Quality Assurance is a Practice
Exploring the importance and role of QA in software development
Written by Roxanna Wong, Bursting Silver Inc.
English poet Alexander Pope, in the early 1700s famously said, “To err is human.” In all human-inspired fields, from poetry to software engineering and development, the human rears its head, in forms of great innovation, beautiful creativity and the odd blatant mistake.
Bursting Silver Inc., with 10+ years in business and 1000s of collective years of experience has explored a variety of techniques, processes, systems and methods to reduce and eliminate errors from occurring in our products and solutions. However, in our experience, the most important thing we can do is to ensure that someone else is looking at the work.
Case in point, it turns out that typos (when they aren’t reviewed by a 3rd party or second set of eyes) account for 40% of direct messaging mistakes. The experience is likely a familiar one, you type a message, review the text and hit send… only to spot the mistakes the moment it’s too late to do anything about them. Psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies mistakes, explains the problem in a Wired article:
When we’re proof reading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.
Basically, our brain tells us what we think we’re saying, and our eyes are primed to confirm that what’s on the screen matches what’s in our head. Small differences — like a close word substitution or a missing not — get filtered out by our perception before we can even catch them. (source: https://medium.com/@OnSecondThought_27622/the-psychology-of-typos-985d5a391853)
One of the best ways to reduce errors is quite simple – let other people review your work. However, if that’s the case, why do we hesitate to do this? Well, quite simply, we are naturally programmed to avoid mistakes, and getting “caught” or having someone tell you that you’ve missed something doesn’t feel great. We’re addicted to perfection, particularly in western competitive cultures, and we’ll often do whatever it takes to avoid that painful interaction.
However, some development teams have re-framed their thinking and have adapted their cultures to produce fewer mistakes. These teams have created a positive interaction between developers and their QA counterparts. Here are some of our suggestions: