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Software QA and Testing Frequently-Asked-Questions

What is 'Software'?

Software is a set of computer instructions contained within a file that can be accessed by using a filename. Software is also called a program or an application. In the mid-1960s, mathematicians proved that any program could be constructed using three flowchart shapes or structures. A structure is either a

What is 'Software Quality Assurance'?

Software Quality Assurance is

The purpose of the above two items is the production of quality software by using a process that is geared to preventing and/or removing defects early in the development process.

What is 'Software Testing'?

Software Testing is the controlled verification of a set of data being input to a control structure and verifying that the output from that control structure meets expected results. The testing should include stress testing (input data that will stress the boundary conditions) and tests that emphasize or mimic how the end-user will use the product. On one project that I worked on, we developed a partnership with some of our customers that enabled us to use some of their applications to test our code. This step enabled us to see how the customer was using our product and it helped us to develop more stressful testing.

Describe some recent major computer system failures caused by software bugs?

Does testing inject defects into software?

Testing does not inject defects into software. Defects are injected during one or more of the following phases.

Because of inadequate test/functional coverage, areas of the code may not be fully tested, and this may lead to defects not being detected.

What does it take to get management to take quality assurance seriously?

What does it take to get management to take quality assurance seriously? First, you must understand that most managers are measured on cost. Defects/bugs add to the cost of developing a product. Usually, it is more cost effective to remove defects early in the development cycle. For example, a company I used to work for estimated that a defect reported by the customer cost $23,000.00 to fix and have that fix shipped to the customer. The cost of each defect was charged back to the effected development organization. Therefore, the cost for developing a product had a line item that was accumulated from the cost of fixing defects throughout the lifecycle of that product. In short, quality can and does affect the profitability of a product.

If you can show the cost of removing defects at each level of the development cycle, you can usually get the attention of management. For instance, a problem injected during high-level design could propagate into 25 problems by System Test and leak nine problems to the customer. Depending on the severity of the design problems, it is possible that a development effort could be scrapped (see VCF). Consider that a problem is injected during high-level design; the following chart shows the cost of detecting/removing the problem.

When detected How detected
     Cost     
High-level design Design review $5,000.00
Low-level design Low-level design review $8,000.00
Code/Implementation Code review $10,000.00
Function Test Function Test Case $12,000.00
System Test System Test Case $15,000.00
Customer Ship Customer Usage $23,000.00


The numbers shown in the table above will vary depending on the size and efficiency of an organization.

It should be noted that many high-level design problems are not detected until

The lesson to be learned is that the end-customer should be involved throughout the development cycle and development should make extensive use of prototypes. In addition, it is more cost effective to gear the development cycle toward defect prevention than in defect detection.

Why are there bugs in software?

This question should be asked in different two ways. For example,

  1. Why are there bugs in software?
  2. Why are bugs shipped with the product?
These questions will be addressed in the following sections.

Why are there bugs in software?

Why are bugs shipped with the product?




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