How To Improve Software Quality

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She is a member of the Growth team at Paperform. Outside of work, Rebecca can be found exploring the outdoors or with a book in hand. Rebecca’s background in copywriting and keen interest in SEO and digital marketing mean she understands the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends in a dynamic and ever changing industry.

Much of what you do as a software developer revolves around software quality. To put it simply, software quality refers to how well the final product matches your goals. It determines the reliability, maintainability, testability, and functionality of your software before launching.
Overlooking software quality is like preparing subpar dishes for a five-star restaurant. Just like a chef who commits to the highest gourmet standards, developers must also provide the best for their audience. Apart from that, ensuring high quality is tied to the bottom line. Will anyone bother to purchase your software if it isn’t user-friendly and intuitive?
You are investing time and money on a software project, and you’d do well to maximize these resources towards improving the quality of your product until it’s ripe enough to sell on the market. Let’s fill you in on how to do exactly that:

Test early and often

When it comes to improving the quality of your software, you need to know what it is you want to improve in the first place. The only way to do that is through software testing.

The goal of software testing is to identify and resolve errors that can affect the stability and reliability of the product. Lacking an effective testing strategy will result in software that’s prone to bugs, vulnerable to cyber attacks, and unusable.

Customers don’t like any of that in a product, so it’s important that you use the functional and non-functional methodologies for testing your software:

Functional Testing:

This involves testing the software to see if certain features function as you intended. Through functional testing, each component is evaluated to make sure they align with your requirements and project metrics. This is known as unit testing.

After that, developers run integrated testing in which software modules are grouped together and tested under specific environments. This is to ensure that different components work cohesively and function the way they’re designed.

Next to integrated testing, the software is tested as a whole to ensure that all components function harmoniously as a single system. The last leg would be acceptance testing which determines if the software is ready for the market.

Non-functional testing:

While functional testing involves accessing the software based on specific features, non-functional testing focuses on operational parameters. The software is tested for its usability, reliability, and compatibility with other platforms or software during a non-functional test.

Apart from these, non-functional testing also involves determining a software’s maximum workload and responsiveness. If you want to focus more on improving customer satisfaction, non-functional testing is critical to that end.

Taken together, both functional and nonfunctional methodologies can help you iron out issues prior to launching. It’s always a good rule of thumb to test the software early and frequently.

This would mean testing the product in every phase of the development process. This can be eased up with the help of automated testing tools.

Implement quality controls

While used interchangeably with testing, the term “quality control” in software development is actually an umbrella of activities of which testing is a part. The main concern of quality control is to determine if the product performs in line with your expectations.

Apart from testing, other quality assurance reports include reviewing the processes within the development life cycle. Through design and requirements reviews, you can check whether a product passes specific requirements. Testing plans, code, and deployment plans are also subject to review. In any case, these will involve checking the consistency of data every time your team makes changes to the design and code. We’ll talk more about quality control reviews later on.

On top of that, quality control is also crucial for developing software that meets ISO standards. Following these standards not only helps in developing quality products but also optimizes your workflows and processes.

Quality control is the cornerstone of software development. Much like any other product, software needs to meet the expectations of a highly competitive market. More importantly, quality control allows you to eliminate redundancies and avoid having to rework your design. As a result, you get to save more time and money developing seamless and highly reliable software.

With agile development models becoming a standard these days, it’s important that you implement quality control processes across each phase of the project cycle:

  1. Planning. User experience is an important metric at this stage, so it’s best that your product is designed with the customer in mind. In this case, your standards and quality control metrics should always align with customer needs and expectations.
  2. Interface design. How do you know if the product is easy to operate? Coming up with an intuitive UI helps increase customer satisfaction and improve your software’s marketability.
  3. Deployment and maintenance. Quality control doesn’t end with a launch. It is a continuous effort of making adjustments and repairing outdated or vulnerable components. You may also revise your standards to match with industry standards.

Introduce error and risk management

Throughout the development process, you can’t always expect things to go your way. You will need to prepare for any and all contingencies that will affect the productivity of your team and, more importantly, the quality of the final product.

Error and risk management are always crucial to any organization. In the context of software development, risk management involves analyzing potential pitfalls that might come up in the middle of the development cycle. Through an effective risk management plan, you can identify mitigating measures and set up failsafe systems.

On top of that, your risk management plan allows you to communicate with your team on any and all issues that will need to be resolved right away. Otherwise, your organization would suffer from increased downtimes, delayed timetables, and higher operational costs. Worse, you also risk launching products.that perform way below standards.

Keeping these consequences in mind, you might want to observe effective error and risk management throughout the development process. Here’s how:

  1. Define project risks. What are the potential barriers you will need to look out for? From an understaffed development team to a lack of strong quality control fundamentals, it’s important that you map out specific weak points that will cause the project to stall.
  2. Categorize each risk. Technical risks are among the most common for software developers. However, these are not the only things you should be looking at. You also need to recognize human errors, managerial bottlenecks, and legal issues (especially patent laws). It helps to divide these risks and assign the right people to handle each one to ensure the project’s continuity.
  3. Balance out mitigation and avoidance. Avoidance is when you prevent critical issues from arising. Mitigation, on the other hand, involves knowing how to cope with the impact of certain risks on the project. At any rate, there will be situations where one or the other can help you overcome risks and meet specific requirements.

Review and revise

As mentioned earlier, reviewing is a critical part of quality control. Unlike testing, however, review activities focused on the backend are concerned with the accuracy and correctness of the code. While testing is more focused on functionality and user-friendliness, reviewing goes a little deeper in detecting bugs and optimizing the code.

In addition, a review helps your development team channel time and resources towards eliminating technical defects. Not only that but it also supports your risk mitigation efforts and reduces your testing costs.

If you want to sell software that doesn’t experience stability issues, then it would be wise not to skip your software review processes.

Conducting reviews is best done regularly throughout the development life cycle. This is to ensure that your product is constantly improved and revised throughout the process. It’s often regarded as good practice to perform reviews and revisions early and frequently. This helps with detecting and fixing errors that might get overlooked as the project progresses.

You may request a certain type of review depending on the project’s position in its life cycle. You just need to know how to make the most of your activities. Here are a few tips to help you with that:

  1. If you are doing a code review, make sure to check one line at a time. Having your team review more lines of code will only add complexity to the review process.
  2. Stay within your standards. To help you conduct a productive review, it’s important that you follow protocols and standards. This will help you stay on the right track and avoid having to focus on issues that are not relevant to the review.
  3. Simplify the presentation. Before submitting their code for review, your developers should consider listing changes and modifications in a clear and concise manner.
  4. Use the right code collaboration tools. You can never go wrong with platforms that allow real-time collaboration among different developers on your team. With this, it would be easier for all of you to sit down, evaluate your processes, and determine the best possible fixes to pursue.

Conclusion

Improving software quality is something you wouldn’t want to ignore as you develop great software for your organization or a client. The process isn’t easy since you need to review your processes, figure out how to avoid risks, and revise your workflows. It can get tedious, but it’s better than offering your market a product that’s unusable and unfriendly!

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