QA Test Metrics and QA Process for Software Quality
Custom software development is a multifaceted process that demands expertise, experience and creativity. Professional developers understand the importance of building a high-quality product that will meet the requirements of clients and provide a satisfactory experience for the end user. Quality assurance is an integral part of software development that ferrets out any bugs or flaws before the product is released to the client.
Testing is a key element of software development. It tells us if our product is going to perform as expected, and flags important flaws before they become major issues. More importantly, testing gives us quantitative data that helps us measure improvements and progress. A popular adage in science is that you cannot test what you cannot measure, and software quality is no exception.
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What Exactly is a QA Metric?
Quality assurance metrics are quantitative indicators that measure certain attributes of a process or product. Test metrics can help answer several important questions during the software development lifecycle:
- Is the attribute performing as predicted?
- What types of improvements are required?
- Do we need to make changes to technology or processes?
- Are we ready to move on to the next phase of development?
Depending on the development methodology being used, software metrics may inform the development team at every iteration of development, or later on in the SDLC, before the product is delivered and released.
Categories of Software Testing Metrics
Software development test metrics can be classified by type, depending on their specific purpose.
Project Metrics quantify various aspects of project execution. They can be used to measure a project team’s efficiency, or the effectiveness of testing tools used by the team. They may include:
- Cost of defects
- Estimation of project resources and deliverables
Process Metrics measure the effectiveness and efficiency of various processes. They can be used to improve the efficiency of various processes during the development lifecycle. Process metrics may include:
- Machine testing defect density
- Machine testing defect arrival patterns
- Phase-based defect removal patterns
- Effectiveness of defect removal
Product Metrics are concerned with product quality, user experience and customer satisfaction. They may include:
- Mean time to failure (how long software should work continuously without failure)
- Defect density analysis (number of confirmed defects)
- Customer issues and satisfaction
- User experience feedback
The Software Quality Metrics Lifecycle
There are dozens of test metrics used in project development, and not all of them will be appropriate or necessary for your project. Selecting which testing metrics to use for your project should depend on the specifics and business model of the project. If your project belongs to health tech, learn more about medical software testing and QA in medicine.
Just like other aspects of software development, testing metrics have a lifecycle of their own:
- Project analysis. Determining which type of QA metrics will be useful, and which specific ones will be used.
- Communication with stakeholders and team members. Explain which metrics are needed, and which data points should be captured.
- Data verification and analysis. Metric values are calculated from the collected data.
- Reporting. Create a report that explains the metric’s meaning and value, with a conclusive result. Share the report with stakeholders and receive feedback.
What a Software Quality Metric Tells Us
Software quality metrics give us an overview of the quality of developed software. They measure the following aspects of software quality:
- Performance metrics tell us how well the source code is written and evaluate the overall software architecture and its components, including web servers, databases and other architectural elements.
- Security metrics measure the number and levels of vulnerabilities of the software. They assess whether the software can be breached by hackers, exposing sensitive data or disrupting the software’s performance. Security vulnerabilities may be linked to coding errors or defects in the project’s architecture.
- Reliability metrics are related to a product’s risk of failure. They measure the product’s stability and resistance to regression when changes are made.
- Code quality and maintainability metrics measure the product’s adaptability, portability and transferability. High-quality code makes a product easier to maintain.
- Delivery rate is an especially important metric in Agile development. The more frequently new software iterations are delivered to stakeholders and users, the more feedback is received, leading to better product quality.
Software Quality Metrics vs Successful End Product
Testing metrics give us important quantitative information that helps guide the software development lifecycle, but at the end of the day, the quality of the end product is determined by qualitative values that answer the questions:
- Did the product satisfy the customer’s requirements?
- Does the product perform flawlessly and deliver exceptional user experience?
- Did the development process move along smoothly, and was the product delivered on time?
- Will the customer return for other products, or refer us to new customers?
In other words, a high-quality product is more than the sum of its QA metrics. It satisfies both the customer and the end user, and generates future business for the software development team.
It is important for developers to keep their eyes on the prize through every phase of the SDLC, and not be sidelined by quality metrics that only paint a partial picture of the finished product.
QA Process Documentation
A review of the client’s requirements is the first stage of the software quality assurance process. Accurate and understandable documentation is fundamental to making the QA process flow smoothly. QA engineers review project documents for consistency, clarity and completeness.
The goal of documentation review is to ensure that system architecture and technologies can be executed and verified. Review of requirements and analysis of documentation help developers detect errors before they are executed, and ensure the client’s requirements are fully met.
Once the product’s requirements are clearly documented and understood, the QA team can move ahead with test planning, design and execution. In the test planning stage, a strategy is laid out for actions that need to be taken to accurately evaluate the product’s status.
Test planning includes composing test cases that provide detailed specifications for a single test’s inputs, execution, procedures, and expected results.
QA testing follows several steps:
- Requirement analysis
- Test planning
- Test design
- Feature testing
- Regression testing
- Usage analytics
- User monitoring
- Smoke testing
QA tests fall under one of three categories:
- Functional tests zero in on the product’s functionality, to ensure it meets the client’s requirements for quality user experience.
- Non-functional tests focus on the technical elements of a product, such as stability, performance, security, scalability and endurance.
- Maintenance tests are run after the product is launched, to ensure smooth ongoing performance.
Software Quality Assurance Processes
The quality assurance process is a methodical approach that determines a product’s functionality and durability, based on certain requirements and criteria. It entails testing various aspects of the product throughout the software development lifecycle.
Following are the most common QA testing processes:
- Unit testing assures the quality of individual units of source code, to ensure proper functionality.
- Integration testing combines individual modules of software and tests them as an integrated group.
- System testing is based on the product’s requirements and tests the entire system, to ensure it is compliant.
- Performance testing tests the entire system’s stability and responsiveness under a given workload.
- Security testing looks for weaknesses in the system that make its data and resources vulnerable to threats and breaches.
- Cross-platform testing ensures that the software functions flawlessly on various web browsers, operating systems, and devices.
- Test case updates are made to annotate whether the test passed, failed or is ready for a retest. It helps developers keep track of which tests have been executed, added, modified, updated, or deleted.
- Regression testing re-runs functional and non-functional tests to verify that the system’s functionality has not been compromised by subsequent code changes.
When and where the QA test process occurs depends on the specific project and the methodology used by the development team. While some software development methodologies postpone testing until after the product is fully developed, more modern approaches like Agile integrate QA testing from start to finish. Integrated testing saves time and money, speeding up the development process without compromising the end product’s quality.
The Agile QA Process
In projects developed with Agile methodology, the software quality assurance process is introduced at the project’s earliest stage, to eliminate problems as early as possible. With Agile, QA testing becomes an integral part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), and is repeated with every sprint.
With the Agile QA approach, quality assurance is built in at every step, eliminating the need to backtrack later to fix bugs and flaws. Testing is done with the user in mind, to ensure a value-driven product. User-focused QA processes save time and money, and ensure a quality end-product that satisfies both clients and their target audiences.
Reporting QA Test Results
As part of the QA process, test results must be documented for developers and stakeholders. The QA team reports daily on any tests completed that day, and also keeps a test summary report that provides details on all the testing activities completed in a given time period. The summary report should include a comparison of test objective vs test results.
Software Development Testing by Tateeda
At TATEEDA, our medical software developers use quality metrics at every stage of healthcare solution development, catching flaws and bugs early on to ensure a high-quality end product. We communicate with our customers and stakeholders and take your feedback seriously. Our goal is to deliver a high-quality product that meets and exceeds your requirements and performs flawlessly for optimal user experience.
The professional software developers at TATEEDA pride ourselves on meeting and exceeding our clients’ expectations with quality user-friendly products. We use Agile methodology, making quality assurance an integral part of every stage of the SDLC. Our QA team can also test your existing software for performance, bugs and security. Contact us today to learn more about business software solutions from Tateeda.
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