From Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering – What does it take?
Software product development comprises various practices including quality engineering (QE) and quality assurance (QA). While these two are associated with each other, they have significant differences when it comes to their approach and scope. It is therefore important to know what they are to understand how development teams can implement their respective approaches.
Quality engineering is mainly concerned with processes that can include quality assurance. It aims to integrate quality in the product lifecycle through creating and completing necessary processes. Meanwhile, quality assurance is part of quality engineering where advanced testing techniques are executed to detect defects that can ensure functional software. Let us first further discuss the difference between the two.
Difference between QA and QE
During QA, it makes sure that the product is of quality while QE drives its development alongside other processes. It should be noted, however, that software quality assurance includes the whole software development lifecycle where it encapsulates requirements collecting, software testing, coding, design, release management, and product launch. QA would verify that the final software meets the standard after checking all aspects that can recognize any bugs. This would then confirm the product quality. Although, in a fast-paced world, there is a need to release products quicker while maintaining their quality which paved the way for more demand for quality engineering. This method of software development is more agile with DevOps solutions which helps make the releases reach the market faster.
There is no planning time for the QA teams anymore as software testing is being utilized along with development procedure that ensures continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). Software quality engineering particularly carries well for DevOps, CI/CD, and agile development procedures while keeping high standards with quality strategies supervised by quality engineers.
Given the current landscape of software development, QA teams are required to think and work smart to quickly develop test plans as products continuously evolve. This also affects the overall QE roles, especially when checking the backend services which have become complex.
Trends that drive QE demand
The repositioning of QE from QA can be considered as a cultural shift among development teams that is driven by certain trends aside from DevOps. These also include intelligent automation, artificial intelligence, and the buildout of different digital applications. The concept of agile development has been taking the spotlight which pushes for smaller multiple releases rather than longer fewer ones that have significantly impacted the usual ways of testing.
Today indeed became a time when developers and engineers alike need to unlearn most of their previous knowledge. This has underscored the essence of continuous quality improvement where they need to adapt to the call of times where a consistent feedback loop is encouraged to anticipate what is to come.
QE Tools and Methodologies
It is crucial to have the proper tools for QE just like in every new system to ensure that the job gets done. Some of them alongside useful methodologies are as follows.
Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP).
This improves the communication between customers and supply chain management which effectively facilitates the changes in current products and processes. Developers can better gather and understand information about the requirements of their customers that can help them strategize how to meet them. Moreover, it can assist them in determining what works well in their products and what can be improved or removed.
Quality Management System (QMS).
This ensures that all product quality forms and other important documentation are in good order. This is one of the core tools that can support any organization to manage quality as it also indicates the objectives and those responsible for achieving them. It can be noted that the ISO 9000 family is among the most known standards in quality management.
Statistical Process Control (SPC).
Using this method would allow development teams to control and measure quality according to industry standards while taking advantage of the quality data from product measurement. Moreover, it determines the control and specification limits which would determine what needs to be fixed should the data go out of scope.
Certain quality tools would help overcome challenges per development stage. While there are more sophisticated tools available today, it would be best not to lose track of the fundamental ones. Some of them are the check sheet which stores data in real-time, a cause-and-effect diagram that identifies the responsible factors for a result, a histogram to categorize data, and a control chart that monitors processes. Knowing the basic tools would help developers explore the advanced ones with more ease.
Having a certified quality engineer would give more credibility to the organization and can better support the individual aim for greater heights in their career. They should first comprehend the complexity of quality systems and always have room for learning to look into new ways of quality engineering. The certification is granted depending on the educational qualifications and work experience. Those who are aiming to apply for one can take note that the American Society for Quality conducts the examinations twice a year.
These are only some of the approaches to moving from quality assurance to quality engineering. There would be more developments as the world evolves and requires a more efficient process in the realm of software development so it is imperative to stay on the lookout for new trends.
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