Testing is an apple, QA is an apple tree

It’s that time of the project. As you slide headlong into it, you get to know the team who will test the application which the development team is working on. Testers will engage with you and with the development team to understand the technical and business requirements. The team commits to testing the application according to the test strategy, plan, test cases. Whether it’s manual or test automation, performance or security testing, frontend or backend, the testing team covers the relevant topics.

All good. But, suddenly, you notice they don’t say anything about Quality Assurance. “Why don’t they mention it?”, you think. So you ask: “How will you assure quality and bring solutions to quality issues?”. The testing team say they don’t make quality assurance; what they do is testing and, by testing, they identify if the application meets all given requirements and not more.

Why do they say they don’t make QA, but only testing?

Testing is not the solution to quality issues; testing is the solution to finding information regarding quality problems.

It seems challenging to imagine that testing is not the solution to quality issues and that testing is the solution to finding information regarding quality problems. However, there are some powerful differences between Testing and QA and in this article we’re dishing up some of them.

In this way, how is Testing different from QA?

Testing reveals valuable information, gathers quality-related information, provides business with the right information to make informed decisions.

Testing is about validating that a software application meets the business and technical requirements that guided its design and development. It is performed to see if the application is doing what it is supposed to do and to see if it is not doing what it is not supposed to do. So testing is more interested in finding where the application is broken, for the greater good.

The mix of business and technical knowledge gives the testing a unique and valuable role. A tester is constantly thinking about things that have not been tried and test parts of the software that are identified as potential weaknesses. It has a critical and a broader look at the application to find defects as fast as possible and get bugs fixed.

By finding defects and making sure bugs get fixed, the purpose of testing is to reveal valuable information, show something it is not expected, gather quality-related information about a software application, and eventually, at the business level, to provide business with the right information to make informed decisions.

While testing investigates if the application meets all given requirements and not more, quality refers to how well the application meets expectations or needs, how well it performs, and, why not, how happy are users with it.

Therefore, Quality Assurance (QA) is a planned and organized way of working to consistently meet quality standards and the defined requirements and agreements regarding quality of processes involved in producing a quality software product.

By helping define processes, create and implement methods and standards to enhance processes quality, QA can prevent defects, support the delivery of compliant, high-quality products and address any identified noncompliance issues. From a business point of view, QA can bring predictability to software products and insights regarding processes for improvement. Also, QA plays the role of a facilitator in the context of processes, identifies best practices and activates knowledge sharing at project and team level.

From a business point of view, QA can bring predictability to software products and insights regarding processes for improvement.

Now that we’ve approached Testing and QA in the context of software applications, it’s time to take a look from another angle.

Let’s take a step back from software applications and imagine an assembly line from an office chairs manufacturer.

A team is testing the chair height adjustment system is working by following every step an employee would follow. If they discover the height adjustment system is working only one way and they notify the craftsman so the problem gets fixed, do they actually change the quality of the chair? The team discovers a defect and reveals the risks and limitations that can impact the business and the users. Further, business people can use this information to make a decision.

What do you think QA would do? Think how well did the chair meet the needs? See how did the team discover the defect? Ask what can be shared with other teams? See what could be done better next time? Most probably, yes.

Getting closer to resolutions

It might be clearer now that a bad software application coming in to testing will be a bad software application coming out of testing. Testing and finding defects do not improve quality, bugs are just symptoms of poor quality. Testing is a method for revealing useful information and for that we should rely on testing and see testing in terms of its information value.

Think how can you have quality unless you know what to make better.

What can help you decide what to improve? Investigation. Testing assesses the current state of the software application and provides information about it. Based on that, from a business perspective, you can use the output of the assessment to make more informed decisions.

QA, on the other hand, refers to the quality at the functional and development level, throughout the software development process, from gathering requirements to maintenance. This involves the way of working, documentation, standards, processes that are used.

Testing assesses the product quality and participates to it. But is the QA which has the power to enhance quality.

Testing assesses the product quality and participates to it. But is the QA which has the power to enhance quality.

Any organization with an open, quality-oriented culture approaches both Testing and QA in the early stages of the project.

After all, for a successful project, quality is something that every part takes responsibility for, no matter if we talk about gathering requirements, designing, coding, testing, delivery, support. Testing is an apple from the apple tree.

And any organization with an open, quality-oriented culture thinks about quality and testing at all stages of a project and not just once code is written. They understand how starting testing and embedding quality assurance in the project as early as possible bring cost-efficiency, prevent delays, add value and produce quality products, make users happier.

Any organization with an open, quality-oriented culture knows that both Testing and QA should start in the early stages of the project to define plans, process implementation, QA systems, test strategy and test process which, together, will satisfy the requirements and add value to the project and to the business on the long term.

But there’s still so much to talk about this generous topic and the discussion is just at the beginning.

Our Testing & QA Conversations is a series in which we share and discuss various subjects related to Testing and QA. In the next months, you’ll be able to read entries about why is QA important for businesses, where makes QA its biggest impact, what are the benefits of using test automation, how to support business through performance testing, what benefits brings continuous delivery, and more.

 


You can lose milions in sales if your e-commerce website is too slow during peak moments.

We know how crazy those times can be. We can help you prevent them. Click here to find out how we help our business partners succeed.