Quality assurance testing is an important part of software development, particularly as projects grow in size and complexity. After all, a bug that goes unnoticed will become progressively more expensive to fix over time and could cause significant usability issues before being patched. Effective QA teams can pre-emptively find and help eliminate bugs before they reach production servers to reduce development costs and ensure an optimal user experience.
In this article, we will look at some common problems that tend to arise when implementing QA processes and how to overcome them.
1. Lack of QA Guidelines
A single software project often involves many different QA engineers. If each engineer is using a different testing style, maintaining the testing framework can quickly become a nightmare. Development guidelines help increase the readability and maintainability of testing automation suites as a project grows by defining a set of common rules and guidelines. Implementing these guidelines early on can prevent a lot of headaches as a project matures.
Some key things to consider when developing QA guidelines include:
Test Assumptions – What are some of the key assumptions that are being made? For example, is production data required prior to the start of functional testing? Who will prepare the test environment? Who signs off and reviews all test cases? Levels of Testing – What are the key levels of testing? For example, exploratory, functional, user acceptance, and other types may be needed. What are the deliverables and acceptance criteria for each of these tests and the process for completing them? Managing Issues – How are issues reported and documented? For example, is there a clear template to use for documenting a bug? Are there different levels of severity or priority that can govern when they are addressed by developers? Tools – What are the common tools used for testing? For example, is the entire team using Selenium? Are the scripts developed checked into the same repository for re-use by everyone on the team? Are there any third-party services used?
2. Testing Isn’t Built into the Process
Many companies separate QA engineers from the development team. After a feature is developed, it’s passed on to the QA team that logs any bugs into a tracker. These bugs are then addressed by the developers before the next release date. The problem with this approach is that planning each release becomes much more difficult. A feature may be poorly documented by developers and, if a bug is discovered, developers may be pulled from the current sprint.
A better approach is to bring QA and development teams together for each sprint. By having QA engineers define tests for each feature before it’s developed, everyone is on the same page and developers can focus on passing those tests. Your team can be sure that there aren’t any issues that arise that threaten to derail the sprint timeline and tight-knit communication between QA engineers and developers helps ensure that issues are resolved very quickly.
3. Lack of Standardized Testing Tools
There are thousands of different software, hardware, and subscription tools that can be helpful for QA teams. While Selenium may be the most popular framework for testing web applications, even that single framework has many different plugins and languages that can be used with it. It’s a good idea to ensure that everyone on the team is using the same set of tools to produce consistent results, while ensuring that they are the optimal tools for the job.
In addition to testing tools and languages, you may want to consider using third-party tools that make testing certain parts of an application much more efficient and effective. Mailosaur is a great example of an email testing solution that eliminates the need to set up a dedicated SMTP server for testing and enables QA engineers to use an API for testing automation. This can help save a lot of time and greatly improve the quality of test coverage.
4. Setting the Wrong Expectations
It’s tempting to assume that automated testing should run at the click of a button and ensure that no bugs make it into production. Of course, the reality isn’t so simple: Automated testing requires effort to develop and maintain, rarely runs without any failures, and will never fully replace manual testing. It can deliver solid benefits over the long-term, but everyone should be aware of the limitations and have the right expectations.
The reality is that QA testing is more about ensuring that the most widely used features are working properly than having 100% test coverage. After all, without unlimited time and resources, it would be impossible to find every single defect within a feature. Automated testing helps ensure that major features are working properly, while manual sanity tests help fill in any gaps where automated testing may not be appropriate to fully ensure everything is working.
5. Having the Wrong Reward Structure
QA engineers and software developers are often at odds with each other. When a bug is discovered by a QA engineer, a software developer may take it personally and harbor feelings of resentment. At the same time, QA engineers may feel like they need to find as many bugs as possible to justify their job. The reality is that both QA engineers and software developers are critical to the long-term success of any software application.
QA engineers should be rewarded for the quality of their work rather than the number of bugs that they identify. In other words, QA success should be tied to fewer issues in production rather than bugs reported in a bug tracker. Developers should similarly be rewarded for the quality of their work rather than solely the number of lines of code that they write. Any bugs that make it into production should be treated as a team failure rather than an individual failure.
QA engineers and software developers may also want to take part in team building exercises to promote working together rather than as opponents. For example, trading roles on occasion is a good way to help developers understand the role of QA and help QA understand development.
Quality assurance is an instrumental part of the software development process, but there are several important issues that can arise an impede progress. By addressing these issues early on, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal of delivering error-free software.