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» QA Forums   » Miscellaneous Forums   » General Discussion   » Quality Assurance vs. Testing (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Quality Assurance vs. Testing
kber0139
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I was just reading the post for the newbies/refresher forum. And Post #1585 and #929 proved that my old Test Manager was right.

Testing and Quality Assurance go together. And they are not separate entities. But now I have a new Test Manager that believes testing is not a part of quality assurance.

While testing may not be everything, it is still an important part of it. But how do I express this to a manager? Or do I just wait out my time until I get more time w/ the company? I've been out of testing for a couple of years and I love my new company, but seeing that statement just gets me like me like it did my old manager.

Some people just don't realize how important every part of quality assurance is. Some just believe it is the processes and the docs. But you have to have the proof to give the customer the assurance that their software is going to do what they've paid for.

So please help me. [Frown] I don't want to step on toes, but I know there is something wrong in the thinking of testing and quality assurance. Has anyone else come across something similar to this? Thank you.

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Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought her back. [Smile]

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Joe Strazzere
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WARNING: Religious war initializing...

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Joe

visit my blog: http://www.sqablogs.com/jstrazzere

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Darrel Damon
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I would be interested to know the background of the new QA manager? Was he formerly a project manager or a development manager?

I suspect he was never a tester.

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kber0139
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Nick is the Program Manager. I still don't know too much about him. I just found one of our documents called the Test Process. On a portal site that they keep their docs on. And the remark in the document caught my attention. [Wink]

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Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought her back. [Smile]

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JakeBrake
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Alrighty - I'll take a brief shot at it. No doubt the debate about this is for time eternal. [Smile] I'm not going to attempt to say your manager is/was right or wrong. IMHO, the two (QA and testing as TE – or Test Engineering) are related but not the same for any/all of the following.

Short and sweet version:
QA is about defect prevention.
TE is about defect detection.

Prevention typically consists of reviews, inspections, requirement management/traceability, and change control; et al. Prevention belongs to everyone on a project. At a higher level, prevention belongs to the entire company. From the executive authorizing the funding of projects to the person checking the bill-of-materials against the contents of product about to be packaged and shipped. Any flaw between the beginning and the end of that chain can give a customer a bad taste and a negative opinion about quality. In other words, Quality is owned by all.

Other examples of prevention:
  • Funding is sufficient for the project
  • The project is estimated accurately
  • Requirements are managed and traced
  • Risks are managed and mitigated



Detection typically consists of testing by TEs (AKA QCers) – the kinds and levels of testing most discussed here at this forum. Using the agreements (tacit or otherwise) from those discussions here at QAF as the “framework” of types and levels of testing, one can easily see the distinction between detection and prevention. Most of the people here are very familiar with projects that have the testing time squeezed to virtually nothing. One could argue for a project such as that, that had those cognizant people upstream executed processes and practices according to some organizational quality standard, TEs would have had sufficient time to test. One could also say (as the industry tells us) 58% of the defects present could have been prevented without a single line of code being written let alone tested! When 1,000 defects reach the TEs instead of 420, usually all hell breaks loose. Many here can attest to the “hell” on top of the compressed testing schedule – if any testing schedule even remains. The pressure brought to bear on the project by the most influential people within the organization is then reactive. These are the same people that are owners of quality mind you! Risk-taking and taking of short cuts become all too abundant. The list of sins against the principles of QA at this point is far too great to list. I will offer up a sin or common occurrence. And that is that what the TE tested is different than what shipped. The outcome of that is frequently known as litigation.

Checkpoint! After reading the above, one might be able to say that testing is not QA. Testing is certainly a part of it and is explicitly called out by all the organizations that subscribe to the above. Onward now with the meal still pouring from this mealy mouth…

Some would argue that inspections, reviews, and code-walk-throughs are testing. I do not disagree with that. U.S. Air Force and Army development-related standards categorize testing along the lines of “ETAD”, or Examination, Test, Analyses, and Demonstration. The foundation for this concept is laid out in Mil-STD-483. It is further elaborated upon here: http://satc.gsfc.nasa.gov/assure/agbsec5.txt

Personally, my own position on this debate has shifted mildly over the years. I do make attempts to stand my ground, but my heart rests on the following:

QA is what an organization defines it to be – if it is an organizational effort! To me, that shows organizational teamwork. If the outcome attracts and retains customers, then the effort was worth it. And, I would hope that quality was one of the main drivers in the effort to empower all with quality ownership!

Advice... become involved as early as possible, the requirements phase and even sooner at the RFP phase. [Smile] Testing can begin there. Assert your ownership!

[ 02-27-2006, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: JakeBrake ]

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Hello Newbie! Please try the search utilities as your question may have already been answered. New topic? Do you wish to attract responses? Edit your topic name to be descriptive?? Thank you! [Smile]

http://www.sqablogs.com/JakeBrake

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Stephen Kay
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kber0139,
If I've got this right, you've read something in a process document written by the Program Manager where he says testing and quality assurance aren't related and you disagree.

If this is true then I'd suggest you try to talk to him about it, and don't lose any sleep over it until you do.

I've read plenty of things in process documents where the author doesn't explain things well, or they aren't the right person to do the update and just did their best; maybe jumped to the wrong conclusions.

One company I worked at spent many man hours and lots of consultant money getting a process document that said pretty much the opposite of what the process was. Nobody corrected it because after weeks of it going round in circles, people just lost interest. No-one follows the process, no-one really knows where the document is, but it's stored on a file server somewhere.

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ch_subramanian
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Hi I would like to ask one question. I just wanted to know the QA process in Elearning companies that is the companies that are into epublishing and developing elearning softwares. Is the QA in these type of industries different or they are same as any software development companies?
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neill_mccarthy
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Ch_subramanian, please refer back to the guidelines with the forum as you are hijacking someone else's thread which is not polite and does break policy.

To the original post, it may just be a contextual view that they see Testing as not an Assurance but a Control activity which has equal value but is the check to the balance rather then the balance it's self.

Look to discussing it at some stage, debate is often healthy in these situations, more so then avoiding the discussion but it is good to see you have passion, now use it wisely.

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Regards,
Neill McCarthy
"Agile Testers of the World UNIT!"

For more contextual Musings visit http://www.testingreflections.com/ and now at http://www.sqablogs.com/neillmccarthy/
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Darrel Damon
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To Neill's point, it may be that you and the QA Manager really are in agreement, but just have a communication issue.

I have noted over the years that, as a group, QAers and BAers use language as their stock in trade, more so than many of the others disciplines in the SDLC. I've lost track of the number of times that I've been told "you are arguing semantics", to which I reply "you are correct, but the semantics are very important when specifying software requirements." As an example from yesterday, we had some people arguing over a switch on an insurance claim called "R". To some, it meant "reset", while to others, it meant "release". Two entirely different meanings for the same item.

Perhaps when you talk to him, you will find that you really agree and it was just communicated incorrectly. Case in point - the title of this thread - "QA versus Testing". Is it really an adversarial relationship as implied by the title?

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kber0139
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As far as being adversarial, I am still feeling that one out. As I've said, I don't want to step on any toes. I just guess the things my past Test Manager wanted me to know did sink in. Maybe a bit too deeply. [Smile] He was also retired AF and he did testing on the airplanes. Plus did simulations. But I guess I get part of my stance from him.

Because no one sees any reason for the test group (there's just 2 of us)to be apart of discussions. I guess that is why I think I should get my knowledge as strong as I can so I can discuss my position with intelligence and conviction. So to put in a way that everyone can benefit. At least the document didn't say that they didn't to do any testing. [Big Grin] That is what got my Manager on a roll with the Civilian side of the AF Department. They were posting a website for the AF. [Wink] I just don't want to see that kind of attitude get here.

I want to be the best tester I can. And soon we are going to be starting a testing phase. So I may not be able to write until later in the evening. I am glad this forum is here. Thanks for all the help! Though, all of you and your insights will be in the back of my mind. And yes, I will let all of you come out sometimes in the daylight. [Big Grin]

[ 02-28-2006, 06:35 AM: Message edited by: kber0139 ]

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jimhazen
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"Because no one sees any reason for the test group (there's just 2 of us)to be apart of discussions."

This one concerns me. If these are discussions on project tasks and schedule (which affect you and your work) you need to be involved in those discussions. Also, if there are technical discussions where you could get a heads up on what is coming down the pipe for testing then you need to be involved.

I think you need to have a serious talk with the PM and start getting engaged in the project from what I can tell. They may think they can just throw the code over the wall and have you magically test it. That is my paranoid perception.

Jim

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For all the general stuff to know about QA/Test go here http://www.softwareqatest.com/

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Rich W.
"Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's hard to get it back in." ~ H. R. Haldeman~
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Kber,
quote:
I want to be the best tester I can.

This is just another indication that QA & Testing are practices not science. The definition that I use, or Jim uses or Darrel, or even Neill uses is different within our personal contexts. The management of the company dictates the internal use of terminology.

To be a better tester, you can fight for what you believe, but in the end, you must go along with the fact that it's still up to the management. Testing and Testers in all their many facets will continue to make advances and heal broken processes regardless of a simple definition.

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END OF FORMAL MESSAGE!
"Liberals are very broadminded: they are always willing to give careful consideration to both sides of the same side."
~ Anonymous ~

RichW

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kber0139
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Yeah, I guess you're right. But wouldn't the process be easier. And even the quality of the application be better if everyone could agree that it takes everyone working together. Not just being in one department or another.

Because without the testers there wouldn't be any need to improve those processes to help improve quality. Because most developers, but not all, like having their freedom while developing. And some don't even like to test. That is a part of the reason my job was created. :-)) And having enough programming knowledge to be dangerous, I can understand their feeling. ;-)

Because while the documentation makes it nice to build customer relations on, you still have to show proof in your product. So you have to test to the best of your ability and the ability of the compmany(tools and/or knowledge) to make sure the product you ship will make the customer happy enough to come back to you with more work. I guess in my testing past that is the part that sank in the most.

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Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought her back. [Smile]

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Miggy
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You manager must come from a CMMI environment.

In CMMI worlds, Testing and Quality Assurance are not the same thing!!!

Quality Assurance: deals with auditing all processes (RM,VER,VAL,CM,QA,RM,..etc) in the SDLC. The goal is to provide staff and management with objective insight into processes and associated work products.

In other words, Making sure all members of the project have all processes documented and most importantly making sure that each process is being followed.

Testing: Testing is part of Validation process. "Are we building the right product", validating that the software does what the user really requires.

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EDSMike
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Testing is a significant part of QA. If you test something enough (and organise remediation for faults) you will almost get the quality you want. However there's much much more to quality so it's useful to separate the two ideas for the purposes of discussion even though they are very close relatives.
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