Engineering Expertise What is Software Quality Assurance? By Jennifer Martin | July 20, 2022 Are you interested in becoming a software developer? Software development is an exciting field that’s full of potential. If a company uses computers, it uses the product of software developers, but the path to becoming a software developer and the exact skills used on the job may not always be clear. How Do You Become a Software Developer? An easy and efficient way to become a software developer is by attending a creative arts college. After you complete a degree in software development, you’ll have the skills needed to enter the profession. This includes the fundamentals of software development. However, a degree in software development will also provide you with the skills needed to integrate software development into the larger business world. This includes managerial strategies and skills such as systems analysis and software quality management. What Do You Learn During a Software Development Program? During a software development program, you’ll have the chance to pick up skills related to particular fields in which software developers are important. Of course, the main draw of a software development program is the actual technical skills related to computer programming. There are many skills used in professional software development, but the following subjects form the foundation of a career in software development and software quality assurance. C and C++ Programming Languages Programming languages are at the heart of software development. A program or app is essentially a large collection of commands written in different programming languages. There are many programming languages available for use, but C and C++ are among the most important. They’re considered to be the most human-readable programming languages. These lower-level languages are harder for programmers to work with, but they produce programs that run faster than higher-level languages. Software developers who have a good grasp of C and C++ start out with a strong advantage within the industry as they can create extremely efficient programs. Cloud Computing Cloud computing is any form of computer science that interacts with distributed software-based computer systems. These systems are referred to as “the cloud.” The cloud is created by running multiple processes simultaneously within different pieces of hardware. This creates a new computer system that’s a simulation created in code and joined through network connections. The cloud implementation then borrows power from individual hardware-based systems. The fact that the cloud is software-based means it can be easily and quickly modified. Upgrading a hardware-based server, for example, involves taking all services offline for an extended period while individual components are removed. However, a cloud-based server can be upgraded with only a few seconds of downtime. A software development course will teach you how to work with and even write code for these cloud systems. Data Structures Data structures can be thought of as the organizational system used by individual programs. All programs work with data. Enterprise-level software can work with vast amounts of data, enough to easily slow down a network. However, proper data structure design can ensure things always move smoothly and efficiently. This is analogous to how much faster you’re able to work when you’re at a properly organized workplace. If you know where all your tools are then you can get a job done quickly and efficiently. However, if you have to constantly rummage around in desk drawers, your workflow will be hindered. This general idea holds true for databases and similar digital systems as well. Proper data structure design ensures that all data is properly stored and organized for efficient use. Algorithms If data structures are organization, then algorithms are implementation. Algorithms describe specific criteria and rules a computer system can use to process data. This is similar to how you work through complex mathematical formulas. Algorithm design and implementation is an important part of most software development and quality assurance. However, it’s perhaps best known for its role in artificial intelligence and machine learning. When AI “thinks,” it’s weighing data by running it through an algorithm. Systems analysis and design Systems analysis and design is a combination of two separate but synergistic practices: analysis, and design. Systems analysis describes the process of analyzing the basic methodology used within a particular task. This is done within a business setting to analyze the overall efficiency of a production cycle. Systems design refers to the buildup of a system as examined during the analysis phase. These two branches are a continual cycle where new methods should be introduced, analyzed, and modified for optimal efficiency. The primary goal of systems analysis and design is the continual growth of a system’s overall efficiency and capability. Testing and Validation Software testing and validation describe a detailed process by which people compare a piece of software’s capabilities to its intended functionality. For example, consider a company that has taken on a contract to build software that works with X databases to process results fitting Y criteria. The testing and validation phase might involve running through every possible variation of X databases. The results might then be reviewed to ensure that 100% of the results fit the Y criteria. Another part of this phase involves monitoring software for any bugs or unexpected behavior. Testing and validation might seem straightforward at first, but it’s important to keep in mind that modern software suites can work with hundreds, or even thousands, of specific requirements. Testing a product at the end of a development cycle requires detailed planning and formalized execution. Anyone can find a few errors, but finding all possible errors and bugs requires specific education in proper testing and validation practices. What is Software Quality Assurance? A software development degree will also cover software quality assurance. Software quality assurance is a huge subject that covers most of the topics discussed up to this point. It defines how the software development cycle operates. If all of the other subjects are tools, then software quality assurance might be seen as the toolbox. Software quality assurance guides every step of the development cycle to assess and assure a specific level of quality in the software. What Are the Steps in Software Quality Management? The exact steps involved with software quality management will vary on a case-by-case basis. Every company has its own unique method of relating to the process. However, as a general rule, there are some specific steps that will remain consistent within software quality management as a whole. Step #1: Development: Including Research and Analysis The initial stage of development involves laying a firm foundation. This stage begins with research and analysis of several different points. One of the most important parts of this stage involves collective agreement on set metrics. It’s important to know exactly what the software needs to do and what marks a successful implementation. However, this can’t be a subjective decision made during the development cycle. Proper software quality management aims to remove as much subjectivity from the process as possible. The development stage begins by deciding when the project can be objectively labeled as completed. At that point, the actual coding can begin. Step #2: Baseline System: Including Prototypes and Design The next step involves the practical implementation of the first step to reach what’s known as a baseline. The baseline marks a starting point in the development process. There are many subcategories of baseline within the larger context of software quality management. The most important consideration in the design context is that a baseline provides a verifiable starting point, milestones along the way, and a final goal to be reached. This step will involve various forms of testing to verify elements of the larger codebase. With a larger project, this will involve automated testing. Prototyping might be done in higher-level languages to quickly test the viability of specific algorithms that will be introduced in more efficient lower-level systems. While the exact process might vary, the larger methodology will remain the same. This step is heavily invested in creating, testing, and designing. Step #3: Production: Including Testing and Planning The production step involves a considerable amount of testing and evaluation. Code moves on from rough prototypes to polished algorithms. It’s also important to keep in mind that development needs to remain flexible. The larger needs of a project may change as a result of information obtained during this step. Or official guidelines might end up revised, which will call for new plans. Step #4: Market Release: Including Delivery Method and Support The final market release is the last step of the process. It’s easy to think that you’ve reached the finish line at the last line of code, but this final step often involves a significant amount of work. The market release incorporates artistic design elements, documentation, formal drafting of support guidelines, and a host of similar extras. It’s important to strictly control these items and ensure that the actual release maintains the same quality as was seen during development. What Are the Benefits of Software Quality Assurance? The steps involved with software quality assurance might seem like a lot of extra work, but they’re an invaluable skill set for anyone learning software development. It ensures a high-level of quality in the final product, and it also ensures that there’s less, or even no need for work on bug fixes. Software quality assurance spends more time in the development phase to save a huge amount of time and money after the market release. Software quality assurance also makes the development process go smoothly for everyone involved. The methodology is designed to satisfy questions, disagreements, and other issues before development even begins. It’s not just a way of improving the software, it improves how that software is created in the first place. Want to Learn More? Our comprehensive Computer Science & Engineering degree programs are taught by entrepreneurs who are in the thick of the industry. At University of Silicon Valley, the Bachelor of Science in Software Development puts students in the world of software application development right away. You will be analyzing problems, planning solutions, and delivering software applications across technical platforms from hand-held devices to the cloud. University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.