Moving from Quality Assurance toward Quality Assistance
“Prevention is better than cure”– The phrase is applicable to almost each and everything; living or non-living entities, including software development and software quality assurance.
Let’s begin with Quality Assurance:
Quality assurance, an inherited process of the software development life cycle is used to evaluate and improve the quality of the software product to fulfil the user’s needs and expectation.
Most of the software development companies have same modus operandi for developing the software products, i.e. development followed by the testing, and subsequently the product release. But, if the procedure is correct & appropriate to follow? At first instance, it might seem to be valid and relevant approach towards developing a software product as it’s an established and standard way of executing the software development project. But, actually the methodology elongates the whole development process and makes it more complex to execute. Rather, finding defects-post development through QA procedures to improve product’s quality, it would be better to ensure the quality of the product during the development phase, itself. Shift from quality assurance to quality assistance is all about that.
Quality assurance works as a gatekeeper to pass on the flawless product from organization’s door to user’s hand. QA encompasses multiple methodologies and activities including testing to ensure the product’s quality, but if it assures the quality? ….. Confused?? Let me outline the purpose of QA in software development. QA is used to verify and validate the product’s quality against the available or specified requirements and specifications, which means it restricts the scope of evaluating the product to given requirements and specifications only. If the different requirements are getting fulfilled by the product, it is meant to be acceptable for the release but may not guarantees the quality. QA engineers are just following the sheep-walk and are being compelled to accustomed approach of testing the application, keeping in account the project deadlines, cost and instructions from their seniors and managers. Without applying or implementing your vision, logical & analytic thinking, approaches, and just adhering to orthodox standards of testing the application as instructed by the managers might not fully assure the quality of the product.
A tester might be good in his/her work, but if he/she could be assured or guaranteed of quality work being performed or to be carried out by the different teams involved in the development.
So, what next; Quality assistance?
Quality Assistance…….a new term? No, but an alternative name to quality assurance with different structure and means to ensure + assure the software quality.
Quality assistance is a revolutionary approach to contribute towards the development of quality-rich software products. In quality assistance methodology, instead of being a part of QA/testing phase to evaluate the product, testers are brought into development to assist developers in building up the quality of the product.
It is pertinent to mention that a software product under development needs to be monitored, controlled and maintained since day 1 of the development in order to ensure its quality. But, how the task of monitoring, controlling and maintaining would be executed by the developer who is very much unaware of the quality domain, and only relies on the requirements and specifications to develop the intended software application. This deficiency justifies the involvement of testers in the development to help developers in gaining and maintaining the quality.
The role of a tester is to examine, explore, visualize, study, research and analyse requirements, specification and other related parameters for different quality aspects, and subsequently conveying and making developers aware of relevant and useful data and information, to come up with the quality product.
In layman language, developers will be developing and testing the software product, with the help of skills, training and knowledge imparted by the fellow testers.
Benefits of Quality Assistance:
- A proficient developer with the knowledge and understanding of quality aspects will surely add-on to the product’s superior quality and improve the efficiency of complete software development life cycle.
- A developer skilled in quality assurance will ensure the flawless product for the release, which may reduce or nullify the probability of occurrence of low-level and even mediocre defects at later stage.
- This gives testers to detect and work on high-level of defects in a much dedicated and attentive manner.
- Reduced role of testing phase will shorten the delivery or release cycle.
Challenges in Quality Assistance:
- Imparting training to developers on quality assurance could be a cumbersome task for the QA engineers.
- Although, developers may be updated with the knowledge & understand of quality assurance, still they will not be able to acquire the level of expertise, a tester would have. This may lead to missing out of or undetected critical production bugs, which may affect the whole project at a later stage.
- Lastly, shifting from existing QA process to quality assistance would be a difficult and complex task for the organization to train, manage and streamline the teams to successfully adapt and function accordingly to this new change.
Transition from Quality Assurance(QA) to Quality Assistant(QA):
*Blitz testing involves the participation of all teams to evaluate & assess the different features of the product, and provide their relevant feedbacks and review over it.
#Dogfooding technique involves the internal deployment of the product may be in a beta form to verify and validate the product’s features.
Usage of Blitz testing and dogfooding technique reflects the lack of confidence on the developer’s testing.
In nutshell, it may be inferred that unlike quality assurance process, where QA team is solely responsible for the release of quality product, quality assistance involves the engagement & contribution of each & every team towards the improved quality of the software product.