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A Deep Dive into the Five Meanings of QA


"QA" has several meanings. The most known is "Quality Assurance," referring to maintaining and improving the quality of products. A "Quality Analyzer" is necessary to create a quality strategy, because it's difficult to make things better without detailed information. Good quality is not built solely by quality specialists like QA engineers or testers, so a "Quality Advocate" enthusiastically helps professionals with the non-specialist view of quality. To achieve better quality, everyone in the team should play their own role, and the Quality Advocate is the center of the circle. However, once the product is ready to be tested, the "Quick Attacker" starts with the high-priority tests. Sooner or later, they will find the serious defects, which can take more time to fix than other bugs. The earlier these failures are found, the more feasible it becomes to release the product. This is an art that only testing professionals can execute. Finally, in every step of the software development life cycle, the "Question Asker" achieves splendid results. No person is perfect, nor is any product. Repeatedly asking simple questions is the best way to find bugs hidden behind our view. 




A Deep Dive into the 5 Meanings of QA

A QA engineer is responsible for ensuring the quality of software products. While his or her main task tends to be testing based on documents, the essence of the role necessitates many other things related to quality. Let's take a look at the 5 meanings of "QA."


Quality Assurance

"Quality Assurance" is what most people think of when they hear "QA" - it's the role responsible for maintaining and improving quality of the products. Testing operations are their speciality to provide value to the organization with their deep understanding of products. The scripted test, which requires test design documents to be prepared in advance and is carried out step-by-step, is one of the tasks expected of QA engineers. In many cases, progressing test automation is also an important part of QA. Some QA can write test automation code, and others utilize sophisticated no-code tools. In both cases, designing for test automation is so essential that an experienced QA engineer must lead it. 


Quality Analyzer

It's too difficult to make things better without details. We can say the same thing about quality. A "Quality Analyzer" provides the detailed information to be applied to designing better tests and give some hints for quality improvement. Though there are many things to be analyzed, the requirements should be the first focus, not testing. Focusing on quality is crucial not only in the latter half of the software development process; on the contrary, the early phase is more important that you may think. Research, including the book by Capers Jones, shows that the earlier you find bugs, the easier and cheaper it is to fix them. High-quality requirements, which contain the user story or security standards and so on, has huge value. Using some metrics and communicating with business analysts, the Quality Analyzer can make well-stated requirements to show the team what the product should be. Testers often need enough test basis to design their testing, to improve coverage vand find serious bugs. Remarkable Quality Analyzers are essential for the testing process. 


Quality Advocate

Quality is not limited to professionals of the quality field. A "Quality Advocate" can help quality specialists with the non-specialist view. For better quality, everyone in a team should play their own role, and the Quality Advocate is at the center of the circle. In today's rapidly changing business environment, too much specialization can be a drawback. Quality experts alone cannot alone cannot achieve high-quality products and services. To improve the code, developers have to consider the architecture of the codebase and write code that is tested enough. To design qualified products, product managers should write requirements or the user stories that contain the quality standards to show how they can be met. Expanding the topic to the quality of people or organization, the team leader or manager should create a comfortable team environment. Team management can be said as one of the quality-related activities because the high-quality outcomes are not provided by bad organizations whose people are demotivated or take fraudulent actions. It's true that Quality Advocate is a special quality supporter, but its mindset should be shared with everyone in the team. If your organization doesn't have a Quality Advocate, having communication about testing and quality within the team may be your first step towards better quality.


Quick Attacker

Let's come back to the quality specialists. Once the product is ready to be tested, the "Quick Attacker" starts with the test of highest priority. Sooner or later, they find the serious defects, which can take longer time to fix than other bugs. If these tricky failures are found earlier, the possibility of releasing the product on time increases. Only professionals can do this art. Moreover, some testing experts have ample intuition and experience of defects, so their exploratory testings can be seen as the work of a master. The skills of the proficient testers are very valuable and the team should learn a lot by working with them.


Question Asker

Throughout every step of the software development life cycle, one must act as the "Question Asker." As Gerald Weinberg reminds us, there is no perfect product because no person is perfect. Asking simple questions is the best way to realistically attain a high-quality product for users,. Queries are powerful tools that can find bugs hidden from view. Asking questions requires curiosity, which some people may find hard to apply to their job. However, it's important to consider why customers use your products. Undoubtedly, this is because customers are full of curiosity. Beyond any testing skills, curiosity is essential to making products high-quality.


What kind of "QA" is needed?

To assure quality, there are lots of things to be done. A QA engineer is an expert who must utilize a range of skills depending on the situation, as discussed above. It's very helpful if you clarify what kind of "QA" you are or you need in the project. Dad jokes often express the truth of the world and QA is no exception.



Mark Ward

Written by Mark Ward

Mark Ward, or Masanori Kawarada, is QA Brain, Global Quality Evangelist, translator, author, etc. His speciality is the software quality and utilizes knowledge learned in MBA journey. He loves to visit the international conferences around the world.