The Value of Quality Assurance

A software bug is an error or fault in a program that causes a system to produce an incorrect or unexpected result. To provide some reassurance to you and to make things clear from the outset, let’s start off by saying this – it is almost impossible to build a software application without a bug occurring. A bug is, by definition, unexpected in that it produces an unexpected outcome. However, bugs are an expected, inevitable element of any project. With preparation and proper testing practices in place, the impact that bugs can have on a software application can be greatly reduced.  This is where the value of quality assurance and testing comes into play (learn more about ActionPoint’s testing protocols).

Why Do Bugs Occur?

There are many reasons why bugs occur in a software development project. The first is arguably the most straight-forward. Although the process of software development uses many tools and technologies, it is a human process involving engineers, architects and developers. Therefore, it is subject to human error. No matter how talented the development team, bugs caused by human error are an inevitable part of every software project. The complexity of the project also plays a role. The more complex a project, the more intrinsic the web of interconnected features, preconditions, processes and systems. This creates a hotbed upon which bugs are cultivated.

Ambiguity or misunderstanding around requirements can also lead to bugs in software. For an organisation embarking on a custom software development project, one of the biggest challenges is articulating what you want your software solution to do. These requirements can change over time and miscommunication can lead to bugs. Time pressures can amplify all the above factors. Time pressure puts a strain on communication, it can cause more incidents of human error occurring and deepens the complexity of a project. For all the above reasons, testing is critical, and a lack of testing can also increase the number of bugs.

Testing and the Benefits of Finding Bugs

There are many misconceptions about testing. Two of which we believe are very important to mention. The first is that the fact that you are testing, does not mean that you will find every single bug. To give an example, on your phone you have a number of different applications which you are asked to update from time to time. This could be anything from WhatsApp to YouTube. You might notice that most updates do not reveal new features or benefits but contain the description “fixing bugs and improvement”. This goes to show that testing is an ongoing, perpetual process. The second misconception is that testing is something that can be carried out by anyone. This is another fallacy as testing for bugs is a highly specialised skill in itself and should be carried out by a quality assurance professional.

Finding bugs when testing is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Improves the quality of the software application.
  • Catching bugs and resolving problems at an early stage of the SDLC is cheaper than finding them later at a later stage such as User Acceptance Testing or in Production.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Supports the software development process, allowing the dev team to focus attention on producing a world-class application.

Bugs – A Certain Level Reasonable and Expected

The purpose of this article is to encourage you to prioritise testing and ensure that when speaking with your software development partner, quality assurance is placed high on the agenda and that quality checkpoints are in place to identify bugs prior to go-live. However, it is also to remind you that a certain level of bugs is reasonable and expected, with robust defect management processes, the impact of bugs does not have to delay a custom software project.

What is considered an acceptable level of bugs will depend on the industry. In the fields of aviation and MedTech, the tolerance level can be quite low. However, for most industries, a certain level of bugs is unavoidable. For your software project, the most important thing is to endeavour to have a testing process and automation framework in place to capture critical and major bugs. At ActionPoint, we utilise an agile software development approach with continuous testing.

The most important thing to remember is that bugs are not a purely negative thing. When it comes to progressing your custom software development project and producing a world-class solution, bugs are a necessary evil.

Are you considering undertaking a custom software development project? ActionPoint has vast experience in helping organisations automate repeated business processes, breathe life into aging legacy applications, explore the internet of things or create custom software solutions that are completely out of the ordinary.

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