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Top 8 QA Best Practices: Bring Your Quality Assurance to a New Level

Do you know how to make your QA process mature?

Top 8 QA Best Practices Bring Your Quality Assurance to a New Level

When it comes to QA best practices, you shouldn’t think twice. Indeed, it’ll bring a difference to all your processes, and your customers will assess it.

Do you find the quality of your project perfect? I hope you do. But if not, luckily, the software development world came up with a professional field, the primary aim of which is to ensure that your project quality is impeccable.

Quality Assurance is integral to your success. However, the QA process has to be set up correctly to work its magic, and here’s where software QA best practices come into play.

Understand Quality Assurance Basics

Let’s have a look at the fundamentals of Quality Assurance:

  1. What is QA?
  2. When and how is QA performed?
  3. What is QA documentation?
  4. What are the types of QA?

1. Definition

Quality Assurance is the process of testing a software product to spot bugs and opportunities for improvement. Testers check the compliance of the software with business requirements, security standards, and technical specifications. They ensure that the software functions correctly and that each part is perfect.

2. QA Process

QA practice usually goes hand-in-hand with the development process. Developers submit their latest changes for testing. Testers check if these changes are implemented correctly and with no errors, and if some issues occur, they report these to developers and the Project Manager.

The process of software testing goes through a life cycle. This life cycle consists of six stages:

  • requirement analysis,
  • test planning,
  • test case design,
  • test environment setup,
  • test execution,
  • test closure.

Each stage has entry and exit criteria, associated methods, tools, and goals. Smooth and well-planned quality assurance methods are crucial to software success.

Would you like to learn more about the life cycle of QA process?

Have a look at my recent article “Software Testing Life Cycle: The Circle Of Life”. You will enjoy “The Lion King” metaphor!

Alex Pletnov Tania Matviiok Project Manager

3. Documentation

Each stage of the software testing life cycle is documented. The most popular test case management tools are TestRail, TestLink, and Qase. They manage and track the software testing efforts and organize work. Consider the fact that effective planning entails the creation of quality test plans for any project.

The QA team writes test plans, test cases, and defect reports. Each of these documents has a predefined structure and a set of requirements to be compiled and managed successfully. While modern Agile methodologies compromise the importance of documentation for the sake of working software, comprehensive QA documentation remains vital.

4. Types of QA

There are many more types of QA testing best practices, but not all of them are performed by QA specialists. Some testing types as unit testing, are performed by developers. Others, such as UI/UX testing, are performed by designers. The testing types also differ by their purpose, methodology, level of automation, and level of planning. You can learn more about it in our recent article on types of testing. 

Make Your QA Process Mature, Not Basic

The maturity of the QA process is one of the standards that each company should strive for. There is a CMMI model in software development, which stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration. This model was later borrowed by QA professionals and implemented with some adjustments to the QA field. This model is now called TMMI — Test Maturity Model Integration.

Make Your QA Process Mature, Not Basic

There are five levels of the QA process maturity:

  • Level 1: Initial. QA processes of this level are very young, poorly managed, and unpredictable. It’s common in newly formed QA procedures, but it can also happen in companies that have been using QA for a long time. There is nothing good about it.
  • Level 2: Managed. At this level, the basics of the QA process are established, particularly test planning, design, execution, and monitoring processes. Test environments are also in place. Yet, the QA process remains reactive.
  • Level 3: Defined. The QA process is integrated into the development process from its beginning. The test training program is also in place. As a result, the procedures are well-organized and proactive.
  • Level 4: Measured. At this level, the QA processes are measured and well-controlled. Measurements and reviews are conducted regularly and at each project development stage.
  • Level 5: Optimizing. This level is all about process improvement. All activities, tools, and methods are assessed and analyzed to be optimized later.

Quality assurance best practices to keep in mind

QA best practices may be of different shapes and sizes. By considering such factors as resources, tools, and competence of the QA team, every company chooses and adopts its practices for software testing. Moreover, since every project is unique, different cases require different demanding standards.

At KeenEthics, we’ve listed eight quality assurance best practices to help you achieve QA maturity. The order of these QA practices shouldn’t define the importance — each of these steps and measures is equally crucial.

Quality assurance best practices to keep in mind

#1 Develop a clear-cut plan

As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said,

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

If you want your project to succeed, you should plan every tiny bit of it, and software testing is one of those. That’s why thorough planning is one of the essential QA testing best practices.

The test plan includes:

  • risks and assumptions,
  • testing scope,
  • approaches and testing types,
  • high level of test cases,
  • environments covered,
  • traceability matrix,
  • estimates,
  • test-design techniques, etc.

Prepare a test plan, including information on what and by whom will be tested, needed resources, deadline, acceptance criteria, and the current status. Ensure that all QA team members are aware of their responsibilities, invited to all the necessary team meetings, and provided with all needed resources. QA specialists should fully understand project requirements and align testing and project timelines.


 Let me present you with a detailed test plan outlining the testing process with the following steps:

  • Step 1: Develop the test plan 

Forming a testing plan will follow the same pattern as any other software planning process. Its structure should be the same, but the content will vary, supported by the degree of risk testers perceive as related to software being developed.

  • Step 2: Test software requirements

Incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent requirements cause most software failures. The inability to get requirements right during the requirements gathering phase can significantly increase the implementation cost. Testers, through verification, must determine that conditions are accurate and complete and don’t conflict with another.

  • Step 3: Test software design 

This step tests both external and internal design primarily through verification techniques. The testers are concerned that planning will achieve the objectives of wants because the design is effective and efficient on designated hardware.

  • Step 4: Build phase testing 

The method chosen to build software from internal design documents will determine the type and extensiveness of testers needed. As the construction becomes more automated, less testing is required during this phase. However, if the software is made using the waterfall process, it’s subject to error and will be verified. Experience has shown that it’s significantly cheaper to spot defects during the development phase than through dynamic testing during the test execution step.

  • Step 5: Acceptance test 

Acceptance testing enables users to gauge the applicability and usefulness of software in performing their day-to-day job functions. It tests what the user believes software should perform against what documented requirements state software should perform.

  • Step 6: Report test results 

Test reporting is a continuous process. It may be both oral and written. Defects and concerns should be reported as soon as possible to the appropriate parties to make changes at the lowest possible cost.

  • Step 7: Evaluate test effectiveness 

The most effective way to improve testing is to evaluate the effectiveness of testing at the top of every software test assignment. While testers are primarily responsible for this assessment, it should involve developers, users of the software, and quality assurance professionals.

Step 7 Evaluate test effectiveness

 

#2 Develop SMART QA goals and objectives

Accountability is integral to the success of any process which involves a team of people. To achieve accountability, you should set specific objectives and goals.

Level 4 in the TMMI model is called “Measured,” The software testing process has clear KPIs and quality metrics. Some of the software testing KPIs that you can implement are:

  • Open defects: If the number of defects exceeds a specific predetermined limit, we need to take action for development optimization.
  • Automated tests: The higher the percentage of automated tests is, the more influential the software testing process will be.
  • Code coverage: You should strive for a high percentage of code covered with tests.
  • Requirements coverage: All the requirements should have corresponding test cases, so you should strive for 100% of requirements coverage.
  • Serious bugs: This is the percentage of serious bugs, and the higher it is, the more attention the development process needs.

Also, you should implement SMART QA practice goals and objectives.

SMART goals stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound goals.

These goals may differ: professional — something very relevant to the software testing process — and personal — something less related but equally important for the team. 

An example of a professional SMART goal is: “Each month, at least 50 percent of conducted tests should be automated.”

Meanwhile, here is an example of a personal SMART goal: “Each software tester should take two online training courses per year.”

Both goals are:

  • specific (neither is open to more than one interpretation),
  • measurable (fifty percent of tests and two courses are easy to count),
  • attainable (you can reach both goals without any extreme effort),
  • relevant (both goals will benefit the QA process),
  • time-bound (per month and year, there are specific time requirements).

#3 Employ a multi-directional testing strategy

Using the diversity of QA types is one of the most obvious but often neglected Quality Assurance practices. Don’t limit yourself to one or two types of testing. Perform multiple types of testing to identify different kinds of bugs on time.

In particular, encourage your developers to write automated unit tests to check code quality and fix errors before submitting it to QAs for testing. After that, ask the QA team to perform smoke testing to ensure that the code is OK to be tested and send it back to developers to retest. When testing the software, ask the QAs to go through it manually to see if there are any bugs from a user’s perspective. After implementing changes, ask the QA team to perform regression testing to ensure that no older functionality has been broken. Before showing the product to all stakeholders, the team should conduct acceptance testing to ensure that the product fully complies with business requirements.

These are only a few types of software testing. There are many more!

Do the terms “unit testing”, “integration testing”, “system testing”, “acceptance testing” confuse you?

Look through my recent article “How to Find Your Way Around Different Types of Software Testing?” to find out more about these and other software testing types and life cycle models in software testing.

Alex Pletnov Oleg Romanyuk Head of Inbound Marketing

#4 Conduct external quality reviews

Getting a second opinion and a fresh pair of eyes is particularly helpful in software development.

As a project manager, product owner, team lead, or business owner, invite a professional from outside who will review your software code and perform a technical assessment of it. This professional should compile a report where they will highlight the good and the bad about such characteristics as:

  • tech stack, 
  • code structure, 
  • code styling, 
  • code duplication, 
  • documentation, 
  • dependencies, 
  • size, 
  • speed. 

They should leave some general overview and recommendations, which the team can consider to improve their performance. While such a measure primarily aims at software developers, QAs will benefit immensely. After all, developers and testers pursue the same purpose — high-quality code.

Be careful about the tone of this quality review, however. You certainly have to show the report to the team, but make sure that the report’s manner is friendly and constructive. This review aims to encourage the team to change the practice for the better but not discourage members from working with you.

#5 Maintain thorough documentation

I’ve already emphasized the importance of thorough QA documentation in the previous section, but I can’t stress it enough.

Bug reports are always well prioritized, allowing us to solve the most important ones quickly. They include clear steps to reproduce, actual and expected results, environments, etc. It makes the bug fixing process clear and straightforward.

All bugs should be documented and reported for the developers not to miss any. Documentation also helps in further stages of the project. If a bug previously discovered and fixed reoccurs, this information will enable developers to fix the bug faster this time because they’ll know what to do. Also, documentation helps testers — it proves that they perform their duties diligently.

The most popular bug-tracking system is Jira. A bug-tracking system’s main benefit is providing a clear centralized overview of development requests (including bugs and improvements; the boundary is often fuzzy) and their state. The prioritized list of pending items (often called backlog) provides valuable input when defining the product road map, or maybe just “the next release.”

However, more important than just documentation is high-quality documentation. If testers report the bugs unclearly, the developers and project managers will spend more time clarifying the bug than fixing it. To achieve clarity, testers should use media files: screenshots, video grabs, audio files, or whatever illustrates the bug best. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. It might be easier for a developer to have a single glance at the image and see the bug rather than read through long incomprehensible sentences of description.

In a corporate environment, we can use a bug-tracking system to generate reports on the productivity of programmers at fixing bugs. However, this may sometimes yield inaccurate results because different bugs may have different levels of severity and complexity. The severity of a bug may not be directly related to the complexity of fixing the bug.

There may be different opinions among the managers and architects. The correct classification of defects according to severity significantly affects their further life cycle and the entire development/testing process. Also, testers should include information about the environment where a bug occurs. They should indicate which OS, browser, device, or software version was used when the bug occurred. The more details are provided about the software and the hardware, the easier it’ll be for developers to reproduce the bug.

#6 Maintain a healthy atmosphere in the team

This section is the most obvious and challenging to explain, among other Quality Assurance best practices and methodologies. A hypothesis is that a harmonious and healthy atmosphere is critical to project success.

Imagine that you build a house but are in a conflict with your team. One person can hardly make a house independently — there are too many heavy things to carry, lift, and hold. The same goes for software development — the entire project is rarely designed, built, tested, and managed by a single person. So, the QA process and methodologies are doomed if your developers can’t find a common language with testers.

To maintain a healthy atmosphere in the team, carry out regular teambuilding activities. You can meet with the team face-to-face to have lunch together or play in an escape room. If there are still quarantine limitations in your country, you can conduct team buildings online — you can have lunch together via Zoom or play online games.

Retrospectives are another important measure that will help you maintain balance in the team. Please, conduct retrospectives weekly or monthly and let the group speak out their concerns. By voicing the issues when they only appear, you prevent them from turning into severe and unsolvable problems.

Finally, don’t forget to remind your team members that they’re loved, valued, and appreciated.

Our tip:

  1. If somebody deserves public praise, go for it.
  2. If somebody wants to talk honestly with you, listen to them.
  3. If you make a mistake, apologize.

By being open, friendly, and empathetic, you set the example of how the people in your team should behave.

#7 Don’t underestimate errors

Small errors are still errors. While it’s easier to brush off minor bugs, experienced developers don’t do so. They know that once a little bug can someday turn into a serious quality issue. You don’t know the exact reasons behind a bug until you investigate them. The bug can be a superficial symptom of a more severe problem. 

There are two solutions: either to fix the bug as soon as possible or to put it aside to the technical debt. The first case is possible if you employ an agile and time & material approach to project development. The second case is OK for projects of any kind, but remember that the larger the technical debt is, the more difficult it will be to prevent.

#8 Keep learning

The QA field is developing continuously along with the entire IT industry. The knowledge obtained five years ago may be useless today because technologies, approaches, QA processes, and methodologies evolve and change.

You have to learn continuously; the easiest and most effective way is to take online courses. Check out Udemy, Codeacademy, Coursera, edX, or QA. Find both appealing and affordable classes and embark on this learning journey.

Besides training courses, subscribe to informative blogs and social media profiles of people you consider to be leaders in the industry. For example, have you heard about Jason Barile or Steve Carlson? Follow them or other QA professionals you admire on LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, or other social/professional networks you prefer. I recommend you follow a few more Twitter accounts: Mindful QA, TestCorpTraining, QA Minds Europe, and Software Testing Weekly.

Finally, it would be best if you kept an eye on QA job offers. You can see how the job requirements evolve, how the most popular technologies change, and what is the overall situation in the job market.

This section looks like it has been written exclusively for software testers, not for people who hire them. However, it’s also crucial for business owners to hold on to these QA methodologies and best practices to keep their finger on the industry pulse. They must know what other companies expect from QA specialists and what they offer them and be able to tell apart experts from amateurs. 


Why hire a team that follows software QA best practices?

Before answering the question, let’s split it down into several sub-questions:

  1. What is a dedicated QA team following QA best practices, and what can they offer you?
  2. When it’s time to hire a QA team? What are the hints?
  3. How can you find the best of the best QA following QA practices?
  1. What is a dedicated QA team following QA best practices, and what can they offer you?

Quality assurance best practices are necessary for all types of production, including software development. It enables you to prevent bugs, manage all critical issues, and ensure the best quality of the product. Software QA best practices can help you omit similar scenarios like displeasing your clients, damaging your and your business’s reputation, or redoing the project. 

Besides, hiring a dedicated team that knows how to apply and which QA methods can bring your business many benefits, including lower development costs, faster time-to-market, and stronger customer loyalty. These are only some reasons that should attract you to hire experienced QA experts — got you interested? You can reach out to our top QA specialists, and we’ll advise you on making the quality assurance process smooth, predictable, and controllable.

  1. When it’s time to hire a QA team? What are the hints?
When it’s time to hire a QA team What are the hints

To determine whether you require software testing services, we recommend that you answer the following questions:

  • Do you have QA specialists in-house? Running the software development process in-house isn’t the most cost-effective tactic for your company. A far better strategy is hiring a dedicated QA expert staff that can readily integrate essential enhancements into existing processes.
  • Do you want to reduce expenses? Hiring a quality assurance team allows you to save money and avoid taking on extra responsibilities in some areas. In particular, you can significantly save on the development budget and still access top-notch programming and QA experience. 
  • Is your software slightly buggy? Although bugs and other errors are inevitable, they can lead to client unhappiness when they become serious. Because user experience is so important, rely on excellent testers. 
  • Maybe you have QA testers, but they are backlogged or overworked?

When QA can’t keep up with the developer’s production or is required to work overtime, engage an additional QA specialist. It’s high time to think about this issue when developers write more code than QAs can thoroughly test in a reasonable amount of time. Hiring a new QA tester can help your QA team not drown in the test cases’ sea.

  • Attention! When your team asks you to hire more testers.

In this case, I’d like to express my gratitude to your QA tester, who isn’t afraid to tell you about the need for a new hire.

Aren’t these good pointers to understand if you require a new tester? Or maybe none of these questions appeal to you? You can either leave us a message in the box or call us. KeenEthics is constantly in touch.

  1. How can you find the best of the best QAs following QA practices?

Try these simple procedures before hiring a qualified QA specialist:

  • Please make a list of requirements and write them down

Before hiring a dedicated QA team, you need to decide on the skills they should possess and what practices they should follow. Software testing can be done in various ways, including manual and automated approaches. Some companies employ a mix of these approaches. As a result, you should base your requirements on the project’s current state to better understand your demands.

  • Decide on the size of the project team

Based on the previous point, you should decide how many QA engineers should be involved in the team. It would be best to count many factors like the ability to test software efficiently, manage projects, meet deadlines, collaborate, etc. It will vastly improve the testing environment and allow you to save time on other critical tasks.

  • Get in touch with a QA provider

Finally, contact a  reputable QA company that can provide you with the appropriate specialist in their domain. Alternatively, you can partner with KeenEthics and check if we can meet your demands best.

What is the competence of KeenEthics’ staff in QA practice? 

The testing process in KeenEthics involves activities aimed at ensuring the excellent quality of any product being developed. This well-defined and transparent process allows detecting and solving technical issues in the software, assessing overall product quality, usability, performance, security, compatibility, and all other required aspects.

Our team verifies the quality of any product from the very beginning until successful implementation. The Quality Assurance specialists participate in the SDLC process from the requirements creation to release on production. We implement design and testing on all required levels: unit testing (executed by the developers), integration testing, system testing, release testing, acceptance testing, etc. We run testing processes that are well planned, defined, and documented. 

Effective planning entails the creation of quality test plans for any project. Above, we outline the issues of our test plan ranging from risks and assumptions, testing scope, environments covered, estimates to test-design techniques, etc. Also, our testing documentation includes checklists, test cases, and use cases. We use TestLink to manage and track our software testing efforts and organize the work of our QA department.

Before each release to production, QA engineers perform full testing for all new features and required regression testing. We always include automation for regression when our estimations show its value in terms of investments vs. savings for resources number, time spent, and quality level).

With bug reports, we quickly solve the most critical errors; therefore, they’re always well prioritized. Bug reports include clear steps making the process clear and simple. In automation, we use Puppeteer and Cypress. Autotests are created by QA and developers as well.

Overall we can guarantee our Quality Assurance best practices are well defined, mature, and flexible enough to ensure high product quality for all our clients.

The Main Ideas of The Article

Let’s recall the issues we examine in the article:

  1. The fundamentals of Quality Assurance and five levels of the QA process maturity.
  1. The Quality assurance best practices to keep in mind:
  • develop a clear-cut plan;
  • set SMART QA goals and objectives;
  • employ a multi-directional testing strategy;
  • conduct external quality reviews;
  • maintain thorough documentation;
  • maintain a healthy atmosphere in the team;
  • don’t underestimate errors;
  • keep learning.
  1. Response to why you should hire a team that follows software QA best practices. Here are three sub-questions to consider: 
  • What is a dedicated QA team following QA best practices, and what can they offer you?
  • When it’s time to hire a QA team? What are the hints?
  • How can you find the best of the best QA experts following QA practices?

Final Remarks

QA practice in software development is critical because your reputation and expenses depend on it. Technically-lame software products lead to high costs, and the later you discover bugs, the more costly it’s to fix. For this reason, it’s far better to set quality assurance as one of the core priorities.

As a software company, we deliver high-quality QA services to many clients. Our quality assurance engineers employ best practices, methods, and cutting-edge technologies to enhance operational processes and meet clients’ needs. Consider incorporating Quality Assurance into software development if you want your company to take the leading position in IT and improve its quality. Hire our specialists, and we can help you significantly influence your business’s economic performance.

Do you need help with Quality Assurance?

Let our professional QA team help you solve your software issues. Learn more about development and software testing services that we offer.

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