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The role of QA testing in software development

Underestimating the importance of the role of the QA tester in the software development lifecycle often leads to problems and inferior products.

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Do you believe software development ends with, well, the developers? Think again. Quality assurance (QA) testing is an essential step — or rather, series of steps — in the software development lifecycle, one you would be remiss to overlook. It’s key to ensuring that you’re meeting not only the requirements of your product but also your goals as a business.

Because the process requires a careful eye and objectivity, many businesses choose to outsource QA testing to third parties. So, just what role do these services or in-house testers play in software development? Here’s a look at the ins and outs of the process.

What is a QA tester?

QA analysts, engineers, or testers may have varying responsibilities and tasks depending on their job functions. Generally speaking, they are involved in writing scripts for automated tests, performing manual tests, and tracking and reporting bugs, glitches, and areas for potential product improvement. These duties are all toward the end goal of ensuring the usability, functionality, and ultimate all-around quality of software before it reaches the market.

While the testers or QA companies don’t actually resolve issues or fine-tune products themselves, they work closely with the software developers to address any areas they should improve.

Testers don’t need to have actual programming knowledge, although it can help them to better understand the development and spot errors. They should, however, possess skills such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Analytical thinking
  • Critical thinking

Additionally, they need to understand how to script tests and use testing tools, as well as evaluate the results. Many have a math or science background but that’s not a mandatory skill.

Why QA matters

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Software QA outsourcing or working with in-house testers is crucial to ensure the quality of your product. While testers can’t completely guarantee that no bugs are present, they can do their absolute best to minimize them and their effects on the product.

However, software QA services do more than just eliminate glitches. Through a series of testings, including taking the product for several test-runs, they also evaluate the performance, functionality, security, and other measures, all toward the goal of making the user experience as positive as possible.

Some businesses may wonder why software developers can’t just test the products themselves. For one, QA testing requires a separate skill set from that of programming. Additionally, QA companies or testers can offer an outside perspective. In other words, the developers are deeply involved with the creation of the product as the people who built it and may not be able to look at their products objectively as testers can.

Software QA outsourcing, in particular, can be especially helpful since these professionals are quite literally outsiders to your company.

What happens in QA testing

There are several important steps in the QA process. We’ve covered some of them, such as conducting automated and manual tests. Other tasks include:

  • Establishing the requirements and when enough testing has been performed
  • Determining which tests are needed
  • Monitoring automated tests
  • Documenting results and sharing reports with the developers
  • Defining what steps the software development team needs to take to improve the product
  • Accounting for consumer needs and wants, such as the usability and design of the product
  • Ensuring that the product meets industry standards

Software QA services don’t just come in at the end or near-end of the development process, either. They should be closely involved from the beginning, evaluating different iterations of the product at various phases and undertaking much of the planning to ensure that the requirements will be met. This is usually the team that will ultimately greenlight the product, saying when it’s ready to be released.

Underestimating the importance of the role of the QA tester in the software development lifecycle often leads to problems and inferior products. The last thing you want to do is recalling a product because of customer complaints about glitches. QA testing plays a fundamental role in not only ensuring that the product meets the established requirements and industry standards but also that it offers an optimal user experience, leading to greater customer satisfaction.

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