How To Ensure Your QA Testing Finds Defects

A common misconception about software quality assurance can be found right in its name–that the process is in place to confirm a piece of software is quality. However, the ultimate goal of any QA testing cycle should be to find all the ways a piece of code or software isn’t quality and help a DevOps team figure out what to do about it before release. Whether you’re an executive, a manager, or an engineer, you should never be operating under the assumption that an application in development is anything but flawed. So if your tests are coming up roses across the board, it’s not time to celebrate—it’s time to ask if they are good tests. How can you ensure that your QAs actually finding software defects? Here’s our tried-and-tested advice based on decades of global software testing.

 

Plan and Define Your QA Goals

One of the most common issues we see when consulting with clients is testing that is being conducted without clearly defined test cases. Without a goal for the test that is specific to the application, we wonder, why run the test at all? Before running a software test, a team should be asking:

  • What requirement is this test going to examine?
  • What prerequisite tests do we need to run before this one?
  • What will be the steps for the test?
  • What is the expected result—and, later, what was the actual result?

Knowing exactly why a test needs to be conducted and what the expected outcomes are is the first step to identifying defects.

 

Specify and Specialize Tester Roles

Quality assurance is a broad category of work and can apply to many different components of a piece of software. For instance, a banking company may have applications that are used by bank tellers, loan officers, an HR team, and consumer-facing mobile banking. Asking a team of QA specialists to conquer the entire spectrum of conditions and uses may result in inconsistent test results, particularly if a single tester or group of testers are inexperienced in a particular area; mobile testing, for example, has a wholly different set of requirements than a proprietary software used internally by the human resources department. Rather, it makes more sense to divide your QA team into dedicated sectors that can handle specific areas of software. Not only will this ease the load carried on the shoulders of your specialists, but splitting up the work can improve quality by allowing individual testers to learn the nuances of a section of applications.

Specify Code Quality Metrics

Both QA engineers and their managers need to be able to concretely say whether a testing process is producing good or bad results. To do so, a department should be implementing universal code metrics. Though there are many options for preestablished measurement tools, a standard and often used one is the CISQ Software Quality Model. This standard breaks down quality of software into five categories, and can help determine how to develop your tests:

  • Reliability – How long can a particular system run without producing failure; confirms application downtime.
  • Performance Efficiency – How does a system perform in a specific time frame during varying conditions. This includes load, stress, and functionality testing.
  • Security – Can a system protect data against breaches? Often this is measured by whether information was lost, and if so, how much.
  • Maintainability – How easy is it for a piece of software to be modified for other purposes?
  • Rate of Delivery – How many software releases are provided for users?

 

Automate Repetitive QA Tests

Although all QA testing is important to software development, not all tests are necessarily created equal, or need to be re-created with every release cycle. There are some that are inherently repetitive and monotonous and can force your most talented QA specialists to spend hours or even days running iterations of tests instead of making an impact in other areas. It is important to note, though, that some tests are better automation candidates than others. Automate the most repetitive tests on multiple builds or data sets, or tests that may fail due to human error. Good examples include regression testing, load testing, or regularly scheduled functionality tests. In fact, automated testing can integrate with the ever-necessary process of continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Quality assurance testing is your #1 resource when it comes to producing successful pieces of software. Without an adequate testing team working hard to find specific defects and flaws, you may be stuck fixing issues far down the line that inconvenience your staff as well as your customers. That’s where iLAB comes in. We are industry leaders in QA testing and can help to ensure your applications are running smoothly, as well as to help train your existing team to produce stellar software. Contact us today to learn more.