5 Essential Tools for a Successful QA Process in Your Startup

5 Essential Tools for a Successful QA Process in Your Startup

Alex Zubkov is a technical writer at LITSLINK from Dnipro. Alex has 15 years experience in sales, marketing, and product promotion for both local and international markets. He’s also a techno geek and amateur photographer with a love of gadgets and the Arsenal FC.

Quality assurance (QA) is an essential stage of any software development cycle. It helps developers catch the lingering bugs and inconsistencies in the product’s functionality before you deliver it to your customers.

According to Statista, companies spent 35% of their financial resources on software testing in 2015. In 2019, this figure went down to just below a quarter of the company’s budget, but it is still taxing in 2020 to balance financial expenditure and product performance.

A sophisticated QA process can cut costs by reducing the number of errors that need fixing and, subsequently, the amount of iterative testing required. It can also improve the reliability of the testing process, further reducing expenses, which is crucial for startups and low-budget, middle-size enterprises.

In this article, we’ll briefly run through the key stages of the QA process:

Let’s get started!
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Stop Profits Plummeting with a Quality Management Plan

quality management plan

Quality management. Oh, how I love thee.

You’ve given us rubber flavored cookies, phones that go up in smoke, and exploding car airbags (we’ll get to all of that later).

Last year, 337 food products passed through stringent quality management procedures and went to market with major issues. So major, in fact, that each and every one of those products had to be recalled. This cost the US economy over $7 million.

But, the cost of poor quality management surrounding the production of food is only a tiny part of the picture:

Defective product incidents have caused in excess of $2 billion of losses over five years” – Allianz, Product Recall, Managing the Impact of the New Risk Landscape

When you consider that the global quality management software market is valued at $7.96 billion, why are we, as consumers, still being exposed to low quality, defective products?

Because, contrary to what most organizations think, there is more to quality management than simply making a good product. You need to know how you’re going to make it good and how you’re going to make sure it remains good.

In other words, you need a plan. A quality management plan to be exact.

The reasons for this will become even clearer as we make our way through this Process Street post and discuss:

Let’s get planning.
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EQMS: The Best Way to Crush Competition, Push Productivity & Reduce Recall

EQMS

Would you eat a McDonalds Big Mac that was out-of-date, had been dropped on the floor, and made with a stranger’s bare hands?

No! Me neither.

Unfortunately, that’s what thousands of people in China, unknowingly, did.

Back in 2015, the Chinese meat suppliers for McDonald’s were secretly filmed and caught:

Handling meat and chicken with their bare hands, taking meat that had fallen on the floor and adding it back on to the production line…and forging production dates on beef patties.” – ET2C, Lessons on the Importance of Quality Control Checks

Around 4,300 McDonalds beef patties were tested and found to be out-of-date and contaminated with bacteria.

As a result, over 2,000 McDonald’s outlets across Asia were dramatically affected. The reputation of McDonald’s and their meat supplier was irreversibly damaged, and McDonald’s saw a 7.3% drop in sales.

McDonald’s was definitely not ‘lovin it’.

If only they’d used Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) to regulate their supplier’s meat handling processes and control the quality of the produce they were delivering.

Companies who use EQMS to manage quality, experience fewer product quality issues (less than 1%), and improve their productivity by 20%.

Keen to find out more? Join me in this Process Street post as we run through the following:

Let’s make our way through the golden arches and get started! 🍟🍟🍟🍟
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How Process Control Can Cut Costs & Eliminate Errors

process control

I don’t want to alarm you, but without process control, you’d be dead.

What? How? Why? …What?!

Your body is continuously performing a series of processes to keep you alive and it’s constantly checking for irregularities in these processes. If it picks up an abnormality, it immediately takes measures to regulate it, and return it to its desired state. Like when you’re too hot, for example. Your body recognizes that your temperature is above normal and produces water, in the form of sweat, to cool you down.

So you see, process control is the reason you’re alive and able to enjoy this Process Street post!

But this isn’t a lesson in biology (thankfully); the same concept can be applied to organizations too.

With adequate process control, businesses can perform efficiently, effectively, and safely. They can function at a consistent level and can even reduce operating costs by up to 6%. Without it, they would miss opportunities, make costly mistakes, and struggle to survive.

Process control is the ability to monitor and adjust a process to give a desired output.” – Beck Electric Actuators, What is Process Control?

To discover how process control can cut costs and eliminate errors within your organization, we need to find answers to the following questions:

To satisfy your curiosity (and return your body back to its normal state!), you’d better keep reading…
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Total Quality Management (TQM): Improve Processes & Keep Customers Happy

TQM-total-quality-management

What caused the global financial crash in 2008?

Failures of AIG, Lehman, Merrill, and other major financial firms? Disproportionate risk-taking by banks and lenders? Deregulation within the financial industry? Development of new ways to finance mortgage products? Excessive lending and borrowing in the housing market?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

However, these causes only tell half the story behind the financial meltdown that morphed into the biggest global recession since the Great Depression (Covid-19 aside).

What was the root cause? The real reason behind the enormous cost to the economies of many countries and the lost fortunes of millions of families?

A lack of total quality management (TQM).

Paul Moore, former head of group regulatory risk at HBOS (part of the Lloyds Banking Group since 2009), dubbed this crisis as ‘the biggest quality failure of all time.’

Total quality management stems from the belief that mistakes can be avoided if everyone is behind the continual process of detecting, reducing, and eliminating errors.

If organizations from within the financial sector believed in putting quality first, and positioned culture and people above profit margins and structure, the events leading up to the crisis could have been avoided.

Just imagine how different things might have been had the financial sector been managing their quality in a similar way to ISO 9001!

We’ll continue to explore this concept later but, before we do, let’s look at what else we’ll cover in this Process Street post:

Let’s get going!

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AS9100: The Quality Management System that Changed Aerospace

AS9100

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped.” – Eric Moody, British Airways Captain, Business Insider

The words no one wants to hear when they’re tightly strapped into an aluminum tube, flying at 900kph, 35,000 feet up in the air.

One in three Americans either feels anxious or scared to fly and 73% are fearful of mechanical problems during flight.

On a flight from Kiev to Toronto, several screws fell out of the ceiling onto my lap…When air started sucking out of a loose seam around my window, I really started to panic.” – Nate Drescher, The Travel

But air travel in the United States is the safest in the world. The odds of dying in a car accident are about one in 5,000. The odds of dying in a plane crash are about one in 11,000,000.

So, putting our fears aside for a second, why is flying the safest way to travel?

Well, partly because of the advances in aircraft design, technology, and engineering, but mostly because of Aerospace Standard (AS) 9100. The International Quality Management System standard for the Aviation, Space, and Defense industry.

A person would have to fly on average once a day every day for 22,000 years before they would die in a U.S. commercial airplane accident” – Dr. Arnold Barnett, FlyFright

Whether you’re an avid flyer, an aviation expert, or an aerospace supplier, join me as we fly through the following AS9100 topics:

Fix your seat in an upright position, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare for take-off…

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Best QMS Software for Quality Management Systems: Which is Right for You?

quality management system software

Implementing a quality management system (QMS) is an important investment companies cannot overlook.

One Harvard Business Review study found that companies with an ISO 9001 certification have much higher rates of “corporate survival, sales, employment growth, and wage increases than a matched group of non-adopters.”

For instance, 65% of companies save $25,000 or more in costs within their first year of implementing a QMS.

Adopting a QMS software can also boost efficiency and consistency of work, increase customer satisfaction, raise product value, and reduce unnecessary costs and overall risks.

A good quality management system is all about achieving a quality-driven culture within your company, and as a result, making your product better and marketing it faster. But in order to access these benefits, it’s important that you choose the right QMS solution for you and your company.

In this Process Street article, we’ll be going over the foundation of everything you need to know before choosing your quality management system software.

We’ll be covering:

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What is Quality Management? The Definitive QMS Guide (Free ISO 9001 Template)

QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Deepwater Horizon – arguably one of the most catastrophic industrial disasters of human history, and the estimated largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

It also happens to be one of the most abysmal failures of quality management by any company, period.

On an otherwise unsuspecting evening of April, 2010, approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, the first in a chain of quality management related failures became glaringly apparent as the emergency response protocols were enforced after an oil leak in the drilling well was discovered.

The oversights were as follows:

  • Lack of proper quality assessment resulted in weak, potentially contaminated cement or “drilling mud” used in the initial failsafe failing to properly block the leak.
  • Fluid pressure tests were not properly carried out and clear warnings were ignored.
  • Rising oil and gas levels were not properly monitored.
  • The final failsafe on the ocean floor, designed to close the leaking pipe shut, failed to close due to the conditions of the drill pipe.

The aftermath of this chain of negligence left 11 people dead, caused over 130 million gallons of oil to leak into the Atlantic Ocean, and cost over $62 billion in damages.

Not one point of failure, but four. Clearly not an anomaly, this disaster was the result of a series of systematic failures that uncover a dark truth about the reality of cost-cutting and disregard for quality control.

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Software Testing Methods: How Google and Facebook Crush Quality Assurance

google-and-facebook-testing

There’s a big difference between successful software companies and those shoddy unverified apps you get off the app store:

Quality assurance.

While small-time apps aren’t heavily used, and the creator won’t receive many complaints or bad press if anything breaks, Google and Facebook are used by billions of people worldwide.

If a bug affects 0.01% of the user base in a small app, it’s not worth the energy. If it affects 0.01% for Google and Facebook, that’s thousands of complaints, and possible media scandal to deal with. And we all know what the price of that can be.

So, when it comes to studying quality assurance there’s no better examples than two of the biggest Internet companies in the world.

I’ve deliberately not chosen to give Microsoft the time of day in this post, because I’d say their QA is pretty damn weak for their size.

…However, read on to pick up tips from Facebook and Google on how to make software that doesn’t break down, cost you more money, and cause frustration for your customers.

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Software Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: What’s the Difference?

quality-assurance-vs-quality-control

Thinking the terms ‘quality control’ and ‘quality assurance’ can be used interchangeably is a common mistake.

Whoever coined those terms did nothing to clarify their differences, but in fact:

  • Quality control (QC) makes sure that your product isn’t riddled with bugs.
  • Quality assurance (QA) makes sure engineers are following processes to reduce future bugs, and write code more efficiently.

Quality control is something development teams do every day. They squash bugs in the code they wrote, and run tests to catch future errors.

Quality assurance is the overall management of development processes that make sure less testing and QC needs to be done.

At Process Street, we’ve already looked at the wider implications of QC and how to run tests on your software. We’ve even provided you with a bunch of pre-made software development processes you can adjust to your own team.

In this article, I’ll go into an explanation of quality assurance in software teams, and how you can use this information for your own developers.

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