Software testing falls under the umbrella of software quality management, alongside quality control and quality assurance. Software quality management is an area of development that seeks to ensure software meets criteria and performs as intended without flaws.
Software testing is essentially one of the tools that enables software houses to ensure quality control. By trying to find bugs or errors in software, the team can then report these back to developers, who will then fix the product, raising its quality. Software testers also check the software’s functional aspects are fit for purpose.
Functional and non-functional aspects of software
There are two basic levels that determine software quality: functional and non-functional. Functional aspects correspond to the design requirements of a product. For instance, a stock counting software might require a barcode reader, or a notification function that automatically alerts you when stock is low. Non-functional aspects correspond to the structure and architecture of software. This includes how well the code is organised and annotated, maintainability, and security.
Software quality management looks to check the functional features of the software. These tend to represent the external features of the software, which the end-user will be in direct contact with.
What’s the difference between quality assurance, quality control and software testing?
Quality assurance, also known as QA testing, is a broad discipline that involves mapping out procedures and processes, anticipating issues and taking proactive measures to prevent errors from being introduced into the software, as it is being written. QA testing focuses more on the processes around software production, attempting to keep standards to a high level throughout creation.
Quality control is a process that looks at whether a product can meet its functional requirements, once the product has been created (and after quality assurance measures), but prior to release. Quality control attempts to reactively identify and fix defects within the software, seeking out bugs and verifying the product fulfils its criteria and is fit for purpose.
Software testing is an essential part of quality control, which aims to uncover defects within the software code before the product is released or presented to the client. Software testers will attempt to ‘break’ the software through automated and manual tests, checking that no bugs arise and that the software can be used in the manner intended.
What is quality software testing?
Quality software testing refers to the purpose of software testing – to improve the quality of the finished product. It’s an amalgamation of the terms ‘quality control’ and ‘software testing’, which are closely linked within the software quality management chain. Because the two areas are so inextricably linked, some companies just speak in terms of quality assurance and quality control, with the understanding software testing is an integral part of the latter. ‘Quality software testing’ is a similar demarcation, albeit one that puts greater emphasis on the testing part of the process.
How to improve the quality of software testing
A strong software testing strategy can literally mean the difference between project success or failure, so it’s important to make sure testing is a key consideration throughout the development process. Below are some suggestions for how to ensure the quality of your software testing activity remains high.
Early incorporation: One of the main ways to improve software testing is to enable testing teams to get in early. Stuck at the end of the chain, testers often suffer with time constraints, which affects the breadth of activity they are able to perform. This can snowball, particularly in the early stages where small issues can become embedded if not rooted out early.
While trying to ensure projects run on schedule is a given, it’s worth also trying to work out whether separate parts of the project can be isolated. This will allow them to move into the testing pipeline sooner, helping streamline production.
Emphasis on prevention: While software testing is essential, it’s a reactive rather than a proactive activity. The best way to improve the quality of software testing is to have fewer errors in the pot, and that starts with solid quality assurance methods. Testing can also be incorporated more closely into quality assurance, testing as each new feature is applied, to catch bugs as quickly as possible.
Integrate automation wherever possible: Software testing has a raft of automated tests which can help ferret out issues, but automation doesn’t need to end there. Project management systems can be enriched with automation, helping cut down manual admin and leaving testers more time for testing. Additionally, automated notifications based on task triggers can help ensure communication is clear, timely and comprehensive.