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The Value Of Quality Assurance

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At the bottom line, quality assurance, or QA, should improve customer satisfaction and reduce internal operational costs while also streamlining business functionality. QA has become a crucial part of the development process which helps ensure the product you deliver is one that meets your customers’ expectations, fulfills its claims of functionality and continues to work over a reasonable period of time. QA is an invaluable part of the production process, but the value of QA is often hard to pinpoint and communicate to stakeholders in a project.

Quality assurance testers spend their day combing through software programs to determine two things: 1) does the product work as it was designed, and 2) will the customer be happy with the product (eg: will they find it easy or frustrating to use). But, when QA is utilized well, a tester will also ask, “What happens when I do this?” One of the most important facets of understanding QA is that a product might work as designed, but that does not make it a high-quality product.

QA is never going to be able to identify every bug or issue; software will never be perfect, and it is unrealistic to think it can be. It is important that decision makers and executives are aware of this, so the QA team is not set up for failure. So, if QA can’t make a product perfect, what is the value?

Considering value is considering cost, and long debated is the cost effectiveness of QA. The value of finding a defect in software before it causes any serious problems is challenging to calculate in terms of cost. According to an SDTimes article by Vu Lam, CEO and Founder of QASymphony, “The cost of fixing bugs increases dramatically after release … According to an IBM and Rockwell Automation study, the cost of fixing a bug post-release can be 100x higher than if you discover it early.” With this in mind, much of QA’s value is in their ability to understand the software well enough pre-release to determine if it is functioning as intended. However, there are more benefits to QA than just finding bugs.

Brand reputation is a major benefit of utilizing a successful QA team.  QA, for obvious reasons, has a direct impact on a how a brand is received to customers and stakeholders. A recent survey commissioned by SOASTA found that 88% of Americans form a negative opinion of the overall brand when they encounter a poorly performing website or mobile app. One reason QA is so valuable is because a tester looks at the user interface (UI) and thinks in terms of “how will the customer use this application”, something developers typically do not have the advantage of doing.

The value of QA is to find and report on the current condition of a product and to report those findings to stakeholders, so they can be fixed before production in order to deliver an exceptional product with minimal defects. In an ideal world, testing ought to be performed as exploring, not checking so that entire processes are tested, not just individual pieces of the whole. This allows QA to report on where a project stands in terms of functionality and usability.  

So, make sure you, as project leaders and mangers, are aware of the true value of QA and how to be utilize your QA analysts to ensure your products run smoothly and come out the door in the best shape possible.