Quality assurance, according to Capgemini’s World Quality Report, is so important in the world of software development that companies spend about 35 percent of their budgets on it annually. Over one-third!
If you’ve been finicky on QA investing, it’s time to get un-finicky. In this article, we’ll be looking at the importance of quality assurance. First, however, let’s clearly define it by taking the contrarian view.
What Quality Assurance Is Not
A quality management system, as for example the popular ISO 9001 quality management system, on the other hand, takes an even more comprehensive approach and includes quality assurance as well. To dive into the world of ISO 9001, you’d best take an ISO 9001 online course to get started
There are some misconceptions when answering the question of what is quality assurance. QA is often confused with the things it is not.
It is not to be used interchangeably with concepts like testing or quality control. While those are parts of the whole, they do not go far enough in describing what quality assurance actually is.
Software testing is the process of evaluating a software product to determine whether it meets preset requirements or contains any errors. It can be performed manually or through artificial intelligence programs.
Testing specifically has to do with coding and programming. It’s the “under the hood” stuff. While this is important, it doesn’t speak fully to the user experience. In other words, the most brilliantly written line of code may not have anything at all to do with features that make a user’s life easier.
Quality control is a process of assessing a product or service and determining whether it meets the quality standards to satisfy customers. QC ensures a product or service will be fit for the purpose it is initially intended. It goes beyond code to look at the design, whether the features promised deliver the benefits intended, and responding to unforeseen issues.
A Finished Process
Thinking that quality assurance is a finished process is the surest way to derail a product. Many software developers outsourcing services to companies like Qualitylogic.com do so because they know the plates are always shifting.
Problems that did not initially exist may arise as operating systems and online platforms issue updates. On the customer side, needs not initially envisioned when the product rolled out may become paramount a year or two down the road.
That brings us to what quality assurance is. Quality assurance is testing and quality control to get a minimum viable product, and it is the ongoing TLC of the product or service so that it meets quality standards over time. It can benefit your company in the following additional ways.
Quality Assurance Saves Time
Starting with a quality assurance process in place will help you catch mistakes as early as possible. Mistakes could threaten the viability of your product and the reputation of your company.
The sooner you can debug or eliminate errors in the product, the less backtracking you’ll have to do. It’s far easier to catch the errors yourself rather than allowing your paying customers to do it for you.
Helps You Compete
Something else to consider about the importance of quality assurance is that your competition is already doing it. Assume their QA is well-established. You’re playing catch-up.
That means you have to scrutinize your product from every angle to make sure that you’re the one catching the issues. If you go into QA with this attitude, you’ll be far more likely to stand out as a higher-quality option than whatever else is out on the market.
Time is money. When you save time, you save money. That means paying less in labor, using fewer resources, and not having to go on lengthy apology tours or reeducation campaigns about something that should have worked right from the start.
Most developers spend 20 percent of their time fixing problems. Think about what getting that 20 percent back would mean to your company. If the average developer earns over $100,000 per year, then you are spending at least $20,000 per developer on mistakes without a QA team.
One horrific mistake can cost you millions of dollars. Do a few searches around the Internet, and you’ll find software issues that cost people in all sorts of ways.
Uber found this out the hard way when a cheating husband claimed an app glitch ratted him out to his wife. Moral underpinnings aside, he sued for millions and settled out of court.
All it takes is one mistake to lose the public’s trust in your product. If you make them feel unsafe using it, then no amount of fixing your mistakes will help. That’s why you’ve got to catch issues as early as possible.
Outsourcing quality assurance, or at least parts of it that you’re ill-equipped to handle, will lend a little extra security to your product. Partners can help you spot new security threats you’re not prepared for before your walls are breached.
You can also sometimes be too close to your own product. This leads to overlooking clear vulnerabilities that exist in the standard operations of your product.
Leads to Happier Customers
Catching potential issues now will lead to happier customers later. This is particularly important for software developers, who serve a small but prestigious following of clients. (Common practice in the often super-niche markets that software products serve.)
Take writing software as an example. Key players like Storyist, Scrivener, Ulysses, and Final Draft, have emerged in the last decade as the top programs for professional and aspiring writers.
Word can travel quickly if any of these programs were to have issues that went unchecked for very long. It can take years to build a reputation, but only a few days to lose it. These four companies have outlasted tons of upstarts over the years on the basis of their high-caliber quality assurance teams.
And Happier Investors
Whether you outsource quality assurance or do it all in-house, you can tell how effective your efforts are based on the enthusiasm and participation of your investors. Angel, venture capitalists, bank loans, crowdsourcing, it doesn’t matter.
You’ll get more buy-in and support when people feel good about the QA measures in place.
QA Is Vital to Software Development and Company Performance
We hope this brief look at what quality assurance is and why it’s so important gives you a better idea of what your customers expect. Hopefully, too, you have a better idea of how to root out and address any existing or possible issues with your own product or service.
Best of luck as you give things second and third looks. For more technology-focused tips and information, check out some of our additional posts!