In the app economy, green is the new black. Investors, companies and teams expect apps to perform and deliver sales results overnight – or at least quickly enough to verify assumptions of a minimum viable product (MVP). Especially today, when COVID-19 washes off many companies and the future is uncertain. Sometimes, when the pressure is on, pressing the “off” button might be healthy. Not only under the current market conditions but in software development overall. That button is quality assurance and it can be an anchor for the business, guaranteeing customer loyalty and lower maintenance costs.

Quality Assurance: then and now

Have you noticed how many apps get “day one” patches? How many of them are frequently updated? Patch notes are notorious for not listing fixes and often don’t go beyond “improved for a better experience”. Almost as if paying customers became beta testers…

Meanwhile, the nature of QA has changed. Before the 2001 Agile Manifesto and recommendations of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) released in 2002, engineers acted as gatekeepers. Their role was limited to defending the code from being swarmed by bugs. Today’s Quality Assurance is all about active participation in the software development process. That means not only better code coverage during testing, but also taking part in developing and maintaining the code as it turns into an app. Quality Assurance specialists are an integral part of software development teams, analysing project specification before one line of code is even written and making sure user stories are accurate, complete, and unambiguous.

If a project is big and requires at least 3 to 6 months of software development, a QA specialist is needed full time and might want up to a week to prepare. That time is necessary to set up environment and tools, configure them, assess risk, and write preliminary scenarios. You can even avoid certain mistakes by involving Quality Assurance engineers early in the project: e.g. reduce the risk of scope creep or simplify architecture.

Benefits of Quality Assurance

The importance of Quality Assurance reaches far beyond bug fixes – it can mean sink or swim for many businesses. It’s also about an input for UX / UI design and market standards present or missing in the app. QA specialists can also check how data is written in the database, how it’s encrypted, and how different services communicate with each other (key issue in API development). Another thing is security testing, with emphasis on penetration tests. For this fact alone, it’s worth having a specialist on board. Preventing problems before they occur is often cheaper than managing the outcomes.

Full benefits of Quality Assurance come from a holistic approach. In fact, QA can even save an app, as 80% of customers will delete an application if it’s not meeting expectations. Losing 80% of mobile users might be normal but can you afford it? Especially in the FinTech market, where products build trust through functionality, features, safety, and ongoing customer support with 24/7 money access. Anything out of the ordinary, including bugs, can derail the plan for a healthy retention curve.

Market threats

What could happen if Quality Assurance is faulty? Unfortunately, a lot. The fairly recent failures of Visa and TSB Bank show how vulnerable the financial sector really is. In fact, 98% of best known and well-funded FinTech startups are vulnerable to phishing, as well as web and mobile application security attacks. A staggering amount…

On top of that, the market is unforgiving. So much so, that in 2017, Provident Financial lost 66% of its share price. All because of a new IT system full of bugs. With at least 73% of smartphone users having at least two financial apps installed, competing on the digital market is not only about money but also about the necessary quality.

Faulty development of FinTech applications can be responsible for the lack of trust in the whole industry. Not to mention the legal and marketing costs. With that in mind, the importance of Quality Assurance in software development comes from prevention.

Quality Assurance in software testing: pro tips

There are two models of software testing: manual and automated. The manual way (clicking through an application) is usually better for smaller projects, because setting up the environment and configuring tools for the project takes time. On the other hand, automated testing works great in longer and more complicated projects, where multiple risks are involved.

A combination of both methods is suited for FinTech applications. These are projects of high-level risk, where people put their credit card information, and by extension, money on the line. It’s an area where serious errors might be costly. In fact, according to IBM, the average total cost of a data breach in the financial industry reached $ 5.86 m in 2019 alone. And that’s only for the U.S. Here’s where Quality Assurance – both manual and automated – comes in to save the day.

How to do it right?

The key is to assure that features are up and running, and everything is polished. To make a stable and safe application, consider using the tips below.

Handy in a smooth software development:

  • automated E2E solutions with tools and libraries like Cucumber/Specflow, BrowserStack, Puppeteer, Selenium, Protractor, Cypress
  • high level of code coverage
  • implementation of unit, component and integration tests
  • implementation of testing scenarios
  • manual and automated testing
  • regulatory compliance check
  • security measures (especially penetration testing) at every stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC)

At the same time, the code should be:

  • reliable
  • maintainable
  • easy to port to other devices
  • reusable
  • secure

These are the key code quality aspects to take into account in a software development project.

Don’t risk it for the biscuit

Reaching for satisfactory results too fast is risky – you can get burned. Making a perfect pie needs love, patience and the right amount of everything. Ingredients and the right pace can make all the difference – both in the kitchen and in Quality Assurance. Don’t rush it, let it mature. After all, the “new black” wasn’t born in a day.