5 Things to Look for in a Software Quality Assurance (QA) Team
When launching new software, you want to be confident in the quality of the final product. However, with so many hands in the development process, from programmers and designers to project managers, it can be hard for any one person to assess the software in an objective, unbiased way. This is where the Quality Assurance (QA) team steps in, and the input they provide can drastically improve the quality of your software product.
What is Software QA?
Software QA is the process of making sure a software product meets and complies with the quality standards set by an organization, industry, or global certification body. The main goal of QA is to confirm that every aspect of the software, from reliability and security to performance and maintainability, does what it is intended to do and meets a set of predefined standards.
Many software and systems engineering standards are created and issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as well as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). This means that any new software product launched by an organization must adhere to the same global standards, regardless of the type, size, or nature of the software.
One such example of an ISO/IEC standard is 27001:2013, which “… specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system within the context of an organization,” according to the ISO. It also includes requirements for the assessment and treatment of information security risks tailored to the needs of the organization.
Why is Software QA Important?
Software QA ensures that a new software product is developed and launched in a way that complies with a well-defined and effective global framework. It enables an organization to follow a set list of principles and good practices. Together, these guidelines help increase the quality of an organization’s processes, as well as the quality of their products and services.
By following these principles and practices, the organization creating the software is more likely to release a higher quality product, while the customer gets the assurance that the software is safe, functional, and reliable.
What to Look for in a Software QA Team
Global standards are a great way to guarantee the release of high-quality software. But such standards mean little if the people creating the software don’t follow them. This is why choosing the right QA team is so important, as you need people who possess strong technical expertise, communication skills, and a deep understanding of the latest global standards. Here is what to look for in a QA team.
Relevant Education and Qualifications
According to the American employment website, Glassdoor, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in software design, engineering, or computer science is a good foundation for a QA engineer position. With this experience, up-and-coming QA engineers can develop and refine their technical skills, understanding of different software development lifecycles, programming languages, and QA testing environments.
While QA engineers do not need to be proficient in programming to do manual testing, they must be able to write code to automate test cases and testing steps. Automated testing has become one of the most desirable skills in the QA sector, as it helps save time on manual testing, allows for more frequent repetitive testing, and improves the accuracy of bug reports.
Strong Communication and Collaboration Skills
QA engineers often need to communicate with many different creative professionals via email, message boards, video meetings, and in-person. Therefore, having strong verbal and written communication skills is essential, as they need to clearly express the quality expectations of a software product to the development team. They are also often required to break down technical concepts into plain, simple, and easy-to-understand language, especially when conversing with non-technical staff.
On top of this, QA engineers have the - at times challenging - task of telling other professionals their work is not up to standard. This part of the job can be tough, as they must critique the work of people who sink a lot of time, effort, energy, and emotion into their craft. As a result of this potential conflict, good QA engineers can communicate in a caring, friendly, and empathetic manner. Yet, at the same time, they are confident enough to stand by their feedback.
Attention to Detail, Curiosity, and Thoroughness
When analyzing software, QA engineers must approach a product with a curious mindset. They should do more than just spot obvious bugs, errors, crashes, and user experience issues. They should go beyond the standard testing approaches and dig deeper to evaluate the different features of the software from different perspectives.
Other attributes such as discipline, analytical thinking, thoroughness, and accuracy are also incredibly desirable traits. These kinds of attributes demonstrate a QA engineer’s ability to pay attention to the finest details, identify discrete patterns and trends that may highlight bigger issues, and take the time to understand a problem and work at it until they can find a solution. Good QA engineers don’t just stick to methods and approaches they have read in official documentation, either. Experimentation and thinking outside the box are crucial to revealing new insights.
By adopting a curious mindset, a good QA engineer may be able to reveal previously unforeseen bugs and issues, which they can then report back to the software development team. Even something highly innocuous, such as a hidden button accidentally left in by a developer, can cause a software application to crash. Therefore, good QA engineers will note any details that are relevant to the overall quality of the software.
Access to the Latest Software Testing Tools
Over the years, software testing tools have evolved at a rapid pace. Automation has become a standard feature, as it enables QA engineers to execute all kinds of functional and regression tests. Automation also reduces the need to perform repetitive manual tasks, makes it easier to recreate specific bugs, and improves the level of detail and accuracy of the QA reports. So, naturally, QA engineers with proficiency in multiple testing tools, are of tremendous value to a software development project.
There are many kinds of software testing tools out there, each with its own unique benefits and use-case scenarios. Some of the most popular testing tools include Testim, an automated testing platform for fast authoring of AI-powered stable tests; Autify, a codeless testing automation platform with an intuitive UI, and; Testsigma, an open-source test automation platform for web and mobile apps.
For this reason, hire QA engineers who know how to use testing tools that relate to your project. For example, if you are building a mobile app, then a QA engineer with experience using tools like Kobiton or Katalon will be of value to you.
Deep Understanding of the User Experience
A key component of software testing is getting into the mindset of the user. By being able to anticipate the needs, wants, concerns, and expectations of the end user, a QA engineer can more easily enter the mindset of the user and determine whether the software satisfies their needs or not.
This enables the QA engineer to test for a variety of components. How long does it take for the software to load a new page or tab? Are the menu buttons easy to find and interact with? And does each feature or function help the end user achieve a desired action?
By asking these questions, the software QA engineer can determine whether the software provides a positive user experience, and if not, investigate what can be done to make the experience more engaging and intuitive.
Hire the Right QA Teams for Your Project
When looking for quality assurance teams, you need to choose people who understand your needs. They should be more than highly qualified and technically proficient in their field, but also possess strong communication, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills. By finding QA engineers who possess these traits, you are more likely to develop and launch a quality software product.