Quality Assurance (QA), Quality Control (QC), and Software Testing are the three things any technological product can’t do without. Though they seem similar and have a shared mission, which is to ensure end users are satisfied, and the business goals are met, QA, QC and testing shouldn’t be confused.
Think of a Swiss watch, for example – a symbol of quality and high status. When you buy Rolex, you expect it to be flawless. Thus, to have revenues like Rolex does, you have to be the Rolex of your niche.
The goal of this article is to explain the difference between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Software Testing. Furthermore, we dive deeper in each of them, compare and contrast them showing their importance for developing software.
What is Quality Assurance?
Quality Assurance is a proactive process that ensures that all the necessary techniques, procedures, standards and methodologies are followed during product development. The purpose of QA is to improve development and testing processes and thus, exclude defects by setting up a proper quality management system to ensure compliance to technical requirements.
A QA team collects and analyzes statistical data to identify possible gaps and optimize the development process whenever it is necessary. QA concerns each stage of the development process, from pre-design to product release.
The main task of a QA specialist is to prevent defects and, therefore, to ensure the high quality of the development process and its results.
To be more specific, QA specialists’ responsibilities are the following:
- Help define the requirements for the project;
- Asses risks related to the product;
- Identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in the product at all stages of development;
- Provide comprehensive information about quality of the product;
- Test the product throughout all stages of the software development lifecycle.
After all, Quality Assurance advantages include:
- Early detection and prevention of product defects;
- Closer collaboration between testing, development, and management functions;
- Competitive advantage as a result of enhanced product quality.
In general, Quality Assurance exists to make sure you do the right things, the right way.
What is Quality Control?
Quality Control is a reactive process, the purpose of which is to verify the compliance of the product with the functional requirements through testing and troubleshooting. QC is a detection in nature: it is intended to identify product flaws after the product development but before the release.
While Quality Assurance ensures the correctness and predictability of the development process, Quality Control guarantees the product’s compliance with requirements. In other words, Quality Control confirms that the achieved results meet the expectations. After detecting a software issue, QC makes sure it will not appear for the second time.
Not only Quality Control ensures compliance of the product with requirements but also with a predetermined level of quality and readiness for release. The main task of QC is to provide a picture of what is happening with the quality of the product at different development stages. Thus the basic tasks of quality control include:
- Analysis of software readiness for the upcoming release;
- Analysis of the current conformity of the quality of the created project to the originally declared requirements.
The advantages of QC are compelling and come as follows:
- Encouraging team’s focus on product quality;
- Reducing production costs;
- Minimizing post-delivery complaints.
Ultimately, Quality Control makes sure the results meet the expectations.
What is Software Testing?
Software Testing is the primary activity aimed at identifying and resolving technical problems in software source code and assessing the overall usability, performance, security, and compatibility of a product.
Basically, testing is a subset and integral part of Quality Control. It ensures the product functions as designed.
Just like Quality Control, testing is a reactive work (check – describe defects – fix), which helps fix defects in developed software – not more, not less. Thus, the main task of testing is to identify errors and fix them. Most importantly, Software Testing allows detect and fix bugs before software release.
Here are the benefits of Software Testing:
- Enhanced product quality;
- Increased customer satisfaction due to smooth user experience;
- Cost-efficiency, since the earlier the bugs in software are detected, the less it costs to fix them;
- Security, since testing helps to minimize risks and avoid problems earlier.
Software Testing is extremely important, as bugs, errors or gaps in a system may be really expensive or even crucial to further development. They say wise people learn from other people’s mistakes. Well, let’s have a look at how poor software quality and absence of harmonized testing resulted in substantial monetary loss:
- In April 2015, a Bloomberg terminal in London went down due to a software glitch affecting more than 300,000 financial market traders. This forced the government to postpone the sale of the £3 billion debt.
- In 2016, SolarCity Corp retained an investment bank to help sell Tesla Motors Inc. However, after the signing of the $2.6 billion agreement, an investment bank Lazard Ltd. found that they had underestimated SolarCity Corp by about $400 million.
- Starbucks had to close about 60% of stores in the US and Canada due to a software glitch in its POS system. At some point, the company served coffee for free as they were unable to process the transaction.
- In 2016, a group of hackers took over the Bangladesh Bank System and successfully stole over $81 million. They had another $870 million coming, but a spelling error canceled these additional transfers.
- Some third-party Amazon retailers experienced a drop in their prices to 1 pound due to a software error. We guess, their satisfaction as customers after unexpected huge losses experienced a drop as well.
To cut a long story short, the necessity of a thorough Software Testing cannot be overrated.
Now that we know what Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Software Testing imply, we can build a model of the hierarchy of quality assurance processes: testing is a part of QC; QC is a part of QA; and both Quality Control and testing are parts of Quality Assurance, while Quality Assurance itself goes along all phases of software development life cycle (SDLC).
Difference Between Quality Assurance and Software Testing
Surprisingly, quite a few IT-guys can explain the difference between QA and software testing. Many vacancies for testers sound like “QA required” or “QA tester required”. Well, something’s definitely wrong here. Let’s find out what exactly.
Both Quality Assurance and Software Testing help improve the quality of a product, but QA is more about improvement areas, and testing is about finding bugs. QA is essentially preventive in nature. Let’s say, the task of a QA engineer is to leave a tester with less work to be done.
QA monitors the testing process and verifies that software can operate under certain conditions. Testing focuses on case studies, implementation, and evaluation.
Therefore, QA is process-oriented and is expressed in process evaluation and audit, on the one hand. On the other hand, testing is product-oriented and deals with a result of the development process.
Find a short but comprehensive comparison of differences between Quality Assurance and Software Testing in the table below:
|Quality Assurance||Software Testing|
|Place in SDLC hierarchy||A subset of SDLC||A subset of QC|
|Focus||Quality evaluation and compliance with the requirements||System inspection and troubleshooting|
|Purpose||To ensure smooth compliant processes to achieve the necessary quality level||To validate a product against specifications|
|Time of application||Throughout the development process||At the testing stage or along with the development process|
Difference Between QA and QC in Software Testing
Quality Assurance and Quality Control may seem interchangeable, however, there are many distinctions in their objectives, focus, breadth, activities, and completion times. What is the difference between QA and QC?
- QA is a list of proactive measures that focus on prevention of defects, while QC is a set of reactive measures that focus on the process of finding and eliminating defects. Hence, the main purpose of QA is to assess what can go wrong before and during the SDLC by setting criteria for the final product.
- Quality Assurance includes planning, documenting, and implementing recommendations that improve the quality of development processes. QA planning needs to be done early in the project to define software specifications. Furthermore, QA deliverables include validation of the development process, test plans, and customization of tracking tools.
Quality control, on the other hand, includes activities aimed at determining the level of product quality. When performing QC, all the standards and policies set by the QA should be followed. Additionally, Quality Control involves the use of various types of testing (unit, integration, vulnerability testing, etc.), the use of testing metrics and reports. Methods for measuring quality should be agreed before starting a project, as some tests and testing metrics are applied to improve the efficiency of the entire SDLC process, but not only the final product.
- QA procedures are performed by all members of the development team during the software development life cycle, while QC is the work of the testers team only that they perform during the software testing life cycle.
- The Quality Assurance team’s responsibility is to lay out processes, set standards, and develop checklists, which must be followed throughout SDLC. Quality control is, in turn, the process of verifying that the end results meet functional requirements. This is usually done during the testing phase.
- Duration is also one of the differences. Quality Assurance is a long process that starts at an early stage of SDLC, while Quality Control is a final checkpoint.
Here is a quick summary of the difference between QA and QC in Software Testing:
|Quality Assurance||Quality Control|
|Place in SDLC hierarchy||A subset of SDLC||A subset of QA|
|Focus||Quality evaluation and meeting requirements||Testing the finished product, identifying and eliminating defects|
|Purpose||To ensure smooth compliant processes to achieve the necessary quality standards||To identify product flaws and confirm its quality|
|Time of application||Throughout the development process||Performed after QA activity is completed (before its release)|
Difference Between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Software Testing: Quick Summary
Alright, let’s summarize the difference between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Software Testing. Quality Assurance ensures the correctness and predictability of the development process, while Quality Control assumes control over compliance with requirements. Testing, in turn, provides the collection of statistical data and its reflection in the documents created as a part of the QC process.
To make the picture completely clear, here is a simple analogy with a watch (be the Rolex, remember?):
- through testing, we can determine if all the parts and the watch as a whole function as expected. Is it made of the right materials, using the right techniques and tools, or not? Thus, in this case we are talking about a finished product.
- QA’s job is to ensure that all stages of the design of our watch meet certain quality standards, from planning to the assembly of the finished piece. Thus, attention is paid to the quality of the object before it is actually produced.
Take a look at the table below for a concise but accurate summary of the differences between QA, QC and testing:
|Quality Assurance||Quality Control||Software Testing|
|A complex of measures which encompasses all technological aspects at all stages of SDLC to ensure the necessary quality of a product||The process of monitoring the compliance of the developed system with the requirements||The process which is directly responsible for compiling and passing test cases, finding and eliminating defects.|
|A subset of SDLC||A subset of QA||A subset of QC|
|Focuses more on processes and tools than on testing a system itself||Focuses on testing using approved processes and tools||Focuses on test execution per se|
|Is about managing the quality||Concerns quality verification||Concerns the improvement of the quality|
|Defines standards and lays the foundation for complying with user requirements||Makes sure the standards are followed||Ensures the identification of the bugs/glitches in a product|
Does Quality Assurance Remove Need for Quality Control?
Although Quality Assurance and Quality Control have a common mission, they are not interchangeable but rather complimentary. You may wonder, given that QA is preventive in nature and intended to predict any possible pitfalls, why would you need QC? The answer is simple: Quality Assurance does not guarantee an impeccable final product. The role of Quality Assurance is to establish solid processes and make sure they are followed. Quality Control exists to ensure that all of these specific processes, standards, and policies were followed so that a project meets the expectations of end users.
The quality of an end product is still a responsibility of the whole team: developers, designers, and testers as well as managers etc While QA focuses on operations, the actual quality of the deliverables still needs to be double-checked through QC.
Difference Between a QA Analyst and Software Tester
Let’s now talk about the difference between a QA Analyst and a Software Tester in terms of roles and responsibilities. These are a few facets worth mentioning:
1.Education requirements. Usually employers prefer QA analysts to have a general science or engineering degree. As for software testers, companies require them to have an associate degree in electronic technology or a related field; however, software testing technician positions are sometimes referred to as entry-level software engineering jobs, which is why some employers offer internships and summer jobs in the field of Software Testing to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
2. Compensation. QA engineers and QA analysts are both high-paid positions compared to other careers. According to Glassdoor, an entry-level salary of a QA analyst in the US in 2021 is $47,000 reaching $68,000 on average per year compared to a Software Tester’s $46,000 and $66,500 accordingly.
3.Necessary skills. Here are the skills that a successful QA analyst and software tester should possess:
|QA Analyst||Software Tester|
4.Responsibilities. On the one hand, a QA analyst’s role is to apply principles and methods of software quality assurance throughout software development lifecycle.
Among the responsibilities of a QA analyst we can name the following:
- Participating in QMS review meetings;
- Developing the QMS documents;
- Undertaking internal quality audits;
- Planning and conducting quality audits of subcontractors (if applicable);
- Maintaining and updating training and audit databases to provide reports and indicators for discussion at QMS management review meetings;
- Identification of problems or deficiencies in products and QMS;
- Resolving QMS implementation problems;
- Participating in external quality audits;
- Tracking all process-related metrics in terms of schedule, scope of work, and defects.
On the other hand, a Software Tester is a technician who conducts software tests prior to their release to ensure quality, design integrity, and proper functionality of a product. They use rigorous testing techniques, including extensive end-user simulations, to identify software glitches that are afterwards rectified by developers.
A simple example of QA vs software testing: a QA team decides that the quality level of unit tests has to be at least 80%. The Software Testing team’s job now is to reach that goal.
|A QA Analyst||A Software Tester|
QA Analyst Vs Quality Control Engineer
The difference between a QA analyst and a QC Engineer in terms of the roles they have during a development process is also substantial. The distinctions include:
1.Education requirements. As we already mentioned, a general science or engineering degree even in Biology or Chemistry is enough to become a QA analyst. Although, things are a bit different for QC engineers. Employers require that Quality Control engineers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. It is a win-win situation if it focuses on quality engineering or quality control. It would be a plus if a QC engineer had courses and labs covering quality planning and control, reliability engineering, metrology, and experimental design.
The demand for Quality Control engineers is expected to decrease, mainly because more and more companies choose automated inspection methods. Between 2019 and 2029, the number of hired QC specialists is projected to decline by 17%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2.Compensation. According to Glassdoor, the entry-level salary of a QA analyst in the US in 2021 is $47,000 reaching $68,000 on average per year compared to a Software Tester’s $46,000 and $69,000 accordingly.
3.Necessary skills. The skillset of a QC engineer is quite similar to the one of a software tester, since Software Testing comes as a subset of Quality Control.
4.Responsibilities. While a QA analyst collects information about the product and devises ways the development process can be improved, comes up with solutions on what methods to use, QC engineers, depending on their field and skillset, have the following duties:
- Communicate with clients and analyze their needs;
- Look for bugs in the product and log them into the system;
- Investigate software requirements and identify discrepancies;
- Interact with developers, technical support, other process participants and help them;
- Automize tests;
- Develop test documentation and create reports.
|A QA Analyst…||A Quality Control Engineer…|
Theory is good, but practice is better. Thus, to make sure you processed the new information, let’s explore the essential difference between QA, QC, and testing by referencing to a more practical paradigm.
Examples for QA
QA analysts have to understand the system as a whole. Often, they are the only people in a company who are able to do this.
See, the more complex a product becomes, the more time-consuming it is to measure and sustain the overall product quality. The time to perform a complete product regression testing grows exponentially with the number of interconnected modules. Some changes in one part of a system can unpredictably affect the behavior of others.
Understanding the whole product complexity requires time, knowledge, attention and experience. QA’s part is to develop subject matter expertise. It is essential since a full check of all possible scenarios is too time consuming and sometimes simply impossible. This means that a QA’s work cannot be limited to execution of the test plan.
In case there is an issue with an interaction of different modules, only a QA can notice them and save time on the implementation of unsuccessful solutions in advance.
For example, the quality of a product appeared to be poor. A QA analyst starts sorting it out to understand the reason. After talking with the team, he realizes that the project lacks proper planning.
New features are taken from backlog to development without preliminary assessment of labor costs, and the team has to try hard to meet the deadline. As a result, in a hurry developers make many mistakes, and testers do not have time to check all test scripts.
The solution is to provide an estimate of the workload induced by the introduction of new features and planning based on that workload.
In addition, QA specialists are often the “knowledge hub” and a repository of lessons learned in terms of past projects, which ensures the integrity of understanding of a product.
Examples for QC
Software Quality Control is used to answer the most critical question: is software usable? In addition, does the product meet the quality criteria?
Imagine a shoes factory. It received an order to produce 100 black shoes. The task of QC is to make sure that all these 100 shoes are black. Not dark-grey or any other color but black. They have to ensure each pair has no stains, scratches or other defects.
When deciding whether a product is ready for launch (release), a QC specialist has test results – the number and priority of errors. If there are high-priority defects, then QC will not miss such a product and will insist on fixing these bugs.
Examples for Software Testing
Testing includes implementing test cases, detecting, and registering glitches.
In terms of the general testing procedure, a Software Tester:
- Receives the product and requirements;
- Writes test cases or receives prepared ones;
- Checks test cases and registers defects if there are any.
There is manual and automated software testing. Hence, manual testers check applications manually, while automated testers work with software.
The manual tester simulates actions of a user. A specialist makes sure that the program works as expected in different interaction scenarios.
Automated testing involves testing applications with software. Furthermore, automated testing is super handy when tests are repeated multiple times or when testing involves large amounts of data.
QA and Software Testing by Joinsoft
Joinsoft’s mission is to provide the best quality products to our clients. Therefore, we did our best to assemble a team of QA analysts, QC engineers and Software Testers that share the company’s vision of quality and devotion to our mission. Our team can promise you to:
- Take advantage of the latest technologies in software testing and quality assurance.
- Use an individual approach based on Agile methodologies and metrics for efficient software testing.
- Make sure to run the most suitable types of testing based on the specificity of each product.
- Always keep in touch with our clients involving them into every stage of the workflow. be completely transparent with our clients so that they know how the process is progressing.
Difference Between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Software Testing: Final Thoughts
Congratulations on reaching the end of this “quality” journey! We hope you’ve learnt what Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Software Testing are. What’s more important, you now know the differences between them and will not be one of those people looking for a “QA tester”.
Despite the fact that these share a common goal of releasing high-end software that will satisfy the needs of users, none of them should be neglected.