Enterprises are in need of quality products in today’s fast-paced world. Software quality assurance is the key process to ensure quality products. Wikipedia defines Software Quality Assurance (SQA) as a “Means of monitoring the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality.” SQA typically encompasses the entire software development life cycle (SDLC) which includes requirements gathering, design, coding, software testing, release management, and the final product launch. Software testing being a part of the Quality Assurance (QA) has become an important step during the SDLC. This software testing is a significant gatekeeper for businesses to determine when the code could move into the final steps of user acceptance testing (UAT) and further to production.
This QA ensures that the developed software meets and complies with the standard set of quality specifications for a given product. This sort of QA testing deals with testing the software to identify bugs or defects if any, and ensures a quality product is delivered to end-users. The QA function ensures that the product meets the requirements and ascertains the product quality is achieved.
In the earlier waterfall model, the QA testing was taken up at the end of the SDLC which led to deferred project timelines, and at times, even the quality was not properly achieved.
The QA team was more involved only in the identification of errors and bugs and retesting them to ensure a quality product is launched. Earlier, even the products were not so complex and QA testing could handle the requirements specifications and test the product.
But, in recent times, the products and applications are complex in their outlook and needed much more effort from the QA teams to ensure faster releases and at the same time maintaining software quality. Thus, there emerged a need to transform from Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering.
Why Quality Engineering?
In recent times, the process of software development has moved towards agile and DevOps processes as businesses are in need for faster releases to get to market faster. Evidently, with agile and DevOps processes on the go, the software testing process has taken a shift-left approach wherein the testing is done parallel to software development to ensure faster identification of bugs and quality releases.
The QA in the agile process tests the entire system based on the sprints to cater to software features development.
The QA teams take up software testing along with the development process, from the initial stages of DevOps process to ensure continuous integration(CI) and continuous delivery(CD) to ensure faster releases.
The DevOps CI/CD and agile development processes have changed the world of quality assurance. The QA teams have less planning time due to continuous releases during sprints and hence they struggle to accomplish regression testing on time.
Today, the QA teams are required to think more creatively and realistically than ever before. Thus, the QA has taken a shift from Quality Assurance to Quality engineering, to ensure faster releases enforced with DevOps CI/CD and agile processes.
Software quality engineering (SQE) assures high standards during a software development process and specifically holds good for agile and DevOps methodologies. Even in Quality Engineering, the key role is played by the quality engineers who create, implement and maintain systems to ensure quality processes.
Why Quality Engineering role evolved?
1. This change from QA to QE has been evident with more stress given upon automation and automated testing solutions being in place
2. With the connected and complex systems and APIs in place, testing the backend services has become complex as there is no visible UI which led to Quality Engineering emergence
3. Significantly testing moved differently from unit, smoke tests towards integration, performance, usability and security testing, requiring the QA to be involved much earlier in the software testing process
4. Today, with the products being continuously evolved as smart products and apps, QA teams don’t always have weeks to analyze requirements and create test cases in isolation and they have to think smartly on the go and rapidly develop test plans as the products evolve
Why your enterprise should transform from Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering?
1. QA team in close association with the developers and the operations (DevOps) teams ensure faster and continuous releases by enforcing test automation initiatives and shifting QA efforts towards quality assurance by distancing silos.
2. QA teams follow a shift-left approach of testing to find defects early and speed up the time to market. The shift left allows developers to fix defects more quickly and at much lower cost, speeding time to market and increasing customer satisfaction.
3. QA is involved today to think like end-users and ensure to deliver great customer experience irrespective of the industry they operate especially while testing mobile applications.
4. With the increasing complexity of mobile apps and with IoT devices in place, testers should be more informed with various real-time scenarios and should be able to find real-world defects effectively.
5. In today’s digital age, QA teams need to concentrate more on probable security risks that might arise when data is shared among systems, rather than focusing only on the security requirements of the standalone applications.
6. QA teams are also involved to implement new tools and various automated processes much early in the development lifecycle to ensure faster releases with test automation and even use test automation frameworks to achieve faster releases to deliver quality products.
All the above stated have culminated into a shift from Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering and this shift ensures integrating quality into the entire SDLC to engineer better quality. Further, this transformation has also led to a new role of SDET (Software Developer in Test) responsible to build test infrastructure, identify test scope, and define quality criteria. These SDET’s start with unit testing and extend to all other tests and should even build a mitigation strategy in case the situation demands.
They are responsible to manage and maintain CI/CD pipelines to ensure the code keeps moving through the pipeline. They work closely with all teams of developers, operations teams and the product owners. They should also have a deep eye on what should be automated and should be able to plan quickly and efficiently based on the application under test.
As a final thought, though there has been a broader role given to the QA in the agile and DevOps processes with a move towards Quality Engineering, but still they are responsible for analyzing and validating requirements, developing and executing test cases placing effective efforts on automation qa and assisting in the resolution of bugs.
Software quality assurance by the QA teams plays a key role in the SDLC to enable a quality product. Earlier, as the products and applications were relatively simpler in their outlook, the QA teams tested the products and ensured quality is maintained. But, today with agile and DevOps processes on the go and with the evolution of smarter and complex products, there has been a need for the QA automation services to evolve as QE to support smarter and quality testing. This transition from Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering assures faster releases with DevOps CI/CD processes and ensure quality is delivered to end-users.
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