“Test. You mean ‘test’.”
“You said, ‘I need you to you QA a bug…’, but you meant, when I ‘test’ a bug. ‘QA’ is not a verb. QA is a department. It’s an environment, it’s a set of systems and processes…but it’s not a verb.”
Yes, I am a dyed-in-the-wool, true believer that Quality Assurance can and should add value that goes far beyond just testing.
It is a common misnomer that QA and testing are one and the same. However, though they are inextricably linked, testing and QA produce very different results:
- Testing produces data
- QA produces ever-increasing quality while reducing time-to-market achieved through controlled, replicable, continually improving systems
Testing is a critical action that the QA team performs each and every day. Testing shows us when our technology is ready for release to the wild. Testing is how we validate code, challenge hardware, and find previously undiscovered crevices. But no matter how thorough, well-intentioned, or perfectly focused, testing does not, in and of itself, create quality.
Testing gathers data; data through which we can make informed decisions. Those decisions and our resulting actions are how we work to assure quality. Testing is critical, but it is reactionary. It is vital, but it is only one of the many processes we practice within Quality Assurance.
What is QA?
- Quality Assurance is testing and measuring
- Quality Assurance is analyzing and reporting
- Quality Assurance is continuous learning and improving
- Quality Assurance allows proactivity and prevention
- Quality Assurance is writing tests, establishing standards, and holding true to them regardless of circumstance
Quality Assurance, when executed properly, is a set of systems, methods, and processes, which allow us to create superior products and services more efficiently and effectively. Quality Assurance establishes a baseline standard of what is acceptable and works daily to raise that baseline.
QA teams work cross functionally to establish uniformity and standardization wherever it is lacking. We document our tests in a reviewable and repeatable format. We employ automation strategies designed to increase our test coverage while freeing time for exploratory testing, UX review and feedback, end user simulation, and just overall “how could this thing be better?” focus.
We establish metrics for success, systematize a uniform approach, and build scalable test solutions. When positioned most effectively, QA uses foresight, honed through hard-won experience, to identify challenges so that we may adapt before they fully materialize. It is a goal of ours to bring this proactivity to every project and initiative.
By establishing transparent, systemic, replicable, and controlled, measurable processes, we create an ever-improving quality baseline – this improvement, in turn, creates options. These options enable speed and flexibility without sacrificing quality. In these systems, prevention becomes possible.
As QA brings all of these methods to bear, we provide the opportunity to truly Assure the Quality of what we do. We can see it, challenge it, learn from it, and improve. That is what is at the heart of Quality Assurance – proactivity, prevention, continuous improvement. We care, deeply. Every QA Professional has to, it’s part of our make-up; it’s why we’re here.
So, next time you need testing or to know the status of some project, please remember:
QA: It’s a noun…