Software Quality Engineering: A Beginner’s Handbook.

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Software quality engineering (SQE) is the process of implementing quality checks throughout the entire development cycle. SQE plays a key role in ensuring fast-paced agile and DevOps teams produce high-quality software. When software quality engineering is integrated into workflows, it can improve agility, productivity, and ROI.

In this article you will learn:

What Is Quality Engineering?

Quality engineering (QE) is a process that applies rigorous quality checks to each stage of product development. It does this through analysis, development, management, and maintenance of quality assurance (QA) protocols. QA is often continued after a product has been delivered. 

The goal of QE is to ensure the quality of a product from the beginning, minimizing potential losses caused by defects. QE is different from traditional quality control measures in that it is present throughout the production process. In traditional systems, quality is only checked in the final production stages. In comparison, traditional methods are inefficient and can lead to additional expenses and work. 

What Is Software Quality Engineering?

Software quality engineering (SQE) is the application of QE practices to the software development lifecycle (SDLC). In software quality engineering, QE is closely integrated with existing agile and DevOps processes, as opposed to being added as a layer on top of existing workflows. This mirrors the shifted-left testing principles of DevSecOps teams and is intended to identify issues early on.

In software quality engineering, engineers play a key role. Quality engineers design, implement, and maintain policies and procedures used to ensure the quality of development processes. This requires a thorough understanding of evaluation practices and technologies in use, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, and automation.

The primary goals of software quality engineering are:

  • Process control and oversight
  • Implementing standards and metrics
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Test development
  • Identification of issues and solutions
  • Follow-up to ensure corrective actions

Learn more about software quality in our guide: Measuring Software Quality: A Practical Guide.

Practices of Software Quality Engineering

To ensure quality throughout the SDLC, you should follow several key standard practices of software quality engineering. 

Functional testing

Engineers evaluate user interfaces (UI) and APIs to ensure that design specifications are met. During the functional testing process, core functions are tested along with inputs, menus, and installation procedures. 

Peer review of code

Engineers should ensure that all source code is peer-reviewed. Peer review helps ensure that code is efficient and that logic is sound. It can also help developers learn from each other and improve collaboration. This is because a peer review of code requires clear communication of programming ideas and the reasoning behind implementation.

Static code analysis

Static code analysis evaluates source code according to predefined standards. Engineers implement automated tools to perform static code analysis. Frequently, these tools can be integrated into integrated development environments (IDEs). These tools can then highlight quality issues for developers in real-time, promoting the adoption of higher-quality practices. 

Unit testing

Unit testing is the process of checking code units (components, methods, or classes) against inputs to determine validity. Ideally, engineers automate these tests to be performed any time changes are made to code. 

User performance testing

User performance testing evaluates the speed of a product in a given environment. This testing can be done manually or automatically. It is designed to ensure that user experiences meet quality standards. 

Learn the fundamentals of agile testing in our guide: Agile Testing: 8 Principles, 7 Challenges and How to Master Them.

Quality Engineer vs Quality Analyst

Although both roles have the same end goal in mind, product quality, quality analysts and quality engineers don’t perform the same tasks. 

Quality analysts are focused on ensuring quality through the planning and execution of quality standards. Their role begins at the project planning stage. Meanwhile, engineers are focused on standardizing and automating quality processes for greater efficiency and consistency. Their role begins after quality requirements are determined.

Quality analysts are typically responsible for:

  • Sprint, test, and release planning.
  • Serving as a quality testing expert.
  • Managing backlogs to avoid oversight of acceptance criteria or edge cases
  • Executing functional tests.
  • Reporting on quality and testing status.
  • Maintaining quality documentation.
  • Identifying test cases.
  • Working with client teams to support acceptance testing, analyze issues, and classify issues as bugs or enhancements.
  • Manually configuring test environments.

Quality engineers are typically responsible for:

  • Identifying repeated test cases.
  • Identifying tests requiring multiple environments, such as browsers or operating systems.
  • Identifying end-to-end test cases.
  • Automating tests to eliminate issues related to manual testing.
  • Integrating testing into continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.
  • Identify and resolve bugs resulting from test automation failures.

Software Quality Engineering Services Benefits

Although implementing software quality engineering takes time and can be a challenge to implement successfully, it can provide several benefits. 

Implementing quality across the SDLC 

The most obvious benefit of SQE is the extension of quality assurance and testing across the SDLC. Engineers can help teams standardize the application of quality requirements and adopt tooling to increase the efficiency of the process. 

Engineers’ efforts, in turn, help teams ensure that products meet the rising quality expectations of customers and users without losing delivery speed. With a rapidly growing software market and fierce competition for loyal users, a high-quality product provides a significant competitive advantage. 

You can learn about STLC (with a “T”, part of the broader SDLC) in our guide: An Introduction to Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC): Definition and Phases.

Improved agility

Many software development companies have already implemented agile practices and DevOps methodologies but not all have done so effectively. Quality engineers can help teams identify issues in their adoption of these practices and can help optimize integration. As adoption of these practices improves, so should the quality of products and a company’s ROI.

Implementing AI

Quality engineers can help teams integrate artificial intelligence when automating processes. Implemented properly, AI can help teams identify glitches more quickly and can help developers focus on specific areas needing improvement. By basing analyses on historical data, AI tooling can even help teams predict a possible issue before it occurs. 

Software Quality Engineering With Sealights Quality Intelligence

Software quality engineering ensures that you are producing high quality software during every step of the SDLC. This is especially crucial for cross-site and cross-field teams. The more hands you have on deck, the more complex the project becomes. 

You need to ensure that you’re utilizing all resources properly and that quality is not compromised. That does not mean you have to compromise velocity. It is possible to build high quality software in a fast and efficient manner, while guaranteeing high quality, with the help of a software quality intelligence solution. 

Sealights software quality Intelligence analyzes your software, and then provides you with the insights necessary to prioritize testing and build efficient testing cycles. With Sealights, you can discover which tests are needed to improve software quality, and which tests are redundant and should not be performed. This automates one of the most difficult roles of software quality engineers, helping your organization prioritize maintenance activity to maximize quality.

Learn more about SeaLights Release Quality Analysis.