Today, when the development sphere has gone way beyond traditional software, most IT practitioners are aware of the value a quality assurance (QA) team can bring to their product.
Just a few years ago, this wasn’t the case, as far fewer companies engaged in quality assurance practices. It wasn’t uncommon for developers to ask, “Why is quality control important?”, or “Why do we need a QA team?” While these views are less commonly held today, quality assurance as a practice is still vastly undervalued in many organizations.
Leaders who define QA teams as the group that “just tests software” fail to realize the true goals and responsibility of quality assurance as a practice. In this article, we’ll explore why QA is important and matters for successful business outcomes.
Can you ensure the quality of a product without quality assurance?
From a budget standpoint, it might seem reasonable to ask your software developers to test their own code. Why bother about a dedicated QA team when you can cut costs and deliver the product to the market faster? There are some successful examples of teams that operate without quality assurance, like Facebook or Yahoo. However, such practice suits enterprises with highly evolved team cultures and require a significant amount of test automation.
By limiting testing activities or moving them lower on the list of your priorities, you might be missing out on ways to improve your application. Also, the bugs may not only mar the user experience, but severely compromise your product reputation and stability. The aforementioned tech giants are also not immune to these pitfalls. Below are a few well-known incidents caused by plain oversight of those responsible for quality control:
- Starting with the one from 2016 you might’ve heard of: Concerning Yahoo, when hackers leaked 500 million credentials due to a software security breach.
- Often called “history’s worst software bug,” a miscalculation in the software of a radiotherapy device caused the radiation dosage to go 100x higher than it was intended. Needless to say, the consequences were disastrous.
- Another error involving lack of quality control caused a commercial flight crash back in 2015. Airbus confirmed that a serious assembly control issue was the cause of the tragedy.
- Let’s finish with an example from the finance sphere from 1996, when a First National Bank of Chicago system error at a major U.S. bank credited $920 million to 823 clients’ accounts. The bank was quick to get the entire amount of money back, but can every financial institution be this lucky next time?
Below, we will explore the purpose of quality assurance and the main benefits of including QA in the product development process in detail.
The importance of a QA team
As stated in Wikipedia’s quality assurance definition, it’s “a way of preventing mistakes or defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers.” There’s more to QA than this, after all.