Why is QA an integral part of software development?

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In the software development world, even the best developers make errors. To put things into perspective, the delivered code contains 15-50 errors per 1000 ines of code on average. And we can’t forget that the development process keeps getting more complex and expensive. For example, Photoshop 1, released in 1990, contained approximately 100,000 lines of code. Photoshop CS6, released 22 years later, had 4.5 million lines of code. With such an increase in complexity, you can only expect that software has become more prone to errors and bugs.

What’s the difference between QA, QC, and testing?

Before we dive deeper, let’s establish the correct terminology first. When talking about quality management, we often use three terms: quality assurance, quality control, and testing. These are often used interchangeably, but it’s an incorrect usage.

QA or Quality Assurance is the broadest term of the three. QA is focused on processes and procedures to create an effective quality management system within an organization. QA is preventive in its nature and permeates all stages of the development process.

QC or Quality Control is a subset of QA. QC is a reactive process and focuses more on identifying and fixing errors. The goal of QC is to verify that the product meets the criteria. Unlike QA, QC occurs only during the testing stage of the product development and is carried out by a dedicated testing team.

Testing is a specific activity within the QC. The goal of testing is to detect and solve specific issues within the software code. Testing is done during the testing stage and ensures that the end product is secure, has good usability and performance.

What are the benefits of QA?

The whole notion of having a bug-free code may be a bit intangible, so let’s add some dimension to it.

QA helps to save money and time

In August 2012, Knight Capital Group deployed a new update of their software. The update contained a bug, which initially went unnoticed. However, this bug was in all news in a few hours, and the company lost $460 million. Ultimately, this error pushed them out of business as another company acquired Knight Capital.

It is rare for a bug to be that dramatic, but uncaught errors in your software have the potential to cost your company a lot of money and time. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you catch a bug, the cheaper it is to fix it. If it remains unresolved for a more extended period, it can create dependencies and new bugs, making it much more expensive to fix.

QA preserves the reputation of a company

Boeing 737 MAX was supposed to become one of the most used planes in civil aviation and bring its manufacturer millions of dollars. But the plane’s software contained a number of fatal bugs, which led to several incidents, including two crashes. As a result, Boeing Commercial Airplanes lost billions of dollars and took a severe reputational hit.

Bugs in software cost not only money. Severe ones can lead to major public relations disasters, lost customers, long-term brand damage, and more. A proper QA process in place can save your company from many of these troubles.

QA prevents security vulnerabilities

In 2014, a critical bug was discovered in a popular OpenSSL library. The Heartbleed bug, as it was named, affected tens of thousands of websites. The extent of damage is unknown, but the scale of the spread of this vulnerability is shocking.

Since then, we have witnessed many more security vulnerabilities being exploited by malicious individuals. The need for secure applications has become vital, and it’s among the top priorities for several customers. A security breach could be a nightmare for your business—a nightmare easily preventable by a suitable QA procedure in place.

QA keeps your customers happy

Delivering a stable, reliable product that meets all the requirements is what guarantees your customers happiness. At the same time, a severe bug can totally ruin the experience for new customers and force the existing ones to switch over to your competitors’ products. Fortunately, an established QA can help you to deliver an exceptional experience to your customers, so they keep using your product for years to come.

As you can see, a good Quality Assurance in place won’t make a lot of money on its own. However, it’s a critical process that helps you avoid losing a lot of money. When you have everything in place, QA enables you to deliver robust, reliable, and secure applications that fulfill all your clients’ needs.