QA testing: What is it?
Quality assurance or QA testing is a process ensuring an organization delivers the best products or services. Quality Assurance aims to achieve consistent results through standardized procedures, which means organizations must also ensure their processes meet specific quality benchmarks to achieve the desired results.
QA includes all activities related to implementing standards and procedures to ensure software meets specific requirements before it is released to the general public. QA does not include the actual testing of products. It focuses on procedures providing the best results.
Software testing basic principles
The software testing principles formulated over the past 40 years are the basic rules of the process.
No matter how carefully the product is tested, we can never be 100 percent sure there is no defect. We can only reduce the number of undetected problems. It is impossible to test all combinations of inputs, scenarios, and prerequisites in an application. Instead of wasting weeks creating millions of such unlikely scenarios, it’s better to focus on significant ones.
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The error cost grows exponentially throughout the SDLC steps. Therefore, it is essential to start software testing as soon as possible, so the problems found are resolved and do not snowball.
Approximately 80 percent of bugs are found in only 20 percent of system modules. If a defect is found in a program module, there is a possibility there may be other defects. That’s why it makes sense to test this product area thoroughly.
The Pesticide Paradox
Running the same test suite won’t help you find more problems. Once the bugs found are fixed, these test scripts become useless. Therefore, it is essential to review and update tests regularly to adapt and potentially find more bugs.
Depending on the purpose or industry, different applications should be tested differently. While security may be paramount for a fintech product, it is less important for a corporate website. The latter, in turn, focuses on ease of use and speed.
The complete absence of errors in a product does not necessarily mean its success. No matter how much time you spend polishing your code or improving functionality, if your product is useless or does not meet user expectations, it will not be accepted by the target audience.
While the above principles are indisputable guidelines for every software tester, other aspects must be considered. Testing should be an independent process managed by impartial professionals.
Skills needed for QA tester
Understanding the software is critical. While you don’t need to learn how to code to start QA testing, having the tools to learn software development will help you become a more successful QA tester. From finding bugs to ensuring the simplicity and usability of the final product, QA testers have a responsibilities range that requires skills to fix bugs in the code.
To obtain the best qualifications and skills as a QA, you should consider the following skills as “essential” for accurate, efficient, and successful QA testing.
Understanding the software
QA testers are good at programming and have good reasoning skills. During the work, QAs use both manual and automated testing. In manual testing, they perform tests step by step, without test scripts. Automated testing is executed using test automation frameworks, as well as other tools and software.
Problem solving skills
QA testing is not only about finding bugs in the code but is also important to note it prioritizes the most critical bugs to fix. QA testers, who can identify the bugs that most contribute to serious code problems, are best placed to determine what needs to be prioritized to create a great application.
QA testing can be repetitive. It’s easy to lose focus after analyzing and reporting for an extended period. Much of the work is redundant, and finding bugs is time-consuming, so testers must be well disciplined to get the job done.
Testing is believed to be a process that doesn’t require much communication or collaboration. QA testing involves many exchanges between project stakeholders to work together on the ideal product.
Software testing types
Testing can be of different types. Software testing generally falls into two main categories:
- functional testing;
- non-functional testing.
Each type of testing has its characteristics, pros, and cons. Here are the most popular ones according to the International Software Testing Qualifications Board survey.
Functional testing is performed at the system and acceptance levels. The system is tested against functional requirements by supplying inputs and testing outputs in functional testing. The functional testing process includes the following set of activities:
- describes the functions the software must perform;
- forms input data depending on the specification of the function;
- determines the output depending on the function specification;
- runs a test case;
- compares received and expected results.
This testing type uses the black box method and attaches importance not to the processing itself but its results.
Depending on the workload, the behavior of the system is evaluated by various types of performance testing. They are:
- Load testing — under constantly growing load;
- Stress testing — within or beyond expected workload;
- Endurance testing — a constant and heavy workload;
- Spike testing — with a sudden and significant increase in load.
Performance testing is aimed at studying the responsiveness and stability of the system under a particular load.
Use case testing
The use case shows how the system responds to a given scenario created by the user. It is user-centric and focuses on actions and actors without considering the system’s input and output. Developers write use cases, and once completed, the system’s behavior is tested accordingly. Testers use them to create test cases.
Use case testing is utilized in developing tests at the system or acceptable level. It verifies the path used by the user works as intended and ensures tasks can be completed successfully. It helps to identify defects in integration testing. By applying use case testing, analysts can detect weaknesses and modify the system to achieve efficiency and accuracy.
Exploratory testing does not use predefined and documented test cases and steps like most types of testing do. Instead, it is a free-form, interactive process that reviews user experience rather than code. It has much in common with ad hoc or intuitive testing but is more systematic. By applying exploratory testing, experienced testers can provide valuable and verifiable results.
Usability testing is done from the end-user’s perspective to ensure the system is easy to use. This type of testing should not be confused with user acceptance testing. The latter checks the conformity of the final product with the established requirements. The former ensures the implementation approach will work for the user.
Software testing levels
Software is more than a few lines of code. Usually, it is a multi-level, complex system that includes dozens of individual functional components and third-party integrations. Effective software testing must go far beyond finding source code bugs. Testing covers the following levels of software.
The smallest testable part of a software system is referred to as a unit. Thus, this level of testing is aimed at checking each piece of the software system to ensure fulfilling requirements and functions correctly. Unit testing is usually done early in the development process by the engineers, not by the testing team.
The goal is to see if the combined devices work well together. Integration testing aims to identify flaws in the interaction between modules within a module. There are two main approaches to testing: bottom-up and top-down methods. Bottom-up integration testing starts with unit tests, progressively increasing the complexity of the software units being tested. The top-down method takes the opposite approach, first focusing on high-level combinations and then exploring simple ones.
This stage verifies that the product meets the functional and technical requirements and general quality standards. A highly professional testing team should perform system testing in an environment close to an actual business use case.
User acceptance testing
The product is tested to meet end-user requirements and accuracy. This level of testing focuses on the overall quality of the system, from content and user interface to performance issues. This step helps the team decide if the product is ready to ship or not. The acceptance phase may be followed by alpha and beta testing, allowing a small number of actual users to try the software before it is officially released.
In agile software development, testing is usually an iterative process. Although the levels typically refer to the entire product, they can apply to each added feature. At the same time, every small unit of the new functionality is checked. Engineers then study the relationships between these devices, how the part integrates with the rest of the system, and whether the latest update is ready to ship.
QA role in software testing
Most companies strive to deliver the best possible product to end consumers. However, customer focus is thrown aside to keep up with market demands and release the latest features as quickly as possible. When software is created, we expect its development, design, distribution, and delivery to be flawless.
Software testing and quality control address these various issues. The first aims to identify bugs, errors, vulnerabilities, and other defects, and the second addresses usability problems that may not be technical.
QA testing is focused on delivering the best possible outcome for the client. In the context of quality control, a software defect is not just a bug. It can be an issue affecting the end-user experience, from poor navigation to slow loading or fuzzy web textures. The only way to minimize the risk of defects and maximize the end-user experience is to include software testing and quality assurance throughout the development process.
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