Too often, testing is an afterthought, resulting in software riddled with defects. To deliver high-quality stable software, however, it’s crucial that quality assurance (QA) is a priority throughout the development lifecycle.
Neglecting testing can not only frustrate customers but also cost organizations significant time and money. By implementing QA best practices, development teams can build stability into the software process, avoid issues, and create a smooth release.
In this article, we’ll explore seven key strategies for implementing QA during the software development lifecycle that help ensure your releases are stable. Committing to these practices reduces technical debt, lowers costs, and, most importantly, creates positive customer experiences.
You should plan your approach to quality assurance from the very initial stages of software development. To do this, you should outline the testing goals, resources, responsibilities, processes, and scope for each release. For best results, interweave QA into the development methodology itself, at every step along the way.
You should ensure that you dedicate proper time for QA in the project timeline, account for various testing activities in the project budget, clearly define roles and who is responsible for specific types of testing, and document the test plans, test cases, monitoring procedures, and quality standards that are expected.
Doing this planning up front gives quality assurance the emphasis it needs during software builds. QA then becomes an ingrained part of the system rather than an afterthought.
2. Prioritizing bug fixes
Once bugs inevitably emerge, you should prioritize which fixes come first. Not all bugs have the same impact, so you should focus on fixing defects in the most used features and those with the highest severity first.
Make sure you analyze product usage metrics to pinpoint which components customers interact with most and also allocate more testing resources to highly leveraged areas. Areas seeing lower engagement may not need as rigorous QA initially.
It’s also important to classify bugs based on their potential disruption, data corruption, and security risks and resolve showstopping or dangerous bugs immediately. Bugs that only affect edge cases can potentially wait. This ensures developers tackle the most impactful defects first.
3. Continuous delivery
Continuous delivery means frequently releasing small incremental software improvements. This minimizes the changes between versions. Having fewer changes to test at once makes it easier to evaluate quality.
The goal is to get functionality to users as soon as it’s production-ready. Each update goes through automated testing to catch issues without delaying delivery. This enables identifying bugs faster and continuously improving quality.
Continuous delivery provides constant feedback to developers and allows them to course-correct on quality if features aren’t quite stable yet. This flexibility leads to greater long-term stability.
4. External quality reviews
It’s impossible for internal teams to identify every potential software quality issue themselves, which is why outside perspectives are invaluable for spotting gaps in QA coverage.
Consider having external audits, peer reviews from other teams, or even fresh internal testers validate software quality. These will bring an objective viewpoint and may uncover valuable blindspots.
Act on any suggestions these external reviewers provide to improve processes. Leverage their unbiased input to strengthen QA practices. This extra level of scrutiny further enhances the resilience of software.
5. Dedicated QA testers
While everyone on your team should constantly strive to uphold quality, dedicated QA testers play an indispensable role in the QA testing process, with their findings and ideas helping instill comprehensive stability.
QA testers meticulously verify software and vet software behavior in ways developers may not. To hire the best fit for the role, recruit testers who deeply understand software testing principles and methods, ensure access to proper test environments and tools, and keep them involved throughout development, not just at the end.
6. Regression testing
Any time code changes are made, previous functionality can potentially break. Running regression test suites proactively uncovers these emerging defects.
Regression testing repeats predefined test cases to check if existing features still operate correctly. Automated regression testing is executed whenever changes enter the codebase.
This constant regression testing provides rapid feedback on quality. Developers can address regressions before they impact users. This safety net enables fast incremental improvements while still ensuring stability.
7. Production sanity testing
Once featured, a quick round of sanity testing in the live production environment acts as the final safety check. Poke around to verify that configurations, integrations, and workflows are operating as expected.
Production sanity testing confirms that the transition to the live environment didn’t introduce surprise issues. Through this testing, engineers monitor system health metrics and logs for any hiccups, which catches severe problems immediately before many users are impacted.
By smoke testing the production, these testers can build peace of mind that critical functionality works. Combined with the earlier QA practices, this prevents disruptive post-deployment defects.
Committing to continuous quality assurance processes directly translates to stability for end users. Leveraging these best practices empowers companies to achieve smooth, reliable software releases, build resilience into applications, and boost satisfaction for customers.
What QA strategies have you found most effective during development? Consistent testing is the pathway to releasing great software. Keep quality a priority, and your software will reflect it through enhanced robustness. By cementing these practices into the development culture, organizations can deliver stable systems that customers appreciate.
Prem Khatri is VP of Operations for Chetu Inc, which he has helped become an award-winning global presence in the customized software development field. Prem has a background in software development, with expertise using C++, Java, and various Microsoft technologies, and is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).