SoftwareBY RabIT software engineering · May 27, 2020

Today, certain terms in software engineering often get confused with each other. A common example of this is Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software testing.

They might sound very similar and interchangeable at first, but these terms actually have their own separate meanings.

If you’ve had anything to do with IT projects, you have likely come across them already. If you’ve been following our blog, you also probably noticed that we spend a lot of time discussing software quality-related topics and issues. This is mainly because we believe that focusing on quality during development projects is more important than ever, considering the enormous competition between service providers.

This is why we’ve decided to clarify these topics, to give you an understanding of the areas you need to focus on to effectively achieve higher quality. Other reasons why we think software product quality is crucial:

  • Development tasks start to take longer to complete, bug fixes take up more and more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates.
  • Future development estimations become highly inaccurate and unreliable, turning project planning into a nightmare for your management team.
  • With a low-quality product that doesn’t sell or actually help customers, your chances for turning a profit drop significantly.
  • Poor source code quality can also negatively impact customers’ perception of your product, and the whole organization.

 

To introduce effective quality management practices into your own development processes, you must understand what the terminology represents, and what purpose each activity serves first.

So let’s jump into the topic of Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software Testing, starting with QA.

 

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance is a set of methods and activities to verify that the final software product gets developed in accordance with requirements and specifications. Its goal is to validate the quality and functionality of the software before release, and make sure that the final product provides the best possible user experience.

QA should be an essential part of the software development life cycle as a planned strategy that details the testing and evaluation processes in order to achieve high product quality.

Quality Assurance is a top-level strategy that works out ways to detect and eliminate possible bugs and errors in the software. Contrary to popular belief, its main focus is not on completing the operations-level testing activities. Rather, it is to establish management-related areas like development methodologies, issue resolution, project management and analysis, etc.

QA is process-oriented, not specifically product-oriented. It is about working out the methodology of preventing defects, engineering processes that help product development teams achieve quality in an effective and efficient way.

So, to summarize, Quality Assurance is not about identifying and fixing specific defects. It is a way to create processes that help your team identify and fix any upcoming issues and defects throughout the entire project lifecycle.

By the time you get to actual quality control and testing activities, you must already have a top-level QA strategy in place if you want to maintain project efficiency.

 

 

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Quality Control

Quality Control is the process of checking the degree of readiness of the software product to release and its compliance with the requirements. As a process, QC is a part of the wider Quality Assurance methodology.

It is about examining the actual results of development before release. So as opposed to QA, which works on the process level, Quality Control is product-oriented.

QC is done by comparing the developed results to what was expected in the original requirements documentation. The state of the source code itself also has to be examined and compared to programming standards, architectural documentation, security requirements, etc.

The findings from this process allow development managers to prepare necessary quality correction measures depending on the current stage of the project. In some cases, QC is also used to verify whether the best possible technical solutions, programming languages, frameworks and tools were used by the developers or not.

So, unlike QA, which is proactive, QC is reactive. Quality Control detects bugs by examining the product itself before it gets released. This basically means checking if the product meets the predetermined set of requirements.

 

Software Testing

Software Testing represents the operations-level activity of actually checking the software for errors and bugs. This can be done using various methods such as:

  • Usability testing – Checking if end users will be able to easily use and understand the software. Helps identify usability issues and improve user experience.
  • Compatibility testing – Verify that the software works perfectly on devices with various screen sizes, running different operating systems. In case of web applications, this includes testing cross-browser compatibility as well.
  • Functional testing – Checking whether the software works in accordance with feature specifications and business requirements.
  • Performance testing – Also includes load and stress testing. It means testing the robustness and stability of the software under extreme conditions.

So what is the main difference between Quality Control and Software Testing? So far they sound quite similar.

Software Testing represents the activity of running or executing a program with the intention of finding defects, while QC is a way of managing these defects. 

After identifying software defects, additional rounds of testing must be performed as well to check if they are fixed. Testing is absolutely crucial in making sure that the product reaches your customers with as few errors and bugs as possible.

Developers may interpret some requirements and functions in a different way than intended by the product owner. That’s why it is essential to have a software tester who can check if everything is functioning as required.

Testing has to be an integral part of software development throughout the entire project, performed by professionals with strong expertise in finding every possible user scenario to test each function thoroughly.

 

To summarize

By understanding the basic terminology of Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software Testing, you’ve made the first step towards achieving consistently high product quality. To summarize once again:

Quality Assurance represents the very top-level strategy, focused on establishing and optimizing necessary quality management processes.

Once this is established, it is up to Quality Control to examine the state of the actual product and provide a framework for the operations-level Software Testing activities.

Establishing effective Quality Assurance processes is a lengthy process that requires careful planning and a lot of optimization on the management side. For more information and guides about the topic, follow our blog or reach out to us and ask your questions directly.

 

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RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT software engineering · April 06, 2020

Significant advancements in cloud technology and automation over the past decade have led to the rise of new, disruptive outsourcing solutions. Remote personnel can now be more closely integrated into a company’s everyday work processes. Compared to traditional IT outsourcing, hiring a dedicated software development team is seen as more like a strategic partnership.

Apart from providing staff augmentation services, these teams also actively participate in making critical product-related decisions. Working with a dedicated software development team can feel like having your own remote IT department, with the added flexibility of an on-demand service.

However, reaching this level of efficiency requires careful planning, effective management and a lot of optimization.

The goal of this article is to guide you in building a high-functioning dedicated software development team and identifying ways to improve their efficiency.

 

Why should you consider hiring a dedicated software development team?

While cost optimization remains one of the main reasons for outsourcing, it’s no longer number one. Today, most businesses primarily hire dedicated software development teams to gain access to technical skills that are not available in-house.

When executed well, this can also provide competitive advantage by improving organizational operations, making them more agile, efficient and effective.

Other benefits of hiring dedicated teams are:

  • Faster, more cost-effective hiring process
  • Improves flexibility in use of resources – they can be scaled up or down quickly
  • Allows management to focus more on core business processes

 

1. THE SELECTION PROCESS

Of course, at the core of every development project there is the product itself. Before starting the search for a dedicated software development team, you must already have a clear, well-defined product vision.

Here we’re referring mostly market-related questions. You must define who the intended users are, what the software should do and for which platforms (and devices) you want to develop it.

One of the greatest benefits of working with a dedicated team is that they can contribute to the project from the early planning stages, well before the actual development work begins. They can help you make key technical decisions related to software architecture, features and user stories, and then plan the development process accordingly. This is especially useful if you don’t have any in-house technical expertise.

When selecting your dedicated software development team, keep in mind that you aren’t simply looking for a service provider, but rather a strategic partner. Apart from having the necessary technical skills and experience, they must communicate exceptionally well, and be open to work with you in a completely transparent manner.

This means giving you full insight into their processes and a clear understanding of the ongoing work at all times. Without this, you wouldn’t be able to keep control over the project, and it could easily lose direction over the long term.

 

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When making a decision, collect all relevant information such as team size, composition and seniority, technical knowledge, project history etc., from at least 3-5 vendors. When this is done, evaluate them based on the following criteria:

  • How they communicate – language skills, response time, detail and clarity of information.
  • Have they successfully completed projects with the same level of complexity?
  • Do they have developers with the required level of seniority and technical knowledge?
  • Since we’re talking about long-term cooperation, do they also have a system for expanding their knowledge pool and incorporating new innovations?
  • Do they have effective project management quality assurance processes in place?
  • What did their previous clients say about them? Try to find third-party verified reviews from sites like Clutch.co, or ask if you can speak to any of their former clients directly.

 

2. DEVELOPMENT METHODOLOGY

There is no such thing as a perfect, one-size-fits all development methodology for all teams and all industries. The recommendations in this section are based on our own experience and preferences.

We usually recommend using an Agile methodology based on Scrum or Kanban. We prefer these as opposed to the traditional waterfall methodology because they allow us to include development partners much more closely into the development process. Thanks to regular meetings and product demonstrations, they are constantly able to provide feedback about the completed work, making sure that project stays on track.

Scrum is a project management framework that breaks up longer development processes into two-week periods (or sprints). After completing each sprint, the progress is demonstrated to the product owner, who can then give feedback and make adjustments to the project if necessary.

Close communication and constant inclusion of the client makes the project much more likely to stay on course and deliver positive results.

 

dedicated project manager scrum board

Scrum board example

 

Unlike Scrum, the Kanban approach is not iterative, so it allows the software to be developed in one large development cycle. This cycle has no predefined end point. The software requirements get broken up into smaller work items, which then enter the development process in a prioritized order.

A work item is not allowed to move on to the next phase until some capacity opens up ahead. This approach is more useful if fixed timeframes aren’t sustainable for the project.

 

dedicated project manager kanban board

Kanban board example

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all methodology. Copy-pasting the Agile manifesto for your team won’t be an ideal solution.

This is why we only recommend it as an outline for your process. It will be up to you and your partner to optimize each aspect of the methodology to fit your organization and in-house team composition as much as possible.

What we do is optimize every aspect of the development process to the needs of each individual client. Everything from frequency and channels of communication, team size, composition, monthly work hours, issue tracking and reporting and much more can all be customized to fit unique organizational requirements. Because of its flexibility and iterative nature, this is called an Adaptive Agile methodology.

 

3. SETTING UP THE INFRASTRUCTURE

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, recent innovations in cloud technology provided developers with some essential new tools for working together from different locations. There are many available solutions for communication, issue tracking and version control that can greatly improve development speed and efficiency.

Which tools your team uses will depend on specific project requirements and personal preferences as well. From our own experience, we recommend choosing from the following solutions:

1. Communication & presentations

  • Skype – For daily updates, group calls and live demos
  • Slack – Dedicated channels where development teams and the client can discuss project-related issues
  • Hangouts – Group video calls, video meetings
  • TeamViewer – Great for screen sharing during live demos

 

2. Issue tracking – tools for managing and maintaining a list of issues (or tasks). We use these to manage tasks during development sprints. We also give access to clients to help them oversee what’s happening with their project. Issue trackers are absolutely key to keeping the development process efficient.

  • Jira
  • Asana
  • Trello

 

3. Version control – tools that allow teams to track changes to a set of documents. They are an essential part of every software development project, where a team of people concurrently make changes to the same files over a long period of time.

  • GitHub – one of the world’s largest software development platforms that provides hosting for software version control using Git.
  • GitLab – popular web-based DevOps lifecycle tool that provides a Git-repository manager providing wiki, issue-tracking and CI/CD pipeline features.
  • BitBucket – also web-based version control repository hosting service for source code and development projects that use either Mercurial or Git revision control systems.

 

4. Other tools

  • Atlassian Confluence – an enterprise knowledge management system that is used to help teams prepare and share software documentation (setup guide, technical details, etc.) efficiently.
  • Jenkins – a CI/CD tool (Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery) that helps automate building, testing, and deployment, to allow continuous integration and delivery during software development projects.

 

4. QUALITY ASSURANCE

Quality assurance plays a very crucial role in the process of software development. It saves money and time by spotting bugs and errors early in the software development life-cycle.

Software that is newly developed may have inconsistencies, redundancies, and flaws; therefore, we think that proper QA should be mandatory. Software testing ensures that the product a company is developing meets all requirements, truly provides value to end users and has a long lifespan.

When hiring a dedicated software development team, make sure they have quality assurance processes in place to perform at least the following types of tests:

  • Usability testing – Checking if end users will be able to easily use and understand the software. Helps identify usability issues and improve user experience.
  • Compatibility testing – Verifying that the software works perfectly on devices with various screen sizes, running different operating systems. In case of web applications, this includes testing cross-browser compatibility as well.
  • Functional testing – Checking whether the software works in accordance with feature specifications and business requirements.
  • Performance testing – Also known as load and stress testing. It means testing the robustness and stability of the software under extreme conditions.

We recommend that quality assurance should be done by at least one person on each team. Before committing new features, their functionality and effect on already existing features should be thoroughly tested in a safe environment.

If done properly, this will greatly improve software quality throughout the software’s entire life cycle.

 

dedicated software development team composition

Example of our own dedicated software development team composition

 

5. CODE REVIEWS

Code review is also a kind of quality assurance activity, where a software developer checks an already written source code for errors and bugs. Apart from manual code reviews, there are also a lot of automated tools available for static and dynamic code analysis.

We also consider code reviews to be an essential part of every development project. The work of each developer on the team should be reviewed by a senior colleague. This is especially important for junior developers, but everyone else’s work should also be reviewed by at least one other expert.

Here are some commonly used code review methods:

  • Over-the-shoulder reviews – When the author writes a code and simply calls the reviewer over to have a look at it.
  • Pair-programming – Two developers write code together at the same workstation.
  • Tool-assisted code review – Reviewers and authors use specialized tools designed for code review. The tools are used for collecting metrics, transmitting and displaying files, commentary, collecting files etc.
  • Email pass-around reviews – Most open-source projects used to prefer this form of code review. Here, the author emails complete files to reviewers. Reviewers then examine the files and suggest changes. It is rarely used today, mainly as an alternative if tool-assisted code review isn’t an option.

In our own development processes, every line of code must pass peer review before being committed. This might seem like a lot of extra work beforehand, but it actually saves clients a considerable amount of time and money in the long run. If the code is clean and low on errors, new features can be developed much faster. It also decreases time is spent on fixing errors later, because most of them were already discovered during reviews.

Throughout our work we’ve encountered many software projects that were struggling to move forward because the code base had gotten so unstable that it was difficult, or straight up impossible to develop further. In a few cases, more than 12 months worth of development investment would have resulted in an unusable product without intervention.

You can read about our approach to code reviews in much more detail in our earlier article:
Why Source Code Quality Is Crucial in Software Product Development

 

TO SUMMARIZE

As opposed to traditional outsourcing, dedicated software development teams can serve as integrated product development partners. If managed properly, they can work closely with you to deliver top-notch digital products while also helping to make your entire organization more agile, flexible and efficient.

From selecting a qualified team, all the way to managing development and quality assurance processes, they should be seen as a strategic partner, instead of simply as a service provider.

Your management team must work together with them to optimize work processes, just like they would with an internal IT department. This should include everything from development and project management methodologies, all the quality assurance and code reviews.

Building an effective cooperation with a capable dedicated software development team can provide ways for your organization to constantly innovate and gain a competitive edge while also reaping the benefits of traditional outsourcing.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT software engineering · March 30, 2020

With the rapidly growing popularity of digital entrepreneurship and business process digitization, demand for software products is at an all time high.

Due to the accelerating demand, global competition, as well as other factors like the increased use of outsourcing, low development costs and faster time-to-market are quickly becoming top priorities over product quality.

 

“Why should I care?” you might ask.

If you are planning to, or already in the process of developing a software product, ignoring the quality side of the process can easily lead to wasting the entire development budget and severely hurting your business.

Throughout our work we’ve encountered many software projects that were struggling to move forward because the code base had gotten so unstable that it was difficult, or straight up impossible to develop further. In a few cases, more than 12 months worth of development investment would have resulted in an unusable product without intervention.

 

The goal of this article is to highlight the importance of maintaining high source code quality throughout the software product life cycle. We will talk about the possible effects of low-quality code on your project (and entire business) and list effective ways to ensure high product quality.

 

 

What does high source code quality mean?

To avoid being vague, first let us try to elaborate on what we mean by high source code quality.

High quality code means that your source code must perform well with regard to the following:

  • Optimization – The code is written in an optimized structure, meaning that it’s not overly complicated and convoluted.
  • Readability – The source code is easy to follow, standards of indentation and formatting are met, so that the code and its structure are clearly visible.
  • Maintainability – Signifies the efficiency by which the code base can be understood, repaired, or enhanced.
  • Compatibility – The software’s ability to properly run on all intended devices and operating systems.
  • Security – The code base is continuously being checked for vulnerabilities like malicious code that can be discovered and exploited by outside parties.
  • Understandability – The code is easy to understand for new developers in the future for increased time-efficiency.
  • Documentation – All-inclusive and up-to-date source code documentation is written throughout the project.

 

 

What does low-quality code look like?

Now that we’ve established what high source code quality actually means, you probably have an idea about what poor code looks like. If a code base is lacking in the qualities listed above, it is considered low quality.

To be more specific, low-quality source code:

  • is written in an unnecessarily complicated structure,
  • is difficult to read and understand for developers,
  • is difficult (and expensive) to maintain and develop further,
  • has compatibility issues with different devices and operating systems,
  • has easily exploitable vulnerabilities,
  • is poorly documented.

 

In our opinion, it’s a bad idea to wait to check the quality of your product’s source code before live release. By that point, fixing these issues becomes much more expensive and time-consuming than it should be.

This is why source code should be written following high quality standards in the first place. We talk about ways to achieve this in the sections below.

 

How does poor source code quality affect a project or business?

Technical debt is “a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.”

It’s pretty much the software development term for sweeping issues under the rug that you’ll have to deal with later. Constantly choosing the easy way out has real consequences for long-term projects. Too much technical debt can eventually cripple the development process entirely.

Technical debt has to be “paid” sooner or later. Even if you change development teams mid-way, the new team will have to deal with the extra work left behind by their predecessors.

Simply ignoring mandatory periodical maintenance and refactoring tasks also creates a lot of technical debt during long projects.

 

technical debt source code quality

Dilbert by Scott Adams

 

The symptoms of low-quality code only start to appear in later project stages, by the time software features are getting more complex. This only makes them more dangerous.

If developers don’t review the source code frequently, by the time they notice something’s wrong, it’s usually too late. Development tasks start to take longer to complete, bug fixes take up more and more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates.

Spaghetti code causes even more headache if there is a decent amount of fluctuation in your development team. New developers will have trouble understanding the code base and it will take weeks until they can effectively contribute to developing it further.

Poor code quality also makes it impossible to predict how long it takes to add new elements without breaking others. This causes future development estimations to become highly inaccurate as well.

 

From a business perspective, software product development is an investment from which you expect a return – so just like any other. This return can come in the form of revenues if we’re talking about an SaaS solution, or cost savings and increased efficiency if we’re talking about software for internal, organizational use.

However, with a low-quality product that doesn’t sell, or effectively improve internal processes, your chances for a return drop significantly. In more severe cases, if the final product doesn’t reach live release at all, the development project can be considered a complete loss. This can mean multiple tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pointless spending, which can be crippling for most businesses.

If you can’t maintain an acceptable level of code quality, the “best case” scenario is that you’ll eventually get a working product, but at a much higher total investment cost.

Poor source code quality can also negatively impact customers’ perception of your product, and the whole organization. If a new release receives overly negative reviews from early users, it will take a lot of time and effort to win them over. While experience shows this isn’t impossible, it’s still better to prevent a fire from starting than having to put it out!

 

How can you ensure high code quality?

If you don’t have the necessary technical knowledge, it will be difficult for you to assess code quality without help from the development team. You’ll most likely only notice client-side issues related to speed, device compatibility and others directly affecting the user experience.

A good practice is to ask for frequent reports from the development team (sprint reports, release reports, etc.). These reports must contain the key project and code quality indicators. If you don’t have a technical background, ask the team to explain these indicators as many times as necessary.

If you still need help evaluating them, you can hire a third-party consultant who could even check the source code if necessary. If this is not an option, however, the development team must introduce their own quality assurance and code review processes for quality management.

 

Quality assurance

Quality assurance, or QA should be an essential part of the software development life cycle. Its goal is to validate the quality and functionality of the software before release, and make sure that the final product provides the best possible user experience.

Note: QA focuses on testing the quality and functionality of new product versions, not the source code directly.

However, quality assurance still plays an important role in detecting bugs and errors in the software before it gets released.

 

Here are a few widely-used types of quality assurance:

  • Usability testing – Checking if end users will be able to easily use and understand the software. Helps identify usability issues and improve user experience.
  • Compatibility testing – Verify that the software works perfectly on devices with various screen sizes, running different operating systems. In case of web applications, this includes testing cross-browser compatibility as well.
  • Functional testing – Checking whether the software works in accordance with feature specifications and business requirements.
  • Performance testing – Also known as load and stress testing. It means testing the robustness and stability of the software under extreme conditions.
  • Security testing – Systematically checking the software for exploitable vulnerabilities. Today there’s a whole separate field in IT specializing in security testing called Ethical Hacking.

 

Code review & analysis

Code review is also a kind of quality assurance activity, where a software developer checks if the written source code complies with coding conventions and style standards. It is also used to examine whether the best possible technical solution was used by the developers or not.

Apart from manual code reviews, there are also a lot of automated tools available for static and dynamic code analysis.

Code review is a process by which developers review each other’s source code. The two roles present in a peer code review are:

  • The author: the person responsible for developing the code being reviewed.
  • The reviewer: the person who is responsible for examining the code.

 

Some commonly used code review methods:

  • Over-the-shoulder reviews – When the author writes a code and simply calls the reviewer over to have a look at it.
  • Pair-programming – Two developers write code together at the same workstation.
  • Tool-assisted code review – Reviewers and authors use specialized tools designed for code review. The tools are used for collecting metrics, transmitting and displaying files, commentary, collecting files etc.
  • Email pass-around reviews – Most open-source projects used to prefer this form of code review. Here, the author emails complete files to reviewers. Reviewers then examine the files and suggest changes. It is rarely used today, mainly as an alternative if tool-assisted code review isn’t an option.

 

Apart from improved source code quality, code reviews also make it easier to train new development team members. In the long run, they lead to the team having a more consistent coding style overall, improving the whole development process as well.

For both larger and smaller code bases, your team will likely have to use automated code analysis tools as well. The difference between static and dynamic code analysis is already in their names.

Static code analysis tools examine the source code without executing it. Dynamic analysis is conducted while the code, or a part/unit of it (for example unit or integration testing) is being run. Code analysis tools help developers save a huge amount of time on fixing errors by identifying them in a matter of seconds.

 

Our own team mainly uses these code analysis tools:

  • Checkstyle – a static code analysis tool used in software development for checking if Java source code complies with coding rules.
  • StyleCop – a static code analysis tool from Microsoft that checks C# code for conformance to StyleCop’s recommended coding styles and a subset of Microsoft’s .NET Framework Design Guidelines.
  • PMD – or Programming Mistake Detector is an open source static source code analyzer that reports on issues found within application code.
  • CPD – or Copy/Paste Detector is PMD’s duplicate code detection for (e.g.) Java, JSP, C, C++, ColdFusion, PHP and JavaScript code.
  • ESLint – a static code analysis tool for identifying problematic patterns found in JavaScript code.
  • TSlint – static analysis tool that checks TypeScript code for readability, maintainability, and functionality errors.
  • ReSharper – a group of products that provides a series of features for Visual Studio developers including code analysis, refactoring, navigation, test runner, build runner, etc.
  • JUnit – a unit testing framework for Java often used in test-driven development
  • JaCoCo – an open-source toolkit for measuring and reporting Java code coverage.

For version control:

  • GitHub – one of the world’s largest software development platforms that provides hosting for software version control using Git.
  • GitLab – a web-based DevOps lifecycle tool that provides a Git-repository manager providing wiki, issue-tracking and CI/CD pipeline features.
  • Bitbucket – also web-based version control repository hosting service for source code and development projects that use either Mercurial or Git revision control systems.

 

So what should the development methodology look like?

There is no such thing as a perfect, one-size-fits all development methodology for all teams and all industries. The recommendations in this section are based on our own experience and preferences.

Note: While the main topic of this article is code quality, these development methodologies also focus on assuring the overall quality of the finished product.

We recommend using an Agile methodology based on Scrum or Kanban. Scrum in particular can be very beneficial for product owners to keep a close eye on the project’s progress. Frequent communication and product demos allow you to have a good overview of the newly completed features and even test them yourself.

This methodology also helps your team break down large and complex projects into smaller, more manageable chunks called sprints. These are 2 weeks long by default, and they contain a previously agreed-upon set of user stories and development tasks.

 

dedicated project manager scrum board

Scrum board example

 

As for team composition, QA experts and senior code reviewers should be integral parts of both small and larger teams. We also recommend to regularly include less experienced developers as code reviewers for training purposes. In these cases they must still be assisted by a senior colleague.

If you have to coordinate the work of multiple parties, a dedicated project manager can also be a valuable addition to the crew.

Here is an example of our own team’s composition for most projects:

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all methodology. Copy-pasting the Agile manifesto for your team won’t be an ideal solution.

This is why we only recommend it as an outline for your process. It will be up to you and your team to optimize each aspect of the methodology to fit your organization and in-house team composition as much as possible.

We also do this sprint after sprint with our own clients, which is why we recommend it to others. For example, it might not make sense for a small team to hold daily stand-up meetings, if team members are working really closely together and they already know what everyone is working on at all times.

In these cases, it might be better to organize a single, longer weekly team meeting instead. It should also be examined whether sprint planning and retrospective meetings work effectively in their standard forms, or if they could be organized in a better way.

Most other aspects of this methodology can be optimized in similar ways as well.

 

To Summarize

While low code quality is rarely among the leading agenda during product management meetings, it is an increasingly important topic for businesses that rely on custom-built software to grow.

Apart from drastically increasing development costs and time – hurting profit margins -, low source code quality also negatively impacts customer satisfaction.

When it comes to software products, you only have a few seconds to form a positive first impression with users. If their first experience with your product is slow, clunky, or results in a crash or any kind of bad experience, you will need to invest a lot of time and effort to better their opinions.

Instead of having to put out the fires, prevent them by integrating coding standards, quality assurance and code review into your development process as early as possible. While it may just seem like extra work early on, it will most definitely save you a lot of headache and resources in the long run.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

WebBY RabIT software engineering · September 18, 2018

Today we are all users of many different software products, websites and applications. We all know the frustration of trying to stumble through poorly designed, clunky user interfaces. We also how easily they can make us rage-quit them after the first few tries. From these experiences we all know why usability testing is important, but to understand the whole process, we need to start right from the beginning.

Usability testing involves observing and recording the behavior of test subjects who are assigned to complete a set of tasks on your app, website, or other software product. The testing helps you to know whether your site works and how to improve it.

 

There are some elements involved in the usability testing process. These are:

Participant: The participant will perform the activities for which you want to test your software.
Usability tester:  The job of the usability tester is to explain the participants their role and the tasks they have to complete during the test, and pay them when they finish their task.
Shared screen:  Screen sharing software can make the test much more effective. You can easily include the product team into the usability test without stressing the participant. Further, executives will get to know how users see the product or company website.
Recording software: With recording software, you can record the test and analyze it later. It allows the usability tester to focus more on the testing process.
Pre-written usability testing script: It helps you walk the participants through the test smoothly.

 

Make the usability test process as time- and cost-efficient as you can by planning each step of the process in detail. Keep in mind that a detailed script will help the tester to effectively explain the tasks and process to the participant. Most importantly, users should know that they are not being tested, you are testing the software.

The usability tester should not influence the user’s actions in any way. They have to solve their problems and find the solutions on their own. The main work of the usability tester is to provide information about the tasks and the usability testing process. He or she should encourage the participants to actively share their opinions and thoughts. Participants need to be vocal about their thoughts.

Know that the participants may feel frustrated when they are not able to find the solutions right away. When the users reach a level of frustration where they want to leave your website and search elsewhere for solutions, your site fails the test.

Have a meeting with the responsible team after the usability test. Based on the results of the usability test, choose the top three problems that need to be addressed. You need to resolve these issues this month and after one month, repeat the complete process.

 

why usability testing is important

 

Is there a difference between usability testing and user testing?

Sometimes, usability testing is confused with user testing. Usability testing and user testing are two different approaches to reaching different goals. User testing involves interviewing your target audience to determine market demand for your service or product.

Usability testing is also different from focus group testing. In focus group testing, you learn about the experiences and opinions of a group of users regarding your website or product.

Usability testing, on the other hand, is more about seeing if users can understand or use your website or product with common sense. You can choose anyone to be a test subject who views your website with a fresh eye and provide useful information about ease of use. Beginning usability testing with your family members and friends is a good way to get a new and fresh perspective.

 

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Tools for Usability Testing

Usability testing tools are essential to the success of your website. Here are some tools that can help you conduct usability tests.

Optimizely

This A/B testing platform allows users to track visits as well as conversions. Optimizely offers many features such as visitor segmentation, mobile website testing, multivariate testing, and cross-browser testing. The basic plan is free of cost. However, if you want some extra features, you need to pay for them.

 

Crazy Egg

You can use the tool for 30 days as a free trial, and after that, you have to pay $9 per month. Crazy Egg offers a number of features such as heatmap, scrollmap, confetti, and overlay.

The Heatmap allows you to see where each visitor has clicked on your website. With Scrollmap, you will get to know how far down on the web page a user has scrolled. The Confetti gives you valuable insights regarding visitor sources, search terms etc. The Overlay helps you to know the number of clicks each element on your web page is getting.

 

Five Second Test

UsabilityHub operates this tool. Five Second Test captures a visitor’s first impression of the site. You can run a test in seconds. The process is easy and includes

1. Uploading a mock-up of the web page or uploading a screenshot with a question about the design or functionality included.

2. Five seconds are given to testers to view the web page. After that, they are required to answer the question given.

3. The responses of the testers are then compared.

The paid plans cost about $20 per month.

 

 

Now that you have a clear understanding about why usability testing is important, you can make the first steps to integrate it into your development process. There is no such thing as too early to start usability testing. Be it your new website, blog, mobile app, or custom software, it is always recommended to collect first-hand information about the way the end user sees your platforms as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading!

Other ways to collect early user feedback for your product: Which Type of MVP is Right For Your Business

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT software engineering · July 18, 2018

Today, the importance of a dedicated quality assurance tester often gets overlooked by project managers and clients alike, seeing them as an option rather than a requirement. Quality assurance testing plays a very crucial role in the process of software development. It saves money and time by spotting bugs and errors early in the software development life-cycle.

Software that is newly developed may have inconsistencies, redundancies, and flaws; therefore, proper QA testing is mandatory. The testing ensures that the software product a company is developing meets all requirements, truly provides value to end users and has a long lifespan.

 

Role of a Quality Assurance Tester

QA testers communicate and build relationships with stakeholders, clients, database administrators, project managers, and developers. They help connect everything together and ensure smooth product development.

Quality assurance testers perform tuning, testing, and debugging. They use tools to find the flaws and errors and create a plan for manual testing, working very closely with the development and product teams. They can work independently or as part of a team.

We wrote about improving communication between QA testers and the development team in an Agile setting in last week’s article.

 

why is a quality assurance tester needed on a software development team

 

Skills of a Quality Assurance Tester

  • They are experts in verbal and written communication, finding solutions to complex issues, logic and reasoning, documentation and time management.
  • They have a good experience in software development and quality assurance.
  • They are aware of the ongoing technological trends and recent advancements.
  • They have an excellent knowledge of QA processes, tools, and methodologies.

 

Technical Skills of a Quality Assurance Tester

  • Create methods and procedures to identify the quality of a product
  • Determine enhancement areas
  • Perform risk analysis
  • Understand technical and business objectives
  • Review user interface for consistency
  • Research new testing processes and technologies

 

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Common misconceptions and why they are wrong

Here are two common misconceptions that we come across, and people actually believe in:

1. The developer should deliver error-free work
2. The software testing should be done solely by developers

Both of these notions are absolutely wrong.

Proficient developers can create code with no or little error. However, they cannot visualize every user scenario. The software testers, on the other hand, hold a strong expertise in finding every possible user scenario to test every function satisfactorily. Developers interpret some requirements and functions in a different way than the client. That’s why it is essential to have a quality assurance tester who can check if everything is functioning as required.

QA testing takes a lot of time to complete, and software developers have to devote a huge amount of time to test a software product properly. Individuals who are experienced in software testing can complete the testing process fast. A quality assurance tester, who possesses exceptional testing skills, can identify the errors and bugs with ease. Moreover, software testers charge less than software developers for their service.

Delivery of a raw software product can upset the client. If they want to avoid this, companies and organizations absolutely need to view software testing as an essential element of the software development life-cycle. These people should be deeply involved in every stage of the development process.

 

quality assurance tester meme

 

To truly understand what is wrong with these misguided ideas, let’s see how they would look in some traditional industries:

Example #1 – Imagine the auto production industry without dedicated quality assurance testers. The automotive industry simply could not work without QA because any resulting functional errors can cause serious injuries to customers. Assembly workers also cannot perform their task flawlessly and assure the quality of the product simultaneously.

Example #2 – Articles that are published in a newspaper also go through many rounds of reviews first. If these articles were published without reviewing and editing, they would be full of grammatical errors, typos, or unreliable information. It is not easy for authors to find their own mistakes in writing. They work to the best of their knowledge.

It works the same way in software development. To ensure quality in the work process and the product, the role of a quality assurance tester is vital in the software product development life-cycle.

 

If you would like to find out more about ways to integrate QA testing into your software development life-cycle more efficiently, feel free to ask your questions at info@rabit.hu, or ask for a free consultation through our website.

RabIT software engineering

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.