Answered: What’s the difference between quality engineering and software testing?
We tackle your most common questions about quality engineering
Quality engineering is a well-established practice that goes beyond just testing and encompasses a range of activities throughout the software development process that contribute to the overall quality of the software product. Still, many businesses do not take the time and invest in the resources needed to adopt a quality engineering-focused approach.
Learn how quality engineering can complement and enhance your current software testing practices, while also saving your business time and money, with our handy cheat sheet below:
1. What’s the difference between quality engineering and software testing?
Quality engineering and software testing are related but distinct fields.
Quality engineering focuses on the overall processes and systems used to ensure that a software product meets its intended purpose and is fit for use. This includes activities such as requirement gathering, design, development, and testing.
Software testing, on the other hand, is the specific activity of evaluating a system or its component(s) with the intent to find whether it satisfies the specified requirements or not.
2. When did ‘quality engineering’ start anyway? Is it a recent thing?
The concept of quality engineering has been around for quite some time, and has naturally evolved. The origins of quality engineering can be traced back to the early 20th century with the development of statistical quality control methods initially applied in manufacturing industries. However, they have since been adapted and applied to other fields, including software development.
The term “Quality Engineering” itself has been used in various industries since the 1950s. Adoption of quality engineering practices varies depending on the industry and organisation size, but it is a common practice among software development companies, especially in the legal and finance sectors to help them efficiently comply with industry regulations and standards.
3. I’ve never done ‘quality engineering’ before. Why should I start doing it now?
There are several reasons why you may want to emphasise quality engineering in your software development:
- Improved Product Quality: By implementing quality engineering practices, you can ensure that your software meets the needs of your customers and is fit for its intended purpose. This can lead to a higher level of customer satisfaction and a better reputation for your product.
- Reduced Costs: Quality engineering practices are geared to identify and fix defects much earlier in the development process, which is likely to save you time and money in the long run.
- Continuous Quality Feedback: Adopting a quality engineering approach means that you will get earlier and faster feedback on the quality of your product, enabling targeted initiatives to improve product quality throughout the development process.
- Compliance: Many industries have regulations and standards that software must comply with. Quality engineering can help ensure that your software meets these requirements.
- Increased Productivity: By implementing quality engineering practices, you can create a more efficient development process, which can lead to increased productivity and faster time-to-market.
- Better Customer Satisfaction: Quality engineering helps to deliver a product that is fit for its intended purpose, which in turn leads to better customer satisfaction.
4. I’ve worked in software testing for many years and am highly experienced in it. Surely that takes care of the majority of my work? I’m not missing much by not doing ‘quality engineering’, right?
Software testing is an important aspect of the development process to ensure a product is fit for purpose. However, it is only one part of the overall quality engineering process.
Quality engineering encompasses a broader range of activities, including requirements gathering, design, development, and testing, which all contribute to the overall quality of the software product. By only focusing on testing and not implementing quality engineering practices throughout the development process, you may be missing opportunities to improve the overall quality of your software product.
For example, if the requirements are not well defined or understood, it would be hard for the test team to verify if the product is meeting the requirements, even if the testing is thorough. Similarly, if the development process is not efficient and lacks proper controls, it may lead to bugs and defects that would have been caught if quality engineering practices were in place.
While testing is important, it should be seen as one part of the overall quality engineering process. Implementing quality engineering practices throughout the development process can help ensure that your software meets the needs of your customers and is fit for its intended purpose, while also reducing costs and increasing productivity.
5. Changing from software testing to quality engineering sounds expensive and time-consuming. Shouldn’t I just ‘get on with things’ and deal with quality issues later?
It’s true that implementing quality engineering practices throughout the development process may require additional resources and time upfront. However, it is likely to lead to significant cost savings and improved productivity in the long run. Finding and fixing defects later in the development process or after the product has been released can be much more expensive and time-consuming than finding and fixing them early on.
By implementing quality engineering practices, you can help ensure that your software meets the needs of your customers, which can lead to better customer satisfaction and a better reputation for your product.
It’s important to consider the trade-offs and to plan based on the specific needs and constraints of your organisation. You can choose to start small by implementing some quality engineering practices that align with your organisation’s goals and resources. For example, conducting requirements gathering and design reviews, implementing a bug tracking system, or creating a test plan early in the development process. These steps can help improve the quality of your software product, without requiring a significant investment in time and resources.
6. Does adopting quality engineering require hiring new staff into my organisation?
Adopting a quality engineering approach in your organisation may or may not require hiring new staff, depending on the current skills and resources within your tech team.
If quality engineering is a new concept for your team, you may need to hire new team members with the necessary skills or provide training to your existing team members. On the other hand, if your current team has experience in quality engineering, it may be possible to implement new practices without hiring new staff. For example, if your team is experienced in software testing, they can be trained in additional quality engineering practices such as requirements and design reviews, and process improvement.
It’s worth noting that quality engineering practices can often be integrated into existing roles and responsibilities. For example, you can have a developer responsible for conducting design reviews, or a tester responsible for creating a test plan. It’s also important to have clear roles and responsibilities and to assign them to the right person, so that quality engineering is not seen as an additional task but a core part of the development process.