Monday May 7, 2012
Have you ever wondered whether there is actually a difference between Software Testing and Software Quality Assurance? Are these just two names to the same concept? Well, this blog attempts to answer your question and help you understand whether these two are synonyms, or actually indicate different areas in the area of quality.
Software Quality Assurance is a systematic and planned approach to identifying, defining and modifying set of processes that can help one attain an error-free end product. Now that the processes are in place, implementing these processes and making them a reality to deliver an error-free end product is what testing is about.
While Software Quality Assurance talks about creating and implementing methods and procedures to improve the overall development cycle; software testing concentrates on verifying and validating the product to discover bugs and locate defects.
The Fine Line
There is this distinct difference between quality assurance and testing which one needs to understand. Executing test cases and raising defects does not mean quality assurance is in place. It just means that testing is being done and attempts are being made to discover and fix as many bugs as possible in the product.
For Quality Assurance to become a part of the project, standards that the project will follow to deliver a high quality product need to be defined. Proper metrics must be defined to measure the quality of processes that will be followed by the project members to develop the product.
It’s a ‘name’ thing
Sometimes, in some projects, Software Quality Assurance and Software Testing may be used interchangeably. There is nothing wrong in this. As long as the processes, activities and steps to ensure quality are clearly defined and specified, nomenclature doesn't really matter.
There can be an overlap between quality assurance and testing in projects, especially small scale ones. Testing might provide important quality related information about the product, but quality assurance is what uses this information to improve the quality related processes. In some projects, an external Quality Assurance might be engaged to conduct an audit of the quality related processes.
In short, Testing concentrates on the end product while Quality Assurance concentrate on the process.
There might be instances when testing is given a higher priority than Quality Assurance. This may be acceptable as sometimes when time and resources are a constraint, getting things done is more important than waiting for quality related procedures and standards to be in place. However, in the longer run, Quality Assurance must be incorporated since continuous improvement and overall success depend on it.
Thus, the ultimate aim of Quality Assurance and Testing is to deliver an error-free product that meets its functional and non-functional requirements. Consequently, efforts must also be put to improvise quality by learning from experience and with the help of a proper feedback loop.
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