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3 Strategies to Improve Software Quality

24 April, 2024 | Post by

The SQA2 Blog: General, Software Quality

Microsoft CEO famously said, “Every Company is Now a Software Company.” With this new reality, the need to create new features or update existing software to stay ahead of the competition means that software development teams are constantly under deadline pressure. Unfortunately, that pressure sometimes makes it tempting to rush through the quality assurance (QA) process to quickly get products and updates out the door, which, at times, through failures and bugs, become famous headlines. 

The harsh reality is that neglecting quality assurance will inevitably lead to more bugs, unhappy customers, and wasted time and resources as teams scramble to fix issues in the later cycles of software development and even after a product launch.

However, all of this can be avoided if companies prioritize quality assurance in the early stages of software development.

Here are three key strategies to improve software quality and why focusing on quality at the early stages of development is essential. 

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Shift left to improve software quality

One of the best strategies to improve software quality is to adopt a “shift left” approach to software quality assurance, that is, by preventing defects through software quality efforts closer to the beginning of the development lifecycle rather than fixing bugs later. 

An article in the CIO magazine states, “Analysts report that as many as 71 percent of software projects that fail do so because of poor requirements management, making it the single biggest reason for project failure—bigger than bad technology, missed deadlines or change management fiascoes.” George Nunez, CEO of SQA², says that most software bugs are due to miscommunication, misunderstanding, or incorrect interpretations of requirements and that preventing them at the early stages of development is critical to efficient software development. 

“By establishing a quality assurance effort upfront—simply by shifting the QA team to early parts of the development lifecycle—requirements bugs can be prevented at the early and lowest-cost stages of a development effort rather than found further down the development cycle, where they are more costly to fix,” George Nunez said. 

Shifting quality assurance to earlier stages of projects not only requires a shift in a development team’s mindset but also in practice by working with QA professionals to review and understand project requirements in parallel with the development team and to implement quality from the onset. 

Strive for a Zero-Defect Goal

Having a “Zero-Defect Goal” goes hand in hand with shifting QA to the front of the software development cycle. To do this effectively, development teams must have a mindset that it is possible for there to be zero defects. It should not be the goal of the QA team to find defects; instead, they should partner up with the development team so that there are zero defects in the product. A simple strategy is for the QA team to develop their test cases as early as possible and then share those test cases with both the product and development teams. The product team is able to confirm that the requirements were properly interpreted by their quality advocates. The development team basically gets the “answers to the test.” Everyone wants the development team to get 100% success through the test cycle and thereby find zero defects because they were prevented.

However, some teams have misconceptions about software quality testing. 

“One misconception is counting the number of defects that the QA team found as a mark of successful efforts of the QA team – “The more defects found, the more successful the QA team.” The reality is that defects found are an indictment of the QA team for not working with the development and product team to prevent them in the first place.” George noted.

George said that while most people on development teams care about software quality assurance, it can still inevitably fall by the wayside. “The reality is people are pressured by time, scope, and budget constraints, and when quality is not their primary focus, quality inevitably suffers.” Nothing is more cringe-worthy than hearing a team state that the development team will do their own testing, but that is a topic for a different blog.

Reduce reworks to save

Reworking features or updates because bugs weren’t found at the beginning stages can cost companies significant money. Some estimates show that the budget to fix bugs increases by 10X with every new stage of product development. When too many reworks occur, costs go up.

“The greatest consequence is causing the project to go over budget,” George said. 

However, there are other negative consequences when a product isn’t up to par. 

“Overall, not prioritizing quality assurance in software development can have far-reaching consequences that affect not only the software itself but also the company’s reputation, financial performance, and ability to compete in the marketplace,” George added.

In the ultra-competitive applications market, high-quality software can be a key differentiator, George said. 

How to prioritize software quality assurance 

The right quality assurance processes help companies avoid reworks, keep budgets in line, and deliver products on time. But where’s the best place to begin? 

Working with the right QA partner is a great first step. For example, SQA2‘s services can give software teams QA training to prevent defects rather than find them, help them build QA automation processes to reduce regression cycles and assist companies in creating world-class QA teams. 

With SQA2, software development teams have a partner who can work alongside their teams and help them make quality assurance a priority instead of an afterthought. 

Contact us to learn how SQA2‘s services can help improve your team’s quality assurance. 

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