What Is a QA Environment and How Do You Manage It?

Regis Wilson
January 10, 2023
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"QA" is an umbrella term that covers many different areas of a company's operations. It can describe various tasks, such as the testing and quality assurance process, test methods, and processes. These terms are often used interchangeably but should not be interpreted literally. The term "QA" describes how software was tested during its production process before it was released. 

Software testing is critical to the software development life cycle. It helps ensure that the final product meets its requirements before being released into production. Software testers perform various tasks, such as verifying that the application functions correctly, identifying bugs, and making sure the application complies with relevant regulations. They also test the user interface and usability of the application.  

Managing quality assurance is a crucial aspect of software development. Unfortunately, it's often overlooked due to time constraints. And many companies use manual testing or simply don't test at all. A QA environment is a type of test environment specifically designed to support software quality. In other words, it's a test environment with a set of requirements containing elements specifically intended to support software verification.  

Today, organizations are using QA environments more and more frequently as part of the development process. This article will discuss the importance of a robust QA environment and give some practical tips on how to manage it. Read on to learn more! 

What Is a QA Environment, and What Is Its Purpose?

A QA environment is a testing environment used to validate a software application's quality before it is deployed to production, and to optimize software development processes so that the software works. This environment is typically isolated from other environments, such as development and staging, to ensure that any issues that are found in the QA environment do not impact the live production system. 

QA environments can monitor software development processes periodically or continuously. Continuous monitoring means your software developer continuously monitors and records data about how their project is going, how much time they spend on each process, and how many bugs they find during tests and feature additions. 

Periodic testing is where you have one set of developers doing one type of testing for one period of time. This way, you have more consistent quality throughout your entire team. You can also ensure that all updates and additions are properly accounted for. Additionally, you don't have to constantly monitor and record data about each process in your organization. 

Instead, a developer manually checks in with their manager when they're done with their process check-in. They then perform another check-in after every feature addition or process update. This is because the outlying cases are so widespread that it would be too difficult for them to catch up if they were constantly monitoring everything. 

Why Do We Need a QA Environment?

QA environments are often referred to as "production ready." This means they meet specific minimum requirements before they can be rolled out to production for general consumption. The goal of QA is to ensure that bugs don't slip through during development. It helps ensure that the final product meets its specifications and performs flawlessly once released into production. 

A realistic test environment—the production equivalent of an actual system deployment—is what you need to manage a realistic QA environment. There may be no specific reason why your QA environment should meet these minimum requirements, but it might be more effective if you have one. 

How Do You Create a QA Environment?

Here is what you need to know about creating and running a quality-aware QA environment. To set up a QA environment, you'll need to determine the kind of infrastructure to test and which testing technique to use. 

You'll also need to choose the testing tools and methodologies. Once the infrastructure is set up and configured, you'll need to create a test environment. This will be the environment in which your application will be tested. 

Once the environment is set up, you'll need to create and run tests. The tests will verify that your application works as expected and that the infrastructure underneath can run your application smoothly. 

When the tests are complete, you'll need to analyze the results and make changes to your application as necessary.  

Understanding the QA Environment Using an Example

Let's take an example of a SaaS product. The application side is for existing users, and there's a set of landing pages as a part of the marketing campaign. The testing that needs to be done and the scope of QA could be, say, the performance of the application and the static pages. 

Many tools analyze the performance of web applications and landing pages that organizations widely use. Lighthouse is one such open-source, automated tool for improving the quality and performance of web applications. It runs audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO, and much more. You can run Lighthouse using Chrome DevTools, from the command line, or as a standalone Node.js module. 

With Lighthouse, you can test static HTML pages against dozens of performance and modern development best practices. It produces a report that includes a score for each category, actionable advice, and a list of resources for further reading. This is helpful for those who want to dive deeper into making their landing pages top-class in terms of performance. 

On the other hand, Selenium is a tool that developers can use to automate web browsers. You can use it to simulate user actions on your web application, such as filling out a form or clicking a button. Selenium can also automatically take screenshots of webpages or record a user's browsing session. 

With Selenium, you can also test dynamic web applications whose state changes based on user actions or depending on the user's life cycle to ensure that the web application is working as expected. 

What Are QA and UAT?

People often confuse QA environments with user acceptance testing (UAT) environments since they both involve testing. But they have different objectives. 

User acceptance testing is a process of designing a test that helps make sure the functionality of a software application is supported by the users. In contrast, QA testing is a process of validating software application functionality against specific requirements (to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the software). Software engineers often use it to validate a software application's functionality mathematically. 

Simply put, the difference is that QA aims for error-free software, whereas UAT ensures that users get the product they want. Quality assurance teams work hard to make the user acceptance testing process as smooth and customer-friendly as possible. 

Summary

QA environments are essential in making sure your application runs smoothly. They are also helpful for testing new features or bug fixes before deployment.  Testing typically involves: 

  • Reviewing code for errors
  • Checking functionality
  • Running tests against sample data
  • Conducting usability studies

Quality assurance takes place throughout the entire life cycle of the project—from planning and research to design, coding, testing, deployment, support, maintenance, and even after retirement. Therefore, you need to manage your QA environment efficiently to get the maximum return on investment. This means managing your time well, having a good plan, and keeping track of tasks. It's important to remember that every piece of software has bugs. But you want to ensure these bugs don't impact your application's performance or functioning. 

We hope you liked the post. If you want to learn more about automated software environments, check out our ultimate guide.  

The bottom line is that a QA environment is an integral part of the software development process, and it's essential for ensuring the quality of your application. By following the tips in this article, you can create a QA environment that is efficient and effective. 

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