When software development and testing processes are not properly debugged, the company uses its own resources inefficiently. Developers are overloaded with testing, and testers do not notice bottlenecks in the product. The old functionality of the application falls apart when a new one is introduced. Product deployment is delayed due to the lack of automated testing. The chain of consequences of a poor-quality process may be wider, but the essence of the problems boils down to one. Due to the lame product quality, the development budget is growing, and the IT-company’s authority is falling. How to avoid this catastrophe? Apply for a Quality Assurance Audit to a team of experts. We tell you what this procedure is and how it is carried out.
QA audit process: a look at development and testing from the outside
It is difficult for a person ignorant of the subtleties of the testing craft to understand the difference between QA Audit and Quality Assurance. Both processes are aimed at minimizing errors in the product. But the goals and methods of their implementation are different.
Quality Assurance means conducting test activities to find defects in the app and eliminate them in a timely manner. The goal of Quality Assurance Audit is much broader. Firstly, the audit is entrusted only to highly qualified QA specialists (Senior, Department Head). Secondly, auditors analyze the software development process (including testing), looking for problems in it. They offer IT-companies a plan to improve work operations so that the team initially creates a quality product.
The result of QA Audit is an improved software development process in which the quality and compliance standards set by the customer or the application store are met. For example, Google Play or Apple Store will not publish an app if it does not meet the quality requirements.
During the QA Audit process, experts may find that teams use different bug tracking systems, which makes it difficult to work with tasks. Or they use different terms, building a “Babel tower”, complicating communication.
QA audit types: from product to employee professionalism
Quality Assurance Audit is an important part of an IT-company development. Audit helps to look at work processes from the outside, to improve them in order to increase teams effectiveness.
If an IT-firm has enough full-time employees to analyze the software development process, an internal audit is conducted. If there are no internal experts or the organization needs an objective view, it orders an external audit from a third party. In this way, the organization evaluates working procedures without distracting full-time employees from projects.
Regular internal and external Quality Assurance Audits are important in order to find and eliminate current problems in time. External audit is a good help for checking software for compliance with the laws adopted in the industry, eliminating legal problems.
Depending on the QA Audit object , separate types are allocated:
– system audits that analyze the work of several departments;
– conformity audit evaluates whether the quality management system complies with international standards (e.g. ISO 9001);
– compliance audit checks whether the software or product development complies with industry legislation;
– process audit determines whether requirements and specifications are met during software design;
– product audit is conducted when it is important to evaluate software quality and find bottlenecks;
– department audit affects the work evaluation of a particular department (e.g. the competence of employees, the need for their training).
The type, purpose and object of analysis may be different, but QA Audit types are aimed at analyzing the process or part of it, improving the team work.
3 steps how to conduct a Quality Assurance Audit
When the quality control process is difficult to scale, it is complicated for the team to switch to another development methodology or pass product certification. Then the customer applies for QA Audit Services. Regardless of whether the audit is conducted by an internal or outsourcing team, the Quality Assurance Audit process includes three main stages:
#1. Understand the current state of QA on the project
In order to identify gaps in software product quality or in the team’s work, auditors monitor the current state of affairs. The data on the project is analyzed: from project documentation to development methodology, management approach and frequency of releases.
The auditor evaluates the testing process: the adopted testing strategy, the provision of a test environment, the relevance of testing tools, the frequency and accuracy of reports. Thanks to a thorough analysis, it is possible to find out the root causes of problems and the risks associated with them.
For example, the Quality Assurance Analysis helped the audit company to determine how well the teamwork on the financial project was debugged. It turned out that the customer did not have a testing strategy, there was no bug tracking and test case management system, and regression tests were not conducted. The external QA team created a quality control process from scratch, updated the SDLC, configured the necessary tools (TestRail), and defined a testing strategy. As a result, the customer reduced user defects by 90%.
#2. Create a quality assurance audit plan
Auditors find out from the customer the desired level of Quality Assurance and create a plan to achieve it – the so-called “roadmap”. The stages of mature QA practices are taken as a basis, but they adapt to specific needs of a particular organization.
QA specialists prescribe the identified problems in the plan and prioritize their solutions. The restrictions preventing plan implementation are also indicated. Auditors identify the risks that may cause such changes, as well as recommendations for their elimination.
Auditors explain in detail how to evaluate the results of changes. The KPIs are taken as a basis, which were recorded during the previous Quality Assurance process:
- the number of detected defects in an iteration or module;
- percentage of critical defects;
- the number of rediscovered defects, their ratio to the total number of bugs;
- the number of user defects and other quality metrics.
#3. Support the implementation of changes in the company
When the improvement plan is ready, the auditor helps the customer’s team to accept the changes and implement them by performing fractional tactical tasks. Various changes may occur in the organization:
– new positions will be created to fill existing gaps (e.g. in terms of team management);
– communication between team members/departments will be improved: communication tools will be added, communication rules will be established (e.g. the frequency and type of team meetings);
– metrics will be implemented to assess team effectiveness;
– templates of documents (specifications, quality reports) will be updated;
– new quality assurance tools will be set up (e.g. test case management systems, bug tracking programs) and other activities.
Thus, the Quality Assurance Auditor company builds an effective working QA process so that the business creates better products/services and does not lose competitiveness in the market.
4 reasons to conduct a Quality Assurance Audit
The customer comes to the realization that he/she needs a Quality Assurance Audit plan when serious QA problems arise in the organization:
– the team does not have a testing strategy, and the quality of the QA process leaves much to be desired;
– specialists do not practice automated tests that can increase productivity when implemented correctly;
– working “the old-fashioned way”, it is difficult for teams to implement new flexible methodologies;
– 33% of projects lose their budget due to unstable testing environment, lengthy refinement and approval procedures;
– the product is unstable, and the number of defects increases like a snowball;
– development is delayed due to communication problems between team members.
Observation from the outside allows you to identify these gaps in the work of the team and rebuild it. This will minimize budget expenditure and avoid poor product quality. The QA audit process is important because the IT-firm receives the following benefits:
- Saves time and money
Audits find problems at every development stage. The earlier a defect is detected in the application, the easier it is to fix it. The sooner the QA leaders correct the development process, the fewer mistakes the employees will make. Fewer problems means less costs and less time to fix them.
- The team works more productively
Auditors evaluate the team’s performance during development. Experts identify candidate areas for modernization, and then track performance indicators. As a rule, the introduction of advanced methodologies, automation, and new tools leads to an increase in team productivity. The faster the team copes, the more likely it is to complete the project within the agreed time frame.
- Specialists receive up-to-date knowledge
An audit can also establish the professional level of full-time employees. Perhaps specialists need to refresh their knowledge on certain issues by taking advanced training courses. Having gained new knowledge, the team implements best practices in work, improving its quality.
- Standardizes processes
The development and performance standards proposed by the auditors can be applied to any company’s projects. Following standards will help teams maintain productivity and process quality.
Quality Assurance Audit should be an indispensable part of the project work. A thorough analysis of the team’s work and the quality of the product being created finds recurring problems from project to project. Elimination of these problems and optimization of work operations will improve team productivity and software product quality. Such improvements will be appreciated not only by customers of outsourcing services, but also by application users. Quality Assurance Audit plan will ensure the quality and speed of work – important indicators that guarantee business competitiveness.