The Importance of QA in a Successful Product Launch
While QA isn’t an unfamiliar term to most of us, it’s often something that takes a backseat to many other aspects of web and mobile app development. We sat down with Beth Hurter, our Director of QA & Business Analysis to see what insights she could share.
1. What role does QA play in the product launch process?
QA is instrumental to developing and launching a successful product. The QA team is responsible for ensuring that the development team stays within the guides of a planned process; all requirements identified as part of the product release are addressed and met; and the software is defect-free, or is released with an accepted list of known issues.
2. How important is QA when it comes to planning a product launch?
QA should be built in to all aspects of the product launch. They are instrumental in process improvement as well as defect management, security testing, accessibility testing, performance testing, and user acceptance testing. In an agile environment, the mantra is “test early and test often”. As such, QA should be included in the product plan as a critical team member.
3. At what point should QA be involved in the product launch process?
QA should be involved in the product launch process from the very beginning of the project. They are responsible for creating the test plans, test cases, and automated test scripts. Again, and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, test early and test often.
4. What should product teams do (or not do) to make the QA process easier/better/faster?
Include QA as an integral part of the team. QA should be reviewing User Stories with the Business Analysts as they are created to ensure they meet the “testable” criteria. They should be creating test cases prior to the start of the sprint to help facilitate test-driven design. They should be working side-by-side with the developers to test the new features developed each sprint, and should manage the deployment to the QA environment.
5. What are some of the lesser-known or discussed benefits of QA that clients often don’t think about?
– A solid QA strategy will result in quicker sign-off – the product meets the client’s requirements
– A quality mindset fostered by strong QA nurtures ongoing improvement
– The QA team will improve the customers’ confidence in your ability to launch a successful product.
– QA reduces the overall software life cycle cost – less maintenance
6. What types of hurdles do you see often as a member of the QA team?
The major hurdle we face is the tendency to cut the QA cycle for schedule or budgetary reasons. QA is often the first to be cut or underbid, since it is often viewed as simply a test of the software. Another hurdle is that management often wants to put the developers in charge of their own testing. Not a good idea. Ask any developer, and they will tell you that their code works! Finally, the main hurdle QA faces on a software development team is the “us vs. them” mentality. QA is not the enemy, they are key to delivering a quality product.
7. Are there specific challenges unique to a startup vs. mid-size vs. enterprise?
A startup typically struggles with getting as much done as quickly as possible with minimal funds. In this environment, QA is often overlooked or deferred in order to meet tight budget constraints, resulting in a less stable product. At the enterprise level, there is a tendency to let projects stagnate because of too much process. When this is the case, QA needs to revisit their processes to keep them streamlined, relevant, and nimble.
8. If there was one thing you could share with us about QA, what would it be?
QA is a process. It is integral to the full software development life cycle. It is not a test that is bolted on to the end of a development process. The longer you wait to fix a problem, the more expensive it is to correct.
9. How much time should we allocate for QA?
We typically like to have one QA resource for every 3-4 developers. If the project calls for automated regression testing, then additional resources would be needed for automation. When QA is integrated into the full development cycle, testing should be complete at the end of each sprint and the product should be stable as you approach product launch. We recommend a 3-4 week hardening period prior to product launch to provide sufficient bandwidth to address production issues.
10. How much does QA cost?
The better question is: What is to cost of not having a solid QA program? A solid QA program should result in lower maintenance costs over the entire product life cycle. There are many options for QA resources that keep it affordable.
Are you in the midst of launching a new product? Or maybe just getting to the strategy and planning phase? Either way, it’s never too late or too early to apply sound QA principles to ensure that you deliver the best product possible in a timely manner. If you’re looking for a mobile app partner to help guide you through the process, give us a shout.
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