Do you know the size of the global QA market? According to GMInsights, its value exceeded $15 billion in 2020. Analysts predict the annual growth of the niche by 16% by 2027. Agile and DevOps methodologies are leaders today, used by most IT product developers. These methods are not innovative, as they were developed as the result of many years of experimentation and modernization. Their key feature is automation, or rather the ability to automate almost all tests that are inefficient when provided manually: expensive, time-consuming, and impractical.
Test automation solves the main problem of SQA teams: it speeds up routine processes and optimizes the ratio of work/time spent on testing all the software features. ZappleTech experts conducted market research of QA technologies and methods, looking for best practices to improve the quality and speed up the QA testing process. The result is this material, and we want to share it with you, dear readers. Grab your coffee and croissant, make yourself comfortable, we’re getting started!
Table of Contents
QA testing process: the path to excellence
The idea of quality control is as old as the world. It began to be implemented in the 1980s when Waterfall was the predominant methodology. In those days, QA specialists did their job in the later development stages and tested almost complete products. As a result, they would detect bugs that required rewriting the application code from scratch, which wasted the time and money of developers and customers.
Usually, it was solved in three ways:
- Restarting production and rebuilding software considering past experience and bugs found. As a result, after several iterations of edits, applications were released, ready to conquer the wallets of users.
- The product was produced “as is”, i.e., with mistakes. Developers released patches to fix most of the performance or interface problems. This approach drew criticism and rarely paid off the investment.
- If the bugs were not critical, software was released without editing and revisions, causing public outrage. Of course, raw IT products were almost not in demand and ruined the customers’ business and the reputation of the performers.
By the beginning of the 2000s, development had completely changed, and flexibility and adaptation had become priorities. The concept of “shift left” came to QA along with simultaneous testing and coding. The entire software development roadmap was divided into so-called sprints. This approach implied defining functions to implement and check for errors immediately. At the same time, regression testing was introduced into QA, which ensured more control over the quality of an IT product.
The only drawback was the work speed. Regression testing required a cyclical repetition of actions and more resources from QA teams. Fortunately, the situation changed again in 2010. Testers learned how to create automated scripts to reproduce real actions in a test environment. This is how test automation came to QA.
QA processes and procedures: from preparation to implementation
ZappleTech experts work in the QA field, so they thoroughly know how testing IT products with Agile and DevOps methods goes step by step. We have prepared for you a small excursion into the magic world of quality assurance, which is usually hidden behind the screen of perfectly implemented products. Let’s imagine a typical development cycle and define the role of the SQA team in a couple of sprints.
The procedure includes:
- Creating a roadmap of the project. It contains the key and secondary functions to implement. Next, outlining an MVP layout and writing and cases for future tests.
- Agreeing on all planned works and approving by all project participants. Preparations for the first sprints begin here.
- Development starts, and QA specialists write detailed cases to start testing. Typically, they only include white-box testing of functions.
- Reviewing results at the end of the first cycle. Fixing some bugs and keeping the rest to subsequent stages with different priorities.
- The second sprint starts. Launching regression testing using developed tools. The QA team works on current tasks.
- Repeating process at each development cycle until the final testing, which shows the actual results of all previous sprints.
It sounds simple and straightforward, but in practice, this process takes a lot of time and effort for QA specialists. To speed up the routine, professionals use specific automation tools. They allow for focusing on urgent tasks and delegating monotonous and repetitive actions to the program code. Does code that tests code sound futuristic? Not at all. This is a new reality and QA development vector that will become the basis for the methodologies of the future.
QA process in software testing: automation tools
In past articles, we repeatedly mentioned such tools as Ranorex, Appium, Selenium, WinAppDriver, and TestComplete. They have similar functionality but differ in purpose, scripting languages, and supported testing platforms. Each tester chooses the toolkit for their skill level and current tasks. There are also projects where the team is assembled based on the selected technical stack. But even in this case, there are options for QA processes and procedures that help automate tests. They ensure the proper level of testing quality for both the code and the interface of IT products.
Speed up QA process: alignment and compromise
You know that the testing process rarely meets the deadline since some of the checks are often ignored by the QA team or postponed to the final sprints. As a rule, bugs in Agile/DevOps reach the release versions but in a much smaller volume than with the good old Waterfall technique. Is there a way to speed up SQA and meet the agreed development deadline? Yes. Our experts analyzed best practices and cases to prepare recommendations for optimizing the production process and ensuring proper quality control.
However, miracles do not happen in the real world and in IT development especially. Testing takes more than a matter of minutes, even with the most optimistic analysts’ forecasts. It is a painstaking and time-consuming process that requires the attention of all project participants. But with automation and parallelization, it can be significantly accelerated and optimized.
To do this, you need:
- Before starting the development, unite the team and make the project a priority for each participant.
- Prepare technical documentation to indicate the priorities and vital features of the IT product.
- Prepare a work plan considering the time spent on each cycle of coding and testing.
- Research the technical stack and choose the right tools to work with it.
- Write cases and test scenarios using black and white box methods, as well as scripts for regression checks.
- Follow the plan without deviating from the original structure.
- Automate all routine cyclical processes that slow down the SQA process.
- Parallelize testing for different platforms, run them simultaneously in the cloud or locally.
We believe that the described actions speed up the QA process and optimize teamwork. Of course, you can expand the staff and hire additional specialists, but it entails budget costs and introduces team inconsistencies. In modern realities, it is enough to have a small and cohesive group of QA experts who are experienced in automation, have a background in programming, and love their job. Our employees are a good example of this. We implemented dozens of projects for both startups and large business sharks. Therefore, we boldly assert that SQA requires involvement, practical skills, and a little experience.
QA release process: release is just the beginning of support
There is a myth that the routine stops with the release of an IT product, and the QA team becomes unnecessary. It is fiction from those who release raw solutions and don’t want to spend a budget on support.
Actually, the problems begin after the release because:
- Users do not know how the program works, so they use it improperly, breaking the debugged mechanisms.
- New bugs come along with improvements and updates, which appear in non-standard situations or use scenarios.
- If it is a web application or mobile software, performance decreases over time due to the increased load on the servers.
- There may be failures related to payment services or integrated modules, which also require prompt intervention.
- Sometimes, IT products are upgraded by in-house resources or other contractors, causing inconsistencies in the code, which leads to new problems.
- An app becomes outdated and requires cosmetic and technical repairs, which are best left to the original performers
As you can see, the QA team is needed even after the IT product is released to the market. Only specialists can quickly track the errors and pass them on to the developer. Timely fixing the app’s problem areas ensures further development and effective business operation.
Now you know in detail the problems of SQA in modern realities. If you have any questions, leave comments, and we will provide the necessary information. To keep in touch with our resource, subscribe to our news and add the website to bookmarks. See you soon, dear readers!