer because it decreases the probability of unauthorized access to the system and subsequent leakage of data. A software company provides the customer with a detailed analytical report containing the list of all potential security vulnerabilities along with recommendations for their fixing. Such approach allows a customer to assess the approximate costs of fixing security issues.

Stress testing allows identifying the issues with application or website performance that potentially can lead to system malfunction. During the stress testing, the QA team simulates the high load on the system which allows checking the stability of the application, its scalability and fault tolerance. Stress testing takes places at the stage of software development before the application launch, and before releasing a new version. Such approach helps to identify bugs leading to the failure of operability and allows developers to begin correcting them in time.

Conclusion

Instead of overloading the QA team with tasks at the last stages of development, you as a customer should consider a more reliable scenario. Along with your development partner, you can carefully plan the conduct of test activities at the early stages of the project. During the stage of planning of each phase of software development, project managers should define all types of tests to be performed. After that, time and QA engineers needed to complete the testing on time should be appointed. Performing tests specific for a certain development stage allows your team to save sufficient amount of time and effort because early identification of bugs decreases the costs of their elimination.

Alexandr Rayskiy, the Head of QA Department of XB Software, has commented:
When you perform testing during the whole software development lifecycle, the final application is more stable, reliable, and provide the functionality that attracts the attention of a broad audience. That’s why, the customer can be sure that such application will be accepted by users which will result in the better return on investments.

 

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