Bugs are a nightmare to any software development team and even the smallest bug can cause tremendous problems to the software company. This is why software development teams are always particular about ensuring the software pushed to production is bug-free. The process of checking for bugs and rectifying them is called software testing.
In many companies, a completely different team called the Quality Assurance (QA) team is saddled with the responsibility of testing codes written by the software developers to find bugs. But you may be wondering. Why can’t developers test their own code? Why should there be a QA team that solely checks other peoples’ code?
In this article, we will answer these questions.
But first, it is important to note that software testing can be done both ways. On the one hand, the developers could be the ones to test their codes. This type of testing is called developer-based testing. On the other hand, it could be done by a QA personnel or team. This is called QA-based testing.
Let’s talk about the two types of testing and identify how they operate in the workplace. Then you can fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of both methods and find out whether the QA testers are really necessary or they can be dumped.
In developer-based testing, the developers are required to write test scripts for their codes and ensure they are bug-free before deploying into production. Over time, these have proven to be counterproductive for various reasons.
- Time wasting: Developers see it as a waste of time to painstakingly write new scripts to test the codes they have just written. It would be rather better to spend that time creating entirely new features than digging the codes they themselves just wrote for bugs.
- Unfamiliarity with all the application requirements: Developers work as a team. When developing an application, the tasks are split into different sections. Different individuals build different functionalities of the app. Once finished, the entire code is pieced together. In this case, it is impossible for a developer to have an in-depth understanding of every functionality and requirement. This deficiency will lead to a scenario where they would rarely find errors in the code.
- Software testing is a continuous task: Since software testing has to be done over and again, having to repeatedly write scripts for every new addition slows down the team development process and plunges productivity. Meanwhile, software developers are always reluctant to retest a code that has been tested before since they also need to build new functionalities. This creates a major deficiency in the software development life cycle.
- Software developers can be over-optimistic about their work: Imagine you are being asked to grade a mathematics exam you took some hours ago. Apart from the fact that there may be some bias in your grading, you may want to overlook some steps because you felt you definitely did the calculation right during the exam. This is exactly the case when a software developer is asked to test his code. There is some pre-imposed bias that the program is flawless and thus, they may not meticulously check the code.
In spite of these cons, developer-based testing can be beneficial. Initially, it may be time-consuming but in the long run, it saves time. This is because there is no back-and-forth tussle between any parties. They alone work on the coding and testing so it is a smoother approach in the by and by. There would be fewer release complications and incompatibility.
In QA-based testing, a separate group of people called the QA testers ensure the applications built by the developers are bug-free and fulfill the initial product requirements. In this case, the QA testers have a broader idea of the workings of the software as against individual developers where knowledge is streamlined.
QA testers have the skill-set and the luxury of time to carry out in-depth test cases again and again until the application is certified bug-free. With a birds-eye view, they peruse the codes with a fine-toothed comb, checking how the end-users would interact with the product. Basically, a QA tester brings a human perspective to the functionality of the product. They also provide test cases and plans that add to the documentation of the product and help customers maximize the product experience.
Testers go over and above, even beyond the developers’ imagination, to push the code functionality to extreme lengths and check scenarios that it was not initially intended to go. This may sound strange but humans generally do extreme things. It is much better for the QA team to catch a weird bug than the end-users to. Consequently, they unrepentantly try and fail, and try and fail and keep on trying until the code runs successfully given any use case.
Most times, however, the QA testing team works closely with the development team to ensure the product is in its best possible state. In cases where the QA team cannot rectify a problem, they return the product to the developers and point out the issues they found.
One downside to having a QA team is that it is an extra cost. In fact, a QA tester generally receives as much salary as the developer. This is why QA can be a lucrative career path and a good option for beginners would are looking to learn QA online. While having a QA testing team means additional costs for the company, it has been discovered that yanking them off the development lifecycle leads to increased customer complaints.
It can thus be concluded that having them is extremely vital.
A Sweet Spot Between Both Worlds
We have seen that both methods have pros and cons. The question then is, which is the best? In reality, both developers and testers are required to work together. Both the developers and QA testers should perform some test case scenarios for the code.
The sweet spot is the developers testing the code from the product functionality standpoint. Whereas, the QA testers test from a human standpoint – how the users may and will eventually use the product. This way, the product satisfies both the company’s requirements and the users’ needs. Answering the initial question, are QA testers really necessary? It is a yes. In fact, they are as important as the software developers themselves. If you are looking to begin a career in QA testing, you should consider enrolling in an online QA analytics course.