Do You Really Need a QA Engineer on Your Software Development Project?

By: Segiy Sergienko, 21 May 2019
7   min read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Did you know that each bug in a software product can be really expensive? Did you know that fixing defects after the product was launched costs approximately 30 times as much  as fixing them during the design and architecture phase?

  • If your answers were no, you have come to the right place. We are going to tell you about why software QA is so important for your business and how it helps you to save money.
  • If at least one of your answers was yes, we have something for you, too. Today, we are going to dig into the peculiarities of QA and answer the questions that bother so many entrepreneurs worldwide: Is QA really important for your next project? Do you actually need to hire a qualified QA engineer to make your product impeccable? Would your project fail without well-established QA processes?

What is a QA Engineer?

We always expect QA processes to be taken seriously by business owners. But then, several clients and partners have approached us with the same question: is there a need for a QA engineer on our team? It was surprising but reasonable: since people look for ways to cut their IT engineering costs, they wonder if there is any possibility to dispense with QA. This is why we have analyzed the frequently asked questions, looked back at our own experience, and prepared a comprehensive answer to this important question.

Introduction to QA

QA stands for quality assurance and is a component of the software development lifecycle. QA engineers investigate the essence of a product, its structure, and its features in order to identify any tiny thing that doesn’t meet the requirements and expectations. Long story short, QA engineers look for defects, a.k.a. bugs, in the apps.

The key thing that must be mentioned when describing a QA specialist is that this person has to think outside the box. The QA expert’s goal isn’t to break a solution and show the developers their mistakes. No: the QA team works hard to reveal the product’s potential weaknesses and helps the whole team to deliver a truly superior solution.

QA expert’s key responsibilities

A better understanding of this topic is impossible without knowing what QA entails:

Meeting the requirements

Before starting the development process, this specialist creates detailed documentation on which functionality and features your app must have. Besides this, he or she develops a clear vision of design and front-end specifics.

Designing test documentation

Documentation is crucial. The QA specialist develops a scheme of an app’s functionality and step-by-step plans to check every feature. This augments the previous point: test documentation helps to make sure the app looks and works exactly as you want it to.

Finding and reporting errors

Even the most experienced developers make mistakes. In some cases, a well-thought-out piece of code acts in an unexpected way. The responsible specialist finds errors and reports the findings to developers and managers. Besides this, they develop a strategy for stressing a system in order to reveal its weak spots.

In many cases, the QA professional helps to build more user-oriented and intuitive UX, improve the UI, and confirm that the solution is ready for production.

Types of tests

The QA engineer deals with a variety of tests. Here are the five most common:

Smoke test

This is a fast and simple way to check the app’s basic functionality. When is it the best time to implement one? It is useful when a new build has just been made or a critical defect has been fixed, and the need to check whether everything works well arises.

Functional test

As its name says, this test helps to make sure the functionality has been developed in strict accordance with the documentation. This type of test focuses on the outcome without considering intermediate states.

Integration test

This sort of test helps to ensure that different components and modules of your software system work correctly together. It may be included in your processes after the major part of the functionality is up and running.

End-to-end test

To implement this test, a specialist needs to build a user behavior scheme beforehand. After that, they need to take each of the described steps one by one and verify that the user experience isn’t interrupted by any kind of issue. There are many scenarios of user actions in your app, and every single one requires a special end-to-end test to be constructed.

Performance test

It is not enough to claim that your app is able to handle high loads. It is vital to check the truth of this. This is where performance tests are helpful. They include measuring the response time while executing a huge number of requests and watching how a large volume of data affects the entire system.

Key Stages of the QA Lifecycle

Let’s shed some light on the QA lifecycle within your software development project. But first, you need to remember one essential fact. Development and testing need to be performed simultaneously. That means you cannot develop a brand-new app from scratch, and then go back to testing and QA procedures. As we mentioned at the very beginning of the article, this will lead to huge expenses.

Documentation review

To build a basis for QA processes, detailed documentation is needed. The QA specialist reviews the project and its requirements and makes sure that described techniques are clear and all the functionality can be checked properly.

In some cases, the QA professional requests some extra details concerning the particular project. Besides this, at this stage, the team decides on the tools to use for project and defect management, such as Jira, Redmine, Trello, etc. A proper toolset will help the entire team to keep their fingers on the pulse.

Design of test plans and test cases

At this stage, the QA engineer creates a plan of actions that should be performed to check every feature or piece of code. Each step has to be described in detail, and the expected outcome of each action must be clear before the process starts.

Running the test cases

A few lines above, we introduced the most common types of tests used in software QA. At this stage, the QA specialist turns theory into practice. They follow carefully the steps of each test plan, check the functionality, modules and features, system behavior in high-load conditions, security level, etc. Another significant thing is to check whether a piece of software looks and works well on every device (cross-platform tests) and every browser (cross-browser tests).

Reporting the issues

The QA engineer describes each issue and defect and reports them to the rest of the team. The report includes broken links, security holes, interface imperfections, etc. and the ways to find them. Each team member has access to this information and can start working on the fix the moment the bug is reported.

A useful practice is to set a priority for each issue so the development engineer understands which bugs they need to start with.

Verification stage

Thanks to the bug tracking system, the testing engineer gets a notification when the issue is fixed. They repeat the steps from the test case or test plan to make sure everything works correctly. When no issue is detected, the bug ticket is closed. Then the same process starts from the very beginning but focusing on a different feature.

The QA engineer is someone who is constantly focused on the quality of your product while you devote your time and attention to business goals.

Three Main Reasons to Have a QA Engineer on Your Project

As you can see, as a part of a team, this specialist fulfills some essential tasks. However, to highlight the importance of cooperation with QA experts, we prepared three points that prove that QA’s contribution is invaluable.

Defect detection

In your marketing campaign, you promise users that your product is everything they’ve been looking for. You guarantee sky-high quality and swear your app is the magic pill that will satisfy all their needs.

But how can you be sure about the quality of the product you deliver? Have you made sure everything works correctly? Have you foreseen all possible customer actions to guarantee that nothing will break down? Quality assurance is not easy, and someone skilled must take care of it.

Problem prevention

Let’s say you have developed a nice app without QA’s assistance. Let’s say this app even meets the App Store’s requirements, and you expect it to bring money right to your pocket. But the first users immediately find a bug. A week passes, and another bug pops up. Day after day, your customer support team tries to explain to the users how to handle this or that issue. The support team doesn’t know how to help the users; users get annoyed with the poor quality of the solution they spent their money on. The users keep reporting bugs, yelling at the support team, and sharing their opinions about your project for everyone to see.

As a result, they will eventually delete your app and never trust your products again. Trusting their feedback, many other users will abandon the idea of trying your solutions. This is how businesses die.

How can you prevent this? The answer is simple: a QA engineer could help you to avoid negative feedback, sales decrease, and failure.

Preserving reputation

Your product is your company’s face. Its quality is proof for each user that they can trust you, and one of the main things to beat the competitors. Don’t miss your chance to prove your reliability by trying to save money on QA.

Two Questions That May Still Bother You

Still, haven’t found what you are looking for? Here are the answers to two of the most popular questions:

Can a software engineer do the QA’s job?

A developer creates functionality according to requirements. Each skilled specialist is sure about the quality of code they write; besides this, a developer knows for sure what a certain piece of code is responsible for. However, software creators cannot look at their own products with a fresh perspective. They can perform unit testing; however, this is not enough. So no, a software engineer cannot replace the QA engineer.

When does my project not need QA at all?

If we are talking about an internal system that does not bear much significance or a pet project, you don’t need a QA specialist. But if you plan to set the market on fire with your innovative idea, you need a professional to test the implementation of this idea.

In Conclusion

QA is indeed crucial. A QA engineer is an irreplaceable person on your team. Although it might seem less than necessary, it’s better to trust the facts and save your business from pitfalls by cooperating with a reliable QA expert.

Do you still have doubts, questions or concerns? Just drop us a line and we’ll help you figure everything out!

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