Software proprietors develop and release an increasing number of applications to satiate businesses’ demands for innovative software technology. As the competition within niche markets grow, the need to deliver a software platform to users first becomes a priority. Unfortunately, the desire to be first to market trumps the need for a fully functional application. This way of thinking may be detrimental to overall business objectives. The importance of developing software with rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) processes is paramount to ensuring the success of a software solution.
The absence of proper QA tactics in software development could have serious ramifications for any business. Defective software, caused by a lack of attention to quality assurance measures, costs businesses countless millions each year. All companies, large and small, are vulnerable to software issues. Remember Apple Maps, the Apple iOS8 update, or the April 2015 Starbucks “glitch” that cost millions in lost sales?
A company’s product speaks volumes about their business and sluggish, buggy apps with clumsy User Interfaces (UI) may tarnish a brand and cost an entity major profits. Although the time and monetary costs up front may be daunting, funding and executing a quality assurance strategy will protect your software and prevent profit loss by lackluster functionality.
To validate software development methodologies and coding syntax a very specific set of QA tests should be employed. An exhaustive QA process should include the following tests: unit, build verification, functional, business cycle, UI, regression, boundary, database integrity, performance, security, failure and recovery, configuration/compatibility and installation. Each of these tests serves a specific purpose and passing each of these tests is essential to the long-term functionality and success of a software application.
Unit, or white boxtesting, analyzes the response time of minute parts of code syntax to ensure the smallest components are functioning properly. The testing at this stage also checks for memory leaks to remove any bottlenecks in the memory profiling. Additionally, the test checks coverage and redundancies to look for unrequired or obsolete code.
The build verification test, also known as a smoke or acceptance tests, validates the system under pre-determined conditions to test functions up to a certain level. This trial gets performed at the beginning of all tests to ensure any changes that have been made previously do not affect the functionality up to the level of the existing test.
Functional testing exercises the system or application to identify risks in the business aspects of the software. This includes navigation, data entry, processing and data retrieval. QA testers interact with the app through the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and analyze the results to ensure the system works accurately.
Business cycle trial is an ongoing process that tests the system with users over a lengthy period of time, sometimes up to a year. During this analysis, all various components and modules of the software are tested through external processes to realize real-world, business functions.
User interface examination allows users to navigate through the system’s UI and test all functionality and requirements. This is vital to ensuring no buggy software or bulky interface functions inhibit users from maximizing their usage of the application.
Regression assessment is an essential part of the QA process. Regression checks the system to ensure any previous changes to code have not damaged the functionality of the overall platform. The system is tested to ensure all previous changes are still intact and that it still responds as expected.
Boundary testing assures the application will handle users and values outside of the predetermined system levels. This is done to test how the software reacts under maximum and minimal usage numbers.
Database integrity test ensures the accuracy and retrievability of data stored in the system and checks functionality across the application for all users.
Performance testing includes load, volume, stress and soak validation. This verifies the behaviors of dedicated transactions under expected workloads as well as test worst-case-scenario loads on the system. They are designed to push the system to different levels of usage and see how it responds.
Security assessment is done to ensure the system passes all application level security standards. This includes confirming only appropriate users are able to access certain parts of the systems. It also checks the security of the data on the back end.
A failure and recovery examination is performed to verify recovery processes in the software, either manual or automated, is correct. It is paramount to ensure that in case of a system shutdown caused by a power outage or an internal complication, the system reboots properly and returns to its normal state of operation.
Configuration or compatibility proofing checks the software on different devices or hardware configurations. It is necessary to certify the application has functionality across multiple software platforms.
The installation test is conducted to ensure the system application can or cannot be installed on different devices under different conditions. Normal and abnormal conditions for installations, custom installs, installs with insufficient available memory, and others are tested to see how the software responds.
If any one of the previous tests needs to be executed repeatedly, automation testing should be introduced. Automation testing is an expedited, more dependable way to validate software in most test cases. Testing all functionalities, scenarios, and workflows manually is a tedious process. Automation testing increases the speed of test execution, and reduces lead time to launch. Automation testing produces comprehensive analytical data on the performance of an application that project managers can use to increase the integrity of a software product.
While this battery of tests may seem tedious and perhaps too exhaustive to some, the best software developers understand the importance of each of these tests during the development process. For consumers, defects in software may be bothersome, but to businesses, flaws cost money. With a proper quality assurance strategy and proper testing, flaws are preventable.
Quality assurance does not cease after a product is launched. QA teams will define a process for improvements that go beyond the development stage. QA providers will help after the product is launched to ensure long term sustainability. Part of the validation QA process will often include competitive analysis, design feedback, and deployment management.