Quality Assurance can make or break a company - so why is the QA Department so unloved? Tweet This
Based on my years of experience in Quality Assurance, I can tell you that we are one of the most hated departments in any company. We are the ‘enemy’ who interrupt the workflow with our constant nitpicking and attention to detail.
We are also usually the most expensive department. So not only is it our job to annoy developers and the IT department, but we also get given a huge chunk of the budget with which to do it.
Quality costs money
Yet this is normal, because quality comes at a price. When considering a platform like the one we have at Evo Pricing, you are talking about months, even years, of work and testing by developers, coders and data scientists. Every change, every build, has to be tested to destruction before we can declare it stable and release it for use by our clients.
In the case of software testing, we have a very clear process we follow that is based on the requirements we have gathered - in other words, what it is exactly that you want the software to do.
What is software testing?
- Requirement gathering
- Requirement analysis
- Sign off requirement
- Test plan / strategy
- Preparing test cases
- Review and freeze test cases
- Execution of test cases
This area is often the cause of big fights between QA and other stakeholders because of scope creep in the requirements. Requirements have to be signed off and locked in. Minor changes can often be accommodated, but any major change means going back to the drawing board.
The QA department needs support from the top
If there’s one thing in a project guaranteed to make me tear my hair out in frustration, it’s a stakeholder telling me that a major overhaul of the requirements “Shouldn’t take more than a day or two.”
Fortunately, the CEO of Evo Pricing, Fabrizio Fantini, has put QA at the forefront of everything we do, and the team understand and accept the consequences of any major proposed changes to requirements. I also have his support when it comes to the constant tension between deadlines and quality. It’s no good meeting a deadline with a product that doesn’t meet a customer’s expectations 100%.
Sacrificing quality for expediency never ends well. People often wrongly attribute the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster to a quality assurance failure. In fact, NASA was aware of the risks the O-ring seal posed in the subzero temperatures, but management felt under pressure to produce a successful launch despite the misgivings of the engineers.
A Quality Assurance proverb
Quality Assurance reminds me a lot of that old English proverb
For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost.
For the want of a rider the battle was lost
For the want of a battle the Kingdom was lost.
The modern day version would look something like this:
Because of the bug the programme was lost,
Because of the programme the system was lost,
Because of the system the platform was lost,
Because of the platform the company was lost.
We’re all working towards the same goal
So, cherish your QA department.
Show them a bit of love.
Their aim is the same as yours - to produce the best possible product in the shortest possible time.
It’s just, you know, those bugs.
We can’t help ourselves - we’re programmed to seek out and destroy :-)
About the writer
Tina Xhemalallari is our Delivered Quality Guarantee. With more than 8 years of experience in Quality Assurance.
She writes and executes test plans based on Requirements and Use Cases, preventing bugs and developing guidelines, processes and user manuals. A BS in Computer Science from SunyIT at Utica-Rome, she is a relentless globetrotter.