QA, or Quality Assurance is a mandatory role in tech companies. It’s also often an entry-level position for many aspiring professionals from dev ops to data analysts. You could say that QA testers and engineers are the front-line defense between you and potential errors and poor performance experiences for your users.
But what are the limits of Quality Assurance? Is this role strictly for debugging new features? As with many roles, the purpose of QA is expanding and transforming. Here are our top insights on this secret industry weapon.
QA exists in many industries and each has its own criteria for testing. In healthcare, medical QA processes are hyper monitored and regulated, in tech they rely a bit more on independent investigation to hunt down bugs with slightly less protocol and supervision.
QA in IT, ECommerce, or SaaS models (to name a few) began with the intention of managing the cost of moving software from staging to production. Largely, QA is a component of product acceleration, and it has its own culture.
QA – especially in remote teams – goes beyond following a checklist, often it has a feeling of guardianship…or possibly constant cleaning – think of those remora fish that cling to sharks and keep them clean. QA is an active state of review that benefits the shark (or feature) and the fish (or Quality Assurance engineer). The product gets tested and cleaned and in turn the QA process provides nourishment for the company by ensuring success. Ok, we’re done with the shark analogies.
These are the primary (and universal) elements of the QA process:
1. Confirm requirements
This first one is deceptively simple. If you do not have first-hand experience with QA this may seem like a given, but it isn’t protocol everywhere to have the dev team submit QA requirements and it needs to be. This is what sets up your Quality Assurance team to plan their testing around dev criteria.
2. Plan your testing
Especially with large software releases there are many aspects to test. So it’s important to map out your approach. How many user permissions do you need to test from? Are there affected features that also need to be QAd as part of the release? Think about how the product will be used and accessed.
3. Develop your test cases and reasoning
Now think about specific use cases and edge cases, diving into your company support tickets is a good place to start if it influences a new feature or update . Formulate 2-3 different scenarios that you think your users might go through.
TECKpert Tip: Look at the systems that have the most touches before you move on to lesser utilized use cases.
4. Set up your environment
Create any testing accounts you need, check that you don’t need to enable any settings or features. Communicate with your dev team on the different things you might need.
Now that you’ve got your test plan and your environment set up, commence testing!
With Quality Assurance, once is never enough – test each pathway multiple times to ensure the experience will be consistent and correct for your users.
The key to QA is being able to validate and recreate what you’ve fixed. Screenshots, screen recordings, and clear notations are your best friend. This also brings up full-circle back to our first point. Not all teams have a QA documentation process in place, so make sure you’re aligned on your testing tools and recording platforms.
We’ve talked a lot about product, but we must also talk about culture. Your greater team benefits from Quality Assurance efforts as well participating in QA efforts.
Let’s take marketing as an example. Any campaign that goes out should get a copy review, that’s a form of QA – but there’s a lot more involved in a campaign than copy – from generating the correct mailing list from your clients, to ensuring any corresponding media is formatted correctly, to reviewing launch plans and timing.
There are a zillion places where QA can be used as an enhancement, and it’s also beneficial as a learning tool to have your more non-technical team participate in larger QAs as a second pair of eyes – they may be closer to your target user in terms of experience. A broad QA approach in addition to a specialized QA team gives you a greater chance of success.
Quality Assurance takes a lot of time, and people with technical knowledge. It can be hard to find full-time employees for QA as it is often thought of as either an entry-level bridge to development roles, or a highly specialized role to fill.
Agile QA teams can be a creative and effective solution with the added benefit of getting a fresh pair of eyes devoted to your product. At TECKpert, we specialize in sourcing talented and qualified individuals with the broad perspective and industry knowledge needed for a variety of roles. Reach out to us today to see how we can help or if you are ready to join our team.