Quality Assurance. Does QA Help Your Project Save Money, Time, and Nerves?
Quality Assurance is one of the most important parts of the user application development process.
After all, as an IT-entrepreneur, you want your software to be not only beautifully designed, well-coded and liked by your target audience, but also free of bugs and errors.
That’s a “Bigfoot”, no less. Sometimes, even tech giants are struggling to provide quality for their end users. The disaster with Apple and iOS 8 updates in 2014 clearly shows this.
After the update was released, Apple had to recall it a few hours after its release, because it blocked calls and disabled the touch ID function. Disappointing, isn’t it?
In this article, we’d like to explain to you the matter and importance of Quality Assurance in software development, so that the next time you come up with a cool idea, “save money and test the application yourself,” you would think twice, pick up your phone and recruit professionals from Kernelics.
You don’t need the risk. Especially when you work in industries such as finance, healthcare or food technology, where every failure can lead to the loss of your customers, money, or, even worse, bring harm to the well-being of your patients.
The definition of Quality Assurance and its place in Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
Software Quality Assurance is a process that ensures that the manufactured software meets certain requirements and quality standards.
It focuses on the processes used to produce a high-quality product.
It represents the part of Quality Management that is mainly responsible for getting an assurance to the software by checking if the quality requirements in the process are met.
This is done by a number of previously set requirements and a set of actions that are taken during this process.
The QC is responsible for software testing activities, i.e. meeting product quality requirements.
QC is a subset of QA and includes activities and techniques that allow identifying errors.
The scope of work in QC includes inspections, providing reviews, and the process of software testing, and if the requirements expect it, it also includes analyses.
Let us focus on quality testing, i.e. testing techniques carried out during the testing process.
Software testing is one of the critical phases in the software life cycle process which allows us to move on to the next life cycle stages.
Testing itself consists of several phases:
· Test analysis
· Test planning
· Preparation of test cases, test data, and test environment
· Testing and error logging
· Completion of testing by approval test conditions
The testing process, consists of many techniques.
The choice depends on the stage in the software life cycle, as well as the area of the application.
The main software testing techniques can be divided into 3 groups: functional, performance, and security tests.
A software product should correspond to a certain set of requirements to be considered a high-grade product.
The following are some important quality factors:
· Performance — the capacity to perform transactions under a specified workload with the adequate response time
· Extensibility — the ability to add functions to the existing system without damaging it
· Usability — a simple and clear interface
· Security — the ability to protect personal data via authorization and authentication techniques
QA and QC are the two main practices that ensure quality.
They have different functions, but are closely related and should be inseparable in each project. With QA, you will ensure the correct process. Using only QC, you will not see the source of the problem and the software development process will not be improved.
This is why many companies follow both practices to succeed.
We at Kernelics do not choose between QC and QA, but focus on both quality control and high-quality assurance processes.
The Price of an Error
It happens, that some people may not see the full picture as well as comprehend the benefits of QA. This may result in trimming the number of resources allocated to testing or even full dismissal of it during software development.
This is an extremely important process that indirectly saves time and money.
However, the time limitations on testing and neglecting it has a direct impact on the final product.
There are many examples in history that show how important this process is:
· One of the most indicative software disasters was a bug in a radiotherapy device at the National Cancer Institute. The radiotherapy machine miscalculated the radiation dose during therapy so that the dose was even 100 times higher than it should be
· The error was also committed by Airbus, and the consequences were even more tragic as the software error contributed to the death. The faulty programming project of the engine control in the A400M airbus was the consequence of the failure
· The problem did not spare Yahoo either, when in 2016, 500 million credentials from 4 years were revealed through a gap in software
· In 1996, a system error at a major U.S. bank (First National Bank of Chicago) caused $920 million to be credited to 823 clients accounts
A few examples listed above remind us how important testing is in software development, regardless of the field and type of software. It also shows how this particular development element has a direct impact on business and customer feedback.
The ambiguity and complexity of the systems make it impossible to be sure that the software is error-free in most cases, only a set of tests increases confidence in the product.
Testing efforts should start as early as possible because the cost of repairing the defect depends on the phase in the software life cycle. Literally speaking, the sooner we find a bug, the cheaper it will be to fix it.
The benefits of Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance Saves Time and Money
According to CrossTalk’s analysis of “The Journal of Defense Software Engineering”, differences in the time to fix errors or problems depend on the phase of the software development cycle. According to the analysis, it can take up to 150 times longer to repair an error that occurred in production than to repair the same error at the requirements design stage.
Based on the same study, the relative cost of error correction was calculated, depending on the phase in the software life cycle.
Let’s take a more vivid example. Recently, we’ve developed our entirely new Kernelics website. Before its launch we’ve dedicated few weeks to thoroughly test it both from the functionality (performance, user flow, integrations with Strapi, Cloudinary, Heroku, and etc.) and design compliance side. We knew that if we neglect that, we can literally lose money by scaring away a potential project opportunities.
As the result, we already see a significant increase of leads and traffic!
Fixing everything after release could endanger our reputation as a high quality software provider, which is very hard to earn back.
Quality Assurance Builds Confidence in Software Product
Thanks to the high quality of the software, confidence in the product being developed increases.
Only a sufficient number of tests carried out makes us sure of our software and its compliance with the requirements.
Creating software is creating value for users, lack of quality discourages them.
Quality Assurance Hinders Breakdowns
Performing a test process helps to avoid failures, so the company can save on costly repair and maintenance work for future application development. How costly exactly?
Let’s take the example of NASA — they made mistakes in 1998, which caused the loss of the Mars orbiter.
The error was trivial because the orbiter’s software sent all the data in metric units, while the engineers processed this data as non-metric in English. This error caused a loss of $125 million!
Quality Assurance Improves Safety Level of the App
By conducting a series of safety and performance tests, it is possible to find places where architecture errors have been made that are not visible to the ordinary user. This prevents data leaks and increases security against hacking attacks.
Quality Assurance Saves Business reputation
Bug-free software helps to build the reputation we expect. Unfortunately, sometimes a small error can spoil it, such as revealing internal user data. HSBC’s IT failure resulted in millions of bank customers not having access to online accounts. Repairing the fault took 2 days. Those kinds of mistakes definitely didn’t help HSBC in maintaining an image as a trustworthy and reliable financial institution.
Quality Assurance Promotes Long-term Profit
With the examples above, we can see how the quality of the software in your projects has an impact on costs. By investing in QA, you build your business based on quality and trust, which in the long term results in the reinvestment of funds saved through early error detection.
All in all considered, our major message is that QA, when properly and timely applied, is sure to become your most effective tool in enhancing the product performance and, thus, winning your customers’ loyalty. What may be initially seen as additional expenditure, turns out to be a priceless asset in creating a valuable solution in the long term. Just think of how much invisible errors may cost you once your actual users get their unsuccessful experience. Yes, the profits from investing your funds in QA may not be seen immediately. But they are sure to eliminate huge losses on a daily basis once the app/website is deployed.
When it comes to custom software development, there is no such term as too much QA. On the contrary, the sooner it is engaged, the better your chances for success are and the more time and money resources you are sure to save. The matter is QA should not be perceived as a single stage in the product life cycle but as a background for its performance and an ongoing process that guarantees the stability of the whole idea.
Also, involving QA does not mean lack of trust, experience, or skills. It means giving your project a fresh perspective, discovering both faults and new possibilities. However, only a strong and skillful QA team is capable of choosing the best strategy, tools, and tricks for each particular project to ensure exceptional quality of your dream product. At Kernelics, we are happy to share our expertise and help make your customers feel you really care. To get more details on QA and your future project, please, contact us.