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    Quality assurance (QA) engineer – Do you need one on your project?

    22
    June
    2021
    Karol Dobrakowski
    5 minutes read
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    Did you know that every bug in a software product can be really expensive? Did you know that it costs about 30 times more to fix defects after the product is launched than it does to fix them during the design and architecture phase?"

    • If your answers were no, you've come to the right place. We're going to tell you about why software quality control is so important to your business and how it helps you save money.

    • If at least one of your answers was yes, then we have something for you. Today we're going to delve into the specifics of QA and answer the questions that bother so many entrepreneurs around the world: Is QA really important for your next project? Do you really need to hire a qualified QA engineer to make your product flawless? Would your project fail without well-established QA processes?

    Who is a quality assurance (QA) engineer?

    We always expect business owners to take QA processes seriously. But then several customers and partners approached us with the same question: do we need a QA engineer on our team? It was surprising, but reasonable: as people look for ways to cut IT engineering costs, they wonder if there's any way to do away with QA. So we analyzed frequently asked questions, looked at our own experiences, and put together a comprehensive answer to this important question.

    Introduction to QA

    QA stands for quality assurance and is a component of the software development cycle. QA engineers examine the core of the product, its structure and features to identify every little thing that does not meet the requirements and expectations. In short, quality assurance engineers look for bugs, or "bugs," in applications.

    The key thing that must be mentioned when describing a quality assurance specialist is that this person must think outside the box. The QA specialist's goal is not to break the solution and show the developers their mistakes. No: the QA team works hard to expose potential weaknesses in the product and helps the entire team deliver a truly great solution.

    KEY RESPONSIBILITIES OF A QA EXPERT

    A better understanding of this topic is impossible without knowing what QA entails:

    Fulfillment of requirements

    Before starting the process of developing an application, this specialist creates a detailed documentation about what functionalities and features your application must have. Besides, he develops a clear vision of the design and specifics of the front-end.

    Designing Test Documentation

    Documentation is key. The QA specialist develops a flowchart of the application's functionality and plans a step-by-step test of each feature. This complements the previous point: test documentation helps make sure your application looks and works exactly the way you want it to.

    Finding and reporting bugs

    Even the most experienced developers make mistakes. In some cases, a well thought out piece of code works in unexpected ways. A responsible professional finds errors and reports them to developers and managers. In addition, they develop a strategy to pressure the system to expose its weaknesses.

    In many cases, the QA specialist helps build a more user-centric and intuitive UX, improve the UI, and confirm that the solution is ready for production.

    TEST TYPES

    A QA engineer deals with a variety of tests. Here are five of the most common:

    Smoke test

    This is a quick and easy way to test the basic functionality of an application. When is the best time to implement it? This is useful when a new build has just been made or a critical defect has been fixed and the need arises to check that everything is working well.

    Functional test

    As the name suggests, this test helps to ensure that the functionality has been developed in strict accordance with the documentation. This type of test focuses on the result without considering intermediate states.

    Integration test

    This type of test helps ensure that the various components and modules of your software system work together properly. It can be incorporated into your processes after the main part of the functionality is up and running.

    End-to-End Test

    To implement this test, the specialist must first build a user behavior diagram. Then he has to execute each of the described steps one by one and check whether the user experience is interrupted by any problem. There are many scenarios of user actions in an application, and each of them requires the construction of a special comprehensive test.

    Performance test

    It is not enough to say that your application can handle heavy loads. It is important to test the truth. This is where performance tests are helpful. These include measuring response times when making a huge number of requests and observing how the large amount of data affects the entire system.

    KEY STEPS IN THE QA LIFE CYCLE

    Let's shed some light on the QA life cycle in your software development project. But first, you need to remember one important fact. Development and testing must be done simultaneously. This means that you can't create a completely new application from scratch and then go back to testing and QA procedures. As we mentioned at the very beginning of this article, this will lead to huge expenses.

    Documentation Review

    To build a foundation for quality assurance processes, detailed documentation is needed. The quality assurance specialist reviews the project and its requirements and makes sure that the techniques described are clear and that all functions can be properly tested.

    In some cases, the QA specialist requests additional details about the project. Besides, at this stage, the team decides on project and defect management tools such as Jira, Redmine, Trello, etc. The right set of tools will help the entire team keep their finger on the pulse.

    Designing test plans and test cases

    In this step, the QA engineer creates a plan of steps that should be performed to test each function or piece of code. Each step must be described in detail, and the expected outcome of each action must be clear before the process begins.

    Conducting test cases

    In the few lines above, we have introduced the most common types of tests used in QA software. At this stage, the QA specialist transforms theory into practice. He carefully follows the steps of each test plan, checks the functionality, modules and features, system behavior under heavy load, security level, etc. Another important thing is to verify that the software component looks and works well on every device (cross-platform testing) and every browser (cross-browser testing).

    Reporting problems

    The QA engineer describes each problem and defect and reports them to the rest of the team. The report includes broken links, security vulnerabilities, interface imperfections, etc. and how to find them. Every member of the team has access to this information and can start working on fixing it when the bug is reported.

    It is a useful practice to prioritize each issue so that the development engineer understands which bugs to start with.

    Verification stage

    With the bug tracking system, the test engineer receives a notification when the problem is fixed. He repeats the steps from the test case or test plan to make sure everything is working properly. When no problem is found, the bug report is closed. Then the same process starts from the beginning, but focuses on a different feature.

    A QA engineer is someone who constantly focuses on the quality of your product while you devote your time and attention to your business goals.

    THREE MAIN REASONS WHY IT'S GOOD TO HAVE A QA ENGINEER IN YOUR PROJECT

    As you can see, as part of the team, this specialist performs several important tasks. However, to emphasize the importance of working with QA experts, we have put together three points that prove QA's contribution is invaluable.

    Fault finding

    In your marketing campaign, you promise users that your product is everything they were looking for. You guarantee high quality and swear that your app is the magic pill that will satisfy all their needs.

    But how can you be sure of the quality of the product you provide? Have you made sure that everything works properly? Have you anticipated all possible customer actions to ensure that nothing breaks? Quality assurance is not easy, and someone qualified needs to take care of it.

    Preventing problems

    Let's say you have created a nice application without QA help. Let's say this app even meets the App Store requirements, and you expect it to bring money right into your pocket. But your first users immediately find a bug. A week goes by, and another bug pops up. Day after day, your support team tries to explain to users how to deal with this or that problem. The support team doesn't know how to help users; users are annoyed by the poor quality of the solution they spent money on. Users keep reporting bugs, yelling at the support team, and sharing their opinions about your project for all to see.

    As a result, they will eventually delete your app and never trust your products again. By trusting their feedback, many other users will abandon the idea of trying your solutions. This is how companies die.

    How can you prevent this from happening? The answer is simple: a QA engineer can help you avoid negative reviews, lost sales, and failure.

    Reputation preservation

    Your product is the face of your company. Its quality is proof to any user that they can trust it, and it's one of the main things that will help you beat the competition. Don't miss your chance to prove your reliability by trying to save money on QA.

    TWO QUESTIONS THAT MAY STILL CONCERN YOU

    Still haven't found what you're looking for? Here are the answers to the two most common questions:

    Can a software engineer do QA work?

    A software engineer creates functionality according to requirements. Any skilled professional is confident in the quality of the code they write; besides, a programmer knows for sure what a particular piece of code is responsible for. However, software developers cannot look at their own products from a fresh perspective. They can perform unit tests, but that is not enough. So no, a software engineer cannot replace a QA engineer.

    When does my project not need QA at all?

    If we're talking about an internal system that doesn't really matter, or a pet project, you don't need a QA specialist. But if you're planning to set the market on fire with your innovative idea, you need a specialist to check the implementation of that idea.

    SUMMARY

    QA is indeed crucial. A QA engineer is an indispensable person on your team. While it may seem less than necessary, it's better to trust the facts and protect your business from pitfalls by working with a reliable QA expert.

    Do you still have doubts, questions or concerns? Let us know and we'll help you figure it all out!