What is QA process documentation?

Quality assurance (QA) is an important part of the software development process. It’s with QA that organizations can identify bugs in their software and fix them to create an optimal user experience.

The quality assurance team works closely with the development team to test the software before launch. There are several different types of quality assurance, such as manual, automated, exploratory, compatibility, user experience, regression, API, performance, and many more.

Regardless of what kind of quality assurance an organization is conducting, the QA team has to create and follow detailed steps to ensure they’re properly addressing and solving issues in the software.

In some cases, this QA process documentation consists of step-by-step instructions for a specific process, while in other cases the documentation is more like a template that the team fills out while completing the process in question.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of common types of QA process documentation to help your organization effectively find and fix bugs.

The different types of QA process documentation

Test plan

The test plan outlines the testing activities the QA team needs to complete for the specific project, in addition to the schedule, deadlines, and specific testing criteria. The plan may also include a list of tasks the team needs to complete as part of the testing strategy and a list of risks they should be aware of.

The test plan helps the team figure out which features they need to test. It’s essentially a high-level overview for a specific project.

Test case

This document provides the steps for the QA team to follow to test specific functionality within the software. It also includes the pass or fail criteria for that functionality.

This document is highly customized to the organization and the software being tested. Fields in this template may include test case, test steps, expected results, actual results, testing status, and comments.

Some organizations may use a checklist instead of a test case, which is essentially a list of items the QA team has to assess and review before determining whether the feature is working the way it should.

Test progress report

The test progress report is a template that the team fills out during the testing process. The team often creates the report within a software application, but it may take the form of a spreadsheet. Essentially, this is where the QA team and the development team track the progress of their test cases.

Use case or user story

Use cases, sometimes referred to as user stories, are similar to test cases, but they focus more on the end user as opposed to the software functionality. In some software development methodologies, use cases are the source of requirements.

The QA team uses this information to predict how a typical customer may use the software in different scenarios. This way, the QA team can more accurately predict what may go wrong with the software functionality. In developing the use cases, the team will consider the objectives of the customers.

Defect report

When the QA team detects a bug during the testing process, they note it in a defect report. This process document is also a template in most organizations. In a defect report, the QA team identifies the problem as well as the specific sequence of steps they took to create that scenario in the software (which is important to know in order to reproduce the issue).

Some defect reports include details on the severity of the bug as well as what the result should have been. Some also include the priority level for fixing the bug and screenshots or attachments showing the problem.

Software requirements

This document includes a comprehensive description of the software and the specific functionality of each feature. The QA and development teams both use it to ensure the organization has a clear understanding of the key objectives of the software.

General how-to processes

As with any department in an organization, there is process documentation for general tasks. Within quality assurance, this can include instructions on what not to do when testing specific software functionality, how to achieve specific testing conditions, how to set up a specific environment, or how to generate data for testing.

Whether a set of instructions or actionable templates, there are a number of different types of QA process documentation. When identifying possible bugs within software, it’s vital to have consistency and accuracy, in addition to a record of each of the steps — and effective QA process documentation ensures your organization achieves those goals.

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