In larger projects, the discipline of Quality Assurance is necessary. It comprises of several roles including Software Quality Assurance Engineer (SQAE), Software Quality Analyst, and Process Consultant. Software quality assurance is frequently confused with software testing; the main difference between the two is that although software testing is critical to reducing errors, it often does not address the root cause of errors. Software quality assurance addresses the processes that cause the errors.
The focus of this article is the SQAE role whose job it is to monitor every phase and process of the entire application lifecycle to ensure build quality. This is achieved by ensuring compliance with industry standards such as CMMI, ISO 9000 or any other industry specific standard that applies to the customers area of business. On the face of it, you would think that this would be reassuring to the customer. However this is often not the case, as customers can be wary of the additional expenses of QA – but before looking into the reasons of this, and how to get the customer on your side, we should have a quick overview of the importance of the role of QA Test Engineer, and how their role is valuable to convincing the client.
What Does a QA Test Engineer Actually do?
Typically the discipline is organised into:
Lets focus at the last two:
- Verifications – More meetings, in this case to evaluate various project aspects including requirements documentation, plans, code, specifications. Basically, the entire project is scrutinized and this period is best portrayed by numerous checklists ensuring the project is to standard.
- Validation – Typically follows verification and includes a period of testing.
IV + V is a common term used to describe these last two, Verification and Validation. The additional letter I stands for Independent.
The role of QA Test Engineer is akin to a scientist in that they deal with objective facts, regardless of whether it paints the team in a positive or negative light. The point is to address the problems and fix them. Herein lies the disconnect between the developer and the customer – the keyword here is trust or rather distrust from the customers side. After all, there is seemingly a conflict of interest here. The developers need to protect their profit, and therefore the impartiality of the QA team is understandably questioned by the customer. In most cases, the QA Team works for the developer, NOT the customer.
Steps Worth Considering to Reassure the Customer
- Ensure the customer understands the role of QA and reassure them of the independence of the QA Team. If this is insufficient, then the next point might be necessary.
- Allow the customer to outsource QA to a third party to ensure independence, or alternatively allow the customer to hire a QA Test Engineer directly.
- Encourage the customer to be more hands on – more involved if they are hands off. Engaging the customer in the process builds trust, as it enables the customer to give you feedback frequently.
- Perhaps the most cost-effective step to be taken is to review internal transparency measures to allow the customer to access the entire project.
Complete Transparency with Advanced ALM software
Advanced ALM software such as codeBeamer ALM provides complete transparency throughout the entire application development lifecycle. When used, one of the most reassuring measures to be taken is to provide an overview to the customer of codeBeamer ALM’s functionality, demonstrating and then providing unrestricted access to the project. Of particular value is ensuring participation in the collection of Demand throughout the organization, ensuring they understand both the Management processes and Requirements Management processes. If the customer is actively engaged during this phase and has access to the project with codeBeamer’s feedback mechanisms, that provides a rock solid foundation of trust.
Why not try codeBeamer ALM for free! The free license is for 1 project and 25 users, perfect for a test project across multiple departments and to provide a user account for your customer – it is free to use for an entire year.