Ways to create an ideal QA environment for ensuring software quality

Sanjay Zalavadia VP of Client Services, Zephyr

Quality assurance professionals have a lot of pressure on their plates to perform well and catch as many errors as they possibly can. However, due to time and budget constraints, this isn't always possible, and a number of defects can make it into production, creating the need to patch holes and spend extra time and money to address the issue. Agile testing methodologies are changing the game by enabling QA teams to accomplish more and build a better project. Let's take a look at a few ways that you can create an ideal QA environment for ensuring software quality:

1. Set up servers

It's important for QA to create environments that will yield the best information and can be scaled up according to project demands. TechTarget contributor Jaideep Khanduja suggested having two separate servers devoted to testing purposes. One should contain an environment that's as close as possible to the customer's environment to be able to truly understand what the user will be seeing upon release. The other server should be used exclusively for testing and should be free of development. This could be helpful for exploratory testing needs as well as ensuring that items are fixed before they're integrated with the rest of the build.

This equipment will be essential to building in quality, so you'll want to configure it correctly and ensure that it meets your requirements. It should also be easy to scale up or down depending on needs at the time. Organizations can maximize their resource utilization and have peace of mind that they have the hardware to support all of their efforts.

2. Keep the user a priority

Since the customer is the one that will ultimately be using the product, it's integral that QA teams keep the needs and mindset of these individuals a priority throughout the app's lifecycle. With the server, teams should be making their testing environment as close to real world conditions as possible. However, teams must go a step further to fully think like the user. TechBeacon contributor Karim Fanadka suggested that teams should also create test accounts on production systems. This ensures that when a new version of the build is released, that no data-corrupting bugs emerge. If any issues are found, these are placed at the highest priority to address in the next patch.

A mix of manual testing and automation integration will be a significant benefit here. This way, any repetitive tests that must be run on a regular basis can be executed after any change is made to the application, while still enabling teams to do a deeper dive into the app from a user perspective. QA can gain a clearer picture of what a customer is seeing and can identify any deal breaking errors that the computer might miss.

3. Be self-governing

QA teams are likely used to being siloed off from other departments and usually having little time to carry out thorough testing activities. However, with agile operations, not only are teams encouraged to collaborate with developers and other groups, but they are also being empowered to govern themselves and make critical choices. TechTarget contributor John Scarpino noted that this separation can prevent changes to the software testing process to suit the deadlines and costs of other departments. QA can also remain unbiased in their testing efforts and ensure that the product is suitable for all users.

"In order to create outstanding products, these two entities must be able to work together while still maintaining a certain amount of exclusivity," Scarpino wrote. "Software quality analysis must concentrate on delivering consistent quality across the company, managing procedures, process, standards and policies; whereas software quality testers are responsible for ensuring the overall quality of the software products in terms of their functionality, security, infrastructure, and performance."

QA has become an integral part of software creation, but there must be efforts to establish an ideal environment for these professionals. By involving QA from the very start of a project, setting up the right tools and enabling teams to govern themselves, organizations will find an improvement in overall quality and the capabilities of their QA staff.

It's important to establish a solid QA environment for better quality apps.