Startups go through several stages in their lifecycle, and the luckiest make it to maturity. It is not enough to leave minimal valuable products operating as is for the growing audience. There are many options for product refinement, and one of them is setting up a QA process in software testing.
What Is QA Testing?
Quality Assurance (QA) is the process of finding defects in multiple layers of software. Basically, it is trying to make the software fail and break things to get valuable insights into its compliance with the requirements.
QA testing happens on four levels:
- Unit test: tests an individual component;
- Integration test: tests integrated components;
- System test: tests the entire system;
- Acceptance test: tests the final product’s behavior.
Tests can be functional and non-functional. Functional testing checks if the app works at all. Non-functional testing checks how the app works, including usability, reliability, and overall performance.
There are over 100 types of tests to apply to different parts of the system. The most common are sanity, regression, and performance tests (scalability, stability, and speed). Each test produces a specific set of output metrics to measure software quality.
What Is the Purpose of the QA Testing Process?
QA testing ensures that the final software meets the scope-agreed expectations of all project stakeholders and shows defect-free behavior. The expectations may include proper functionality, returns on investment, customer satisfaction, and more.
Whenever abnormalities pop up, the testing team analyzes the report and measures the risks of neglecting their timely fix. It is always a good idea to fix bugs as soon as possible because they may lead to significant monetary losses or even worse-case scenarios.
Here are examples of how companies burned their resources due to poor QA processes:
- In 2021, Tesla recalled about 12,000 vehicles because the newly-released Full-Self Driving software was falsely detecting potential threats leading to unnecessary stops.
- In 2013, American Airlines needed to land all of its aircraft due to a bug in the reservation system. Later they detected the failure in the compatibility of components written in multiple programming languages.
- In 2012, Knight Capital lost nearly $500M to a single bug, which allowed computers to buy and sell shares without human moderation.
QA Process Setup Tips
Establishing a QA process in testing may lead to total success or failure. At Upsilon, we know how to pick an optimal QA strategy based on the complexity and scale of the project. A proper discovery phase helps us foresee the pitfalls and engage the right tools timely.
So, let us share the essential tips on how to set up QA processes.
Build a QA Team and Assign Ownership
Usually, a good QA team includes manual engineers, automation engineers, technical leads, team managers, and performance engineers. The number of professionals varies for different scales and complexity of the project.
Ownership of the process is not an illusionary concept. QA processes need monitoring and optimization to deliver tangible results to support decision-making. It should be a full-time role and not a secondary priority of a random senior or middle professional.
Choose an Approach
Approaches to QA lay in different dimensions.
The first question is, who will accomplish the testing? There are options:
- In-house team;
- Outsourcing agency;
- Dedicated team.
The deciding factors are typically the funding, level of control, security, and expertise.
The second question is how to integrate testing into the workflow.
Further in the article, we will review the traditional testing approach. It is worth noting that some teams go big and choose testing as the core of their development process. A good example is the test-driven development approach.
Test-driven development (TDD) requires the generation of test cases for each functionality and a piece of code behind it. If the test fails, the team writes new code to improve simplicity and deliver defect-free components only. Unlike traditional testing, TDD treats each line of code in the software. It focuses on the easy-to-read code rather than on test cases.
There are more unconventional and technologically-advanced approaches to QA processes, but correctly set up traditional testing covers all software development needs.
Align QA with Business Goals
Like other tech positions, QA professionals need insights into product value and business goals. Communication about where the business is going on a high level will help keep everyone on the same page.
A testing team is capable of more than just checking the readability of code and software sanity. It is feasible to reveal what part software quality plays in product performance metrics.
Make QA an Ongoing Activity
Quality assurance in software testing is as dynamic as the development itself. We will hardly find any successful product in the market that has never undergone at least minor changes in scope.
Together with the rest of the company, the QA team needs to be aware of current trends in the industry, upgrades in the tech stack, latest business decisions to ensure that the regularity of tests satisfies the agility.
Automate What Can Be Automated
Automate, but automate wisely. Not every test case is worth automation. The primary signs that the test case needs automation are:
- It is repetitive and applied to many components.
- It is too resource-intensive or impossible to perform manually.
- It is prone to human error.
- It needs significant volumes of data.
The testing community offers endless ready-made solutions for automation. Before opting for the right one, a few things to consider are the tech stack, reliability, and implementation costs.
Keep Human Skills at Hand
While automated testing helps eliminate mundane and resource-intensive tasks, human interaction with the app is critical. In most cases, the customers are real people. Automated tools lack the intuitive, imaginative, and intellectual powers to make creative decisions about potential improvements.
Keep your people around for manual testing, and listen to them!
QA Testing Stages
A mature QA testing procedure is transparent and clear. Some complex projects require micro stages and approaches to treat the components, but in bare outlines, the process always follows these steps:
- Collect and assess project requirements. Both functional and non-functional requirements undergo analysis and clarification if needed.
- Prepare test cases and schedule. Creation of test documentation based on the test type and testing levels. Determination of relevant software and timing.
- Execute test cases. Running designed test cases and submission of the detected defects to a monitoring system.
- Report defects. Collection of the revealed defects and initiation of bug fixing. Verification of bug fixing.
- Execute re-tests and regression tests. Double-checking the problematic areas to ensure the accurate functioning of the software components.
- Analyze test results. Test data aggregation and analysis. Submission of deliverables and reports.
QA Testing Best Practices
Setting up a transparent and regular testing process at a startup is already a best practice. However, there are more global things to remember before doing so. Even though companies are more likely to integrate QA processes into their workflow at later stages, there are some things to keep in mind before the start of the project or at the MVP testing stage to avoid makeovers.
Analyze the Risks of Neglecting the Test
We mentioned some prominent software failure cases above to illustrate how companies lose money to a minor software bug in minutes. Needless to say that the development behind failed products might take months or even years.
Like any risk analysis in business, there are tools to perform a risk analysis for testing. A good template will include the following:
- The bugs detected.
- The probability of risk to happen.
- The final decision about the bug.
Keep the Code Healthy
It is a global recommendation suitable for any process happening in a software development project, and testing code is not an exception. Smooth testing code becomes a reusable tool, saving time and effort for the team.
Stick to the Shift-Left Approach
In software development, shift-left means allocating the process closer to the start. Traditionally, testing processes occur when a good part of the software is ready. Nowadays, more and more teams prefer to test as early as possible to get timely notification of defects.
Think of the Testable Architecture
It is tricky, as the wrong architectural decisions lead to inevitable hurdles at the later stages. Sometimes these hurdles will be impossible to tackle.
To ensure flawless testing, professionals consider the degree of isolation of components from one another. In short, building isolated components helps avoid the possibility of individual failure affecting the entire system.
Measure and Optimize Test Metrics
In a big data world, we can rely on numbers not only in our revenue calculations and web analytics but also at the software core level. Below are examples of valuable metrics that prove QA testing is quantitative enough:
- Defect rate: a share of components with defects.
- Time of repair: the average time to repair a bug.
- Cost per fix: the average cost to fix a bug.
- Net testing cost: all the costs it takes to redo new features.
Keep the Customer First
The final testing stages include the test of the release version of the product. It is a good idea to collect a focus group of stakeholders and the potential audience who will use the product for their needs.
Customers bring the final value to any project, and their word is the last!
Setup an Efficient QA Process with Upsilon
Upsilon integrates time-tested QA processes into all of our software development projects. Our team focuses on these four fundamental benefits:
- Risk elimination;
- Customer satisfaction;
- Reduced time-to-market;
- Budget control.
With a solid number of accomplished projects, we have reached a decent level of maturity in providing manual and automated software testing for startups. Our QA team only includes middle and senior experts and focuses on bug anticipation rather than detection. Besides, we know how tightly QA performance overlaps with user retention.
Companies of different sizes and tech domains have already developed their defect-free solutions with Upsilon, and we are ready to onboard more!
Final Thoughts on QA Process Flow
The later stages of the startup lifecycle (growth and establishment, expansion, maturity) are the right time to invest in quality since the idea has found a product-market fit. High-performing QA processes can reduce development costs, refine the product, optimize user engagement metrics, and even anticipate catastrophic consequences of quality gaps.
Quality assurance in software testing is quantitative. It is easy to treat testing data like companies' sales and marketing data. Well-organized data visualization reports with testing metrics will bring as much value as a customer behavior report does.
This article's tips and best practices will help start off effectively with the first QA steps for your growth-stage startup. When the basics are covered, don’t hesitate to contact us to build an individual QA strategy!