Quality Assurance — what is it and why is it important?
Quality Assurance is a procedure that ensures that a software product or service is produced with due care — it is simply good quality. This is partly achieved through software testing by QA Specialists. This is why quality assurance is often included in the colloquial term testing.
What does good quality mean? It is primarily about ensuring that the product is efficient and free from defects and errors. Testers continuously check throughout the development period whether the product or service meets the generally accepted requirements.
So why is quality assurance so important?
Quality assurance helps companies to build trust among their customers. It’s quite obvious but we have to remember that building this trust is one of the most important things in software development. If customers aren’t happy with the service and product, their feedback can damage the company's reputation and negatively impact its future.
That’s how it works. A happy client may recommend the product/service further. No one can guarantee this, but it is likely. Especially if you ask the customer to give feedback, for example. However, an unhappy customer is upset and that means they’ll tell someone else about it or write an unfavorable review. And then a lot of people can see it. For example potential customers, who won’t be willing to contact the company after what they’ve seen.
Tests are actually being conducted at every stage of the project. It’s not about checking everything at the end of the development. All to make sure that the product is built properly at all steps and to avoid overlapping problems. This is related to running projects in an Agile methodology, where testing takes place in every sprint.
Fixing errors is way easier and more efficient straight away, at the stage of development of each feature. Correcting the bugs on which the next feature was based can cause several issues and large extension of time needed to finish the project. Cost and effort increases as problems accumulate. So time for testing will always be added at each level of building a solution for you.
Building great products
So it’s not only about doing your job, making all the necessary tests and finishing the project as soon as possible. True quality is when the product meets customer’s expectations at all times. When the customer is satisfied with the final version of the product, you could say it’s fine. But I’m saying it’s not enough. Because if the client has doubts during the whole project and is scared that it will end up bad, it’s not really done right.
So quality assurance is necessary to build products which meet customers' requirements and conduct the project so that they’re satisfied at all its stages. As mentioned above, to do this properly it’s also essential to fix issues before they become large or to avoid them before they even arise. All to be able to build fit-for-purpose and high quality products. This is important especially if you want to create long-term working relationships.
Making sure of a proper-working quality assurance is also useful in terms of cost-effectiveness. Caring about quality at all phases of the product life cycle makes it possible to release the solution faster. This way, the tests won’t bring tons of errors to be fixed at the end. And as we know, reducing time means reducing costs at the same time.
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control
The main difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance is that the first one focuses on eliminating defects and errors, and the second one is about preventing errors from occurring. This is a very streamlined description. QA provides actions taken at all stages of the project and taken into the product's lifecycle. QC is simply making sure that everything is built as promised — it’s about making tests to identify defects.
So you can say that QA focuses on processes and QC is all about the product itself.
Actually, all the team members provide quality assurance. It includes all processes aiming to satisfy the customer. Quality assurance specialists pay attention particularly to quality control, so testing each part of the product. Besides, developers of course always do code review. They check the results of their work. But an additional person who looks at an issue in a completely different way is always helpful.
You can learn more about the roles in software development projects here.