QA Process: A Complete Guide to QA Stages, Steps, & Tools

Quality Assurance is the term given to all the efforts put towards achieving the aim of maintaining the quality of the product being delivered. This guide talks about the different aspects of QA processes, including their stages and involvement of test automation.
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Quality Assurance (QA) is a critical aspect of software development that ensures the delivery of high-quality products that meet customer expectations. A well-defined software QA process helps identify and prevent defects, enhances customer satisfaction, reduces risks and costs, and improves overall product quality. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the key stages, steps, and tools involved in the QA process.

What is QA Process?

Quality assurance in software development aims to identify and prevent any potential issues that may occur throughout the entire project. It includes project management as QA tests involve various individuals.

QA process is implemented by a dedicated team of QA Engineers (QAs), Test Lead, and Test Manager. The ultimate aim of Quality Assurance Engineers (QAs) is to ensure that the company delivers an error-free and high-quality product that provides the best possible user experience.

How is it Different From Quality Control?

Quality control (QC) involves testing the final product to identify and resolve issues before it is released to the market. Implementing an effective QA process enhances team collaboration, shortens development time, and reduces costs. Although the specific stages of the QA process may vary among companies, the core stages remain the same. Now that you have a better understanding of the QA process let’s explore its main stages.

What are the Main Stages in the QA Process?

The main stages in the quality assurance process typically include the following,

QA Process

1. Analyze the Requirements

The QAs must understand and analyze the project requirements, including functional and non-functional aspects. Fixing a bug at the early stages of development will cost less when compared to fixing a bug at the testing/production stage.

That is why QAs must be involved in the initial stages of requirement analysis so they understand the requirements clearly and design the tests accordingly.

2. Plan the Tests

Now, the information gathered in the requirements analysis phase will be used for test planning. The test plan includes the testing strategy, scope, project budget, and deadlines. Also, it should include information about the required types and levels of testing and the testing tools. And when the test plan is ready, the test manager will allocate responsibilities to individual testers.

3. Design the Tests

Now, the QA teams create test cases and checklists based on the software requirements. Each test case includes conditions, data, and steps to validate functionality. Testers compare actual results with expected results to ensure accuracy.

If automation is part of the test scope, this is the stage where automation testing scenarios are created.

Also, the testing team should prepare the staging environment for test execution in this stage. The staging environment should closely resemble the production environment, including hardware, software, network configurations, databases, and system settings. It helps ensure accurate testing conditions.

4. Execute Tests and Report Defects

Tests begin with developers conducting unit tests at the individual code component level. Following that, the QA testing team carries out tests at the API and UI levels. Manual tests are conducted based on pre-designed test cases. All identified bugs will be recorded in a defect-tracking system for efficient management. Moreover, test automation engineers can utilize automated test tools like Testsigma to execute test scripts and generate detailed test reports.



5. Run Re-Tests and Regression Tests

After bugs have been identified, reported, and resolved, QA will again re-test the functions to ensure thorough validation and ensure they didn’t miss any user scenario. Additionally, they perform regression tests to confirm that the fixes haven’t caused any negative impact on the existing functionalities.

6. Run Release Tests

After developers notify about a release, the QA team identifies the affected functionalities. They create new test suites to cover the changes. The team also conducts smoke tests to check stability. If the tests pass, they run the modified test suites and generate a report.

Test Automation as a Part of the QA Process

Test automation is an integral part of the Quality Assurance process that involves using test automation tools and scripts to execute test cases and validate the functionality and quality of an application. Also, automation can be applied at different levels of testing.

It is particularly useful for regression testing, which involves checking modified software to find new defects. Further, it is also effective for load and performance testing.

Although it requires an initial investment in automated tools, there are scenarios when it is more cost-effective and efficient in the long term than manual testing.

Approaches

Manual Testing

Manual testing involves human testers executing test cases and generating test reports. It is suitable for small test projects and can identify issues that may be missed in automated tests. Manual testing does not require advanced scripting knowledge and is relatively easy to perform. However, it can be time-consuming for large projects and is prone to human errors.

Automated Testing

Automation testing, on the other hand, is performed using automation testing tools. Here, test engineers create and write test scripts to test the application. It simulates user experiences, and test scripts can be reused multiple times.

Automation testing is beneficial for large projects but lacks the human touch and may overlook errors beyond its programmed scope. That is why exploratory testing is preferred, in which testers will think outside of the box to think of scenarios that might have been missed during automation testing.

Combining manual and automated testing yields good results. QA professionals need to evaluate and decide which approach to use for each project based on its specific requirements and considerations. But automation offers a ton of benefits when compared to manual testing, like reusable test scripts, easy parallel testing, less test execution time, fast testing, and more. Let’s discuss this further in the below sections.

Read here – Types of QA Testing.

Why Should QA Processes Be Implemented?

The QA process is crucial for several reasons. In this section, we will discuss the benefits of implementing a QA process and also the risk of not implementing a QA process.

Risks of Not Implementing a QA Process

The quality assurance (QA) process is a systematic activity performed by software testers to assess whether a product meets specific quality requirements. Neglecting the proper QA process can have detrimental effects on product quality, including:

  1. Dissatisfied Users: Software defects can drive away users and result in dissatisfaction, leading to decreased customer loyalty.
  2. Reputation Damage: A high number of negative reviews can harm your reputation and impact your brand image.
  3. Trust Issues: Poor product quality can erode trust among users and potential investors, causing potential difficulties.
  4. Sales Impact: Insufficient product quality can undermine sales efforts as new customers discover that the product doesn’t meet their needs, causing them to leave.
  5. Compatibility Problems: Introducing new updates may cause existing features to stop working properly.
  6. Distraction and Delays: Quality issues divert the team’s focus, with developers spending time fixing bugs instead of implementing new features and enhancements.
  7. Lack of QA Involvement: When dedicated professionals do not adequately carry out the QA process, there is a higher risk of overlooking critical quality aspects.
  8. Deployment Challenges: Quality issues can hinder the smooth deployment of new features to production, as the development team must first address existing defects.

It is crucial to prioritize the QA process to mitigate these risks and ensure a high-quality product that meets user expectations and drives customer satisfaction.

Benefits of Implementing a QA Process

On the other hand, implementing a well-organized QA process can significantly benefit your business. It enhances the quality of your product, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally:

  1. Your team can dedicate more time to enhancing the product and introducing new features.
  2. Satisfied users are less likely to raise complaints, reducing the workload on the customer support team.
  3. High product quality reduces concerns about potential failures.
  4. A proper QA process helps minimize project costs since preventing defects is more cost-effective than fixing them later on.

Tools Required for Quality Assurance Testing

There are various tools available that can aid in the QA testing process. The specific tools required may vary depending on the nature of the project, the technologies involved, and the QA objectives. Here are some commonly used automation testing tools that help speed up the entire testing process.

1. Testsigma

Testsigma is a robust cloud-based low-code test automation tool that lets you create and write test steps using NLPs (Natural Language Processing). That is, QAs can automate even complex workflows as plain English statements.For example, if you want to open a website, you can just use the NLP and create the test step as “Navigate to www.testsigma.com

Testsigma

Automate all your web, mobile, and desktop apps and APIs in one place. Testsigma is available as open-source and enterprise-ready versions. You can automate different types of testing using this one tool, including,

Now let’s discuss the top features of Testsigma that will benefit the QAs to automate testing.

Features

  • Make your testing process 5x faster
  • Supports Java for testing scenarios that might require coding
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface
  • Supports both script-based and scriptless testing
  • Perfect for both technical and non-technical users, as no coding knowledge is required
  • Provides a record-and-playback feature
  • Automate all your functional tests in one place
  • Built-in test case review management features
  • Easily create/edit/delete test steps
  • Provides a Chrome extension called Testsigma Recorder to record test steps on the go as you use the website.
Testsigma Recorder

  • Supports over 3000+ real devices and 1000+ browser/OS combinations for cross-browser and responsive testing.
  • Works across different browsers and platforms.
  • Integrates easily with various CI/CD tools and other third-party applications.

Testsigma offers a forever free version which is best for startups and small businesses. Further, Testsigma offers a Pro plan which is perfect for medium to large businesses, and you can use it for free using the 30-day trial.



2. Selenium

Selenium is an open-source automation testing tool that allows users to test web applications. It is a code-based testing tool that allows you to create test scripts using multiple programming languages.

Selenium

Features

  • Supports multiple programming languages – Java, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, C#, R, Groovy, Scala, and Python.
  • Supports multiple browsers and platforms.
  • Selenium locators make it easy to identify and use web elements for testing
  • Selenium WebDriver allows faster automation testing.
  • Handles multiple dynamic web elements with ease
  • It is portable and compatible
  • Supports cross-browser testing of web applications. You can not test mobile apps with Selenium.

3. Katalon

Katalon is another reputable test automation tool that supports web and mobile app testing. It offers record & playback to create automation test cases.

Katalon

Features

  • Automate web service testing as well
  • It is a free tool but not open-source
  • Supports Groovy for code-based testing
  • Easily integrates with Jira, Jenkins, Git, etc.

Summary

The QA process is critical to ensure the quality and reliability of software applications. It not only enhances the overall quality of the product but also brings significant business benefits. It allows teams to focus on product improvements and implementing new features, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. The QA process is not a one-time effort but a continuous endeavor. Adapting and evolving the QA process based on feedback, best practices, and the latest techniques will help you stay at the forefront of quality assurance in software development.

Frequently Asked Questions