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Software Quality Assurance: Definition, Benefits, and Techniques
In the simplest of terms, Software Quality Assurance or SQA refers to a technique to ensure the right quality and standards during the development of software. Similar to other forms of quality testing procedures, Software Quality Assurance is used to keep a check on the functionality as well as the correctness of a particular software. An organization uses Software Quality Assurance to find out if the software being developed for use meets the requirements and quality standards that it seeks.
For instance, imagine a food delivery company, developing software to keep their riders/delivery persons in touch with the restaurants and the customers. It becomes necessary for this company to check the quality and functionality of the software before its launch. The areas of the software that need quality assurance can include the software’s hackability, performance, speed, GPS tracking, etc. By doing so, the purpose and aim of developing such software solutions can be fulfilled at their best.
What is Software Quality Assurance?
The International Organization of Standardization, or ISO, under its ISO/IEC 25010:2011 guidelines, defines Quality Assurance. A simplified version of it can be as follows −
“Quality Assurance relates to the outcome of a product when it will be used in a particular context. It can be done for any system including the computer system, and software products related to other computers.”
“A product quality model relates to static properties of software and dynamic properties of the computer system. The model is applicable to both computer systems and software products”.
Benefits of Software Quality Assurance
There are several benefits of employing Software Quality Assurance in an organization, such as -
Errors are costly for any organization, be they large or small. Errors require redoing of work as well as carrying an opportunity cost with them. By using Software Quality Assurance to maintain a form of check on the development of software, errors can be avoided. For instance, slow/bad software released to the public will result in disappointed customers and the need for releasing updates.
If an organization conducts simultaneous software checks during the development stage, it can release blemish-free software during the time of release. However, if no checks are maintained, the software will require reworking - that amounts to the expense of man-hours as well as other resources.
Maintains and upholds goodwill in the market
Good products always sell. Apple Inc is one of the biggest examples of this phenomenon. Apple has been far behind in terms of the release of certain features or software in comparison to Android. There’s a simple reason for that. Android chooses to release first and later work on the limitations of its software, whereas Apple follows the opposite approach. They choose to release late in order to release the best version of the same software. It results in a lower frequency of updates as well as happier consumers.
Increases safety and lowers the risk of contamination
Given the widespread and universal use of computing devices in the 21st century, the possibility of hacking and cyber security issues have gained greater importance than earlier. Bugs and performance issues are an obvious possibility when it comes to the development of software without the usage of Software Quality Assurance practices. However, much graver consequences can ensue if Software Quality Assurance practices and standards are not complied with when considering cyber security issues, and the possible consequences. For instance, all banks and financial institutions in the modern world are run by software due to the vast sizes of funds they manage, the gigantic customer base as well as having branches in different countries and continents. If a financial institution uses software having high penetrability, it is vulnerable to hacking. It can affect millions of people, and could also cause the fall of a nation. Keeping that in mind, it is important for critical infrastructure such as banks, utility companies, government institutions, and so on, to maintain a very high quality of cyber security.
Techniques of Software Quality Assurance
As the word suggests, it involves inspecting the work under progress in order to determine if the prerequisite standards have been followed or not.
In order to have multiple sets of eyes take a look at the work, different stakeholders are invited to take a look at the work and determine what changes, if any, are required.
The code forms the DNA of any software - it decides what the software will do, and how efficiently it’ll work, among other functions it performs. Therefore, an experienced person is asked to make an objective review of the code of the software, and if changes are suggested, they are accordingly incorporated.
A checklist is formulated by organizations in order to evaluate if design standards have been met. This checklist includes items such as −
General requirements and design
Structures and interfaces
Coupling and cohesion
As the name suggests, the software is put through a trial run in order to evaluate its performance.
This is a black box technique, which means to say, only one aspect of the software is considered. In functional testing, the software is tested to check what it does without paying heed to the manner of performing those tasks.
This technique ensures a certain level of uniformity in execution which in turn prevents unexpected results from showing up.
This technique involves the usage of another software, built solely for the purpose of examining and evaluating. This is particularly helpful as the human eye might miss some problems or issues.
It is similar to a business pitch. Herein the software developer presents the software with all its details and nitty-gritty to a group of people who then make suggestions and seek clarifications.
It is the opposite of Functional Testing. This white box testing technique involves a complete check of the software’s functioning, similar to how to dress rehearsals work.
This involves testing the software in extreme conditions to understand its limits and ability to bear the load.
The world-famous Six Sigma approach targets a near-perfection state, seeking to achieve 99.76% success.
Software Quality Assurance is an integral part of any organization’s development and growth, as it directly affects the performance and efficiency of its products and services. While its benefits are manifold, the biggest and most visible one is customer satisfaction. If the end consumer is not satisfied with what their return on investment is, they will not return and cannot be retained. Therefore, an organization must pay great attention to carrying out appropriate Software Quality Assurance practices while developing new software.
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