Quality Assurance

Across a diverse range of manufacturing industries, including engineering, pharmaceuticals, and IT, Quality Assurance (QA) plays a pivotal role in shaping and overseeing processes. It ensures the seamless integration of these processes into the company's ecosystem, fostering enhanced efficiency at both the organizational and production levels, ultimately leading to product refinement

QA proactively anticipates and mitigates potential issues such as production flow disruptions , communication breakdowns, implementation and design bugs. Unlike rigid, bureaucratic procedures, QA’s process-defining approach aims to simplify and streamline operations, achieving both ease of use and superior product quality.

QA adopts a holistic project perspective, encompassing the entire process from the initial requirements gathering phase to the final reporting stage. QA and testing, while closely related, have distinct roles and responsibilities. In fact, QA upholds the proper execution of the entire process, supporting testing activities from start to finish.

Quality Assurance vs. Testing: understanding the main differences

Quality Assurance vs. Testing

Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing are two closely related but distinct fields within software development.  QA is a broader concept that encompasses the entire process of ensuring that software meets its requirements and is of high quality. Testing is a specific product-oriented activity within QA that involves executing test cases to identify and report defects. 

In other words, QA is about preventing defects, while testing is about finding them. QA plays a central role in defining processes to implement the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), a structured framework that guides the software development process from conception to deployment.

The definition of an SDLC model is intricate, as it entails consideration of various factors including the company organizational structure , the type of software developed (for instance, an Agile model does not combine with safety-critical software), the technologies employed and the organization's maturity level. QA plays an important role in shaping the SDLC, not merely contributing but rather serving as an integral component. QA oversees the establishment and execution of the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC), where testing activities overlap with development to ensure product testability. In addition, QA continuously monitors and refines processes, ensuring that the designed workflow aligns with the desired outcomes.

On the other hand, testing plays a corrective role, actively seeking to identify and verify bugs before the product reaches production. This proactive approach, known as "Shift-Left" testing, involves testers collaborating with product owners in the early stages of requirement definition to ensure clarity and testability.

The cost of bug fixing escalates with each development phase, making early detection during requirement definition both faster and more cost-effective  As development progresses, costs rise significantly, particularly after release into the test environment and up to production wheretime and resource constraints are significantly higher. Furthermore, uncovering bugs in production damages stakeholder trust.

Testing encompasses a diverse range of types and techniques tailored to specific development phases and product categories. For instance, unit tests are employed during code writing, while usability, portability, interruptibility, load, and stress tests are conducted for mobile apps.
In general, QA and Testing are both essential for ensuring that software meets its requirements and is of high quality. QA professionals provide the framework for achieving quality, while testers are responsible for executing the tests that identify and report defects.

How Automation and Artificial Intelligence impact Quality Assurance and Testing?

Both QA and Testing are evolving to keep pace with the latest trends in the IT industry, with a particular focus on Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Automation is having a profound impact on  processes , simplifying, standardizing, and reducing software management costs. This has led to an increasing synergy between QA and Devops within companies, with QA becoming an integral part of  the testing and development process and ensuring  its presence at every level.

Automation also plays a crucial role in testing, reducing execution times, mitigating human errors in repetitive test steps, and freeing up resources for testing activities where automation is less  effective or impractical. 

Examples of automated testing include regression tests, performance tests, and integration tests, the latter of which provides significant benefits for APIs. Various automation methods exist, each with advantages suited to specific contexts. For tests with lower complexity and abstraction, simpler test methods are recommended. Types of automated tests include linear scripting, scripting using libraries, keyword-driven  and model-based testing. Different tools are available to support these methodologies, and the choice depends on factors such as the System Under Test (SUT) and the test framework

Recently , AI has emerged as a valuable tool for test support. Among the various methods,the "Natural Language Processing"(NLP) approach is particularly compelling as it allows test cases to be written in a descriptive mode using common language. This will empower a broader  population to perform automated tests with ease.

Quality Assurance behind innovation and success

The concept of "Quality" has been an essential element of success since the ancient Phoenicians employed inspectors to ensure quality standards were met.

Quality evolves alongside progress, influencing every field from manufacturing to technology. For instance, the mobile phone transformation from a simple calling device to today's versatile smartphones highlights the importance of quality driven by user feedback.

In a nutshell, Quality Assurance is an essential process for a successful business as well as the key differentiator between successful products from those that fail to meet expectations. QA plays a crucial role in distinguishing a company from its competitors and achieving its goals of innovation and success by maintaining the high quality of its products and services.

Are you curious to learn more about the main differences between Quality Assurance and Testing? Are you interested in further exploring the future perspectives with Automation and Artificial Intelligence? Listen to the latest episode of our Bitrock Tech Radio Podcast, or get in contact with one of our experienced engineers and consultants!

Main Author: Manuele Salvador, Software Quality Automation Manager @ Bitrock