Quality Assurance: Surefire Ways to Improve Your Efforts

Harshal Vora
July 5, 2018

Quality Assurance in the age of Agile is hard. It is a moving goal post. Throw some buzzwords like continuous testing and shift-left, and you have intimated the best of teams. The shift towards testing early and often, the constantly blurring lines between development and operations, and the breathtaking speed of development and releases demanded by contemporary delivery cycles – turns a shiny, new spotlight on quality.

What are some ways to avoid bottle necks and see Quality as an enabler to shorten your development cycles and get a competitive advantage?

Developing tests during the requirements phase

QA’s role during requirement analysis is often undermined. Since this lays the base for all future development, the importance of getting the requirements right can’t be stressed enough.

There is a strong convention now that recommends testing at the outset even if all requirements are not yet defined. Begin writing test cases based on requirements even before you start writing the code.

One compelling reason to do this is simply the cost of fixing defects after the fact. For instance, read this blog about the differences in defect costs with both the approaches – find-and-fix and pre-release.

Improve your test management and organization

Sounds simple enough. But you will be surprised how much time, effort and expense is squandered because of lack of planning and organization.

Implement specific steps to use a consistent approach and standardized testing processes across the organization. This is particularly useful if you have distributed QA teams in multiple locations. Planning is essential from laying out objectives, strategies, test design specs and test cases.

If you haven’t created a central test repository, you should consider it now. Also, check your test cases for duplicate/redundant test cases. Removing duplicates and reusing existing test cases alone will save a considerable amount of time and effort.

Test intelligently to optimize quality

Remember automation is your friend. It can vastly improve coverage, remove manual errors, increase productivity and production, and enhance your time to market.

Now there is Intelligent Test Automation that uses AI and machine learning to optimize your quality lifecycle. You can shorten the development and QA cycle remarkably with better test depth and cognitive defect prevention. Use data-driven testing to help you prioritize test cases and leverage a reusable framework. Use intelligent result analysis to enhance your response rates.

This is highly valuable in today’s competitive landscape where customer experience and expectations are shaped instantly.

Make smarter tool choices

Select tools that support integration, your existing CI/CD tools, your automation framework. Does your tool offer a comprehensive view of all projects? Do you get real-time, actionable insights into software quality metrics and delivery?

A contemporary tool should have above all, an easy to use interface and minimize the effort put into testing. Be it test authoring, execution, metrics, reports, leaderboards, traceability. Some of the better tools offer real-time integration with several project management tools.

Remember, the right tool offers much more than test management. It offers scale, reusability, customization and measures up on all three counts of agility, quality and efficiency.

Get independent, expert feedback

Sometimes an outsider perspective is just what you need to avoid being blindsided by habit and ritual patterns. Consult with domain experts, attend industry conferences and webinars, opt for product demos and trials. You never know what tricks can be unfolded by being open to ideas and resources.

Measure, rate and review

Regularly review and measure the test efficiency. Set clear KPIs and analyze the efficacy of all your QA efforts. It is necessary to note that you need concise metrics that lead to continuous improvement. From total test effort and test efficiency, test execution, effectiveness, number of defects and priorities, test coverage, defect turnaround times – the list is quite elaborate.

Pick the right criteria to focus on, and then use this data to continuously improve the output of your quality assurance lifecycle.

Ultimately, the aim of all QA is to help deliver a better product, faster, with a competitive advantage. The scope goes far beyond running tests and reporting defects. With rising product and software complexity, testing, validation and quality will assume a more challenging role. One part of this equation is simplified with the correct technology. Take a look at some of our solutions or sign up for a free trial to understand this better.

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