Why and how government uses QA and Testing to get best quality
In this blog we look at how government uses QA & testing to ensure digital services are fit for purpose.
When public sector organisations procure technologies, the general goal is to find a product or service that:
- is easy-to-use
- is secure, stable and efficient
- can be iterated quickly to meet social or political changes
But how can public sector organisations be certain that these products continue to be efficient and useable? That’s where Quality Assurance and Testing comes in.
QA and testing refer to the provision of professionals, test automation strategies and user-centric methodologies to test the performance, functionality, accessibility and capability of technologies. There are a number of reasons that it’s important for government to test the quality and performance of their digital services, especially when it comes to those that citizens have access to. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at why the public sector uses QA and testing.
QA and testing are crucial to allow government to successfully implement and maintain their digital systems and services. The main reasons as to why they’re so important are:
To build a cost-effective public sector product or service
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Testing the performance and efficiency of a government service will help to reduce long-term costs associated with problems that would otherwise go unnoticed.
For example, if a digital service can’t handle high levels of traffic, slowing it down or stopping it completely, more government staff time will be used in trying to access the service, ultimately wasting public sector money and resources. By running performance tests to see how much traffic the service can handle, not only would any load issues be identified, but the organisation could also identify expected traffic levels and plan ahead for this.
To ensure these products and services do what users need them to do.
Not only is this relevant to public sector staff who may be using certain technologies; but also, to citizens who may be affected by the use of them. When it comes to social value, government are required to consider the positive social and environmental impact that a procurement decision has; such as local job creation and reducing their carbon footprint.
Alongside this, it’s important that digital government services are accessible for everyone—regardless of devices used, data plans or mobile signal—which is why frontend performance testing is especially relevant.
So, QA and testing are fundamental in confirming and upholding the social value of a digital product or service, as well as conforming to government accessibility requirements.
It’s all well and good knowing why performance testing is important. But how is it used by government to develop and maintain the highest quality technologies?
To answer this, the main stages of QA and testing involve:
- Setting goals for quality to measure the service’s performance against them
- Identifying problems or risks with any aspect of the service
- Taking action to fix any issues and improve quality
Here’s some examples of types of testing:
Load and performance testing
This refers to testing how many user interactions an application or service can handle and planning ahead for spikes in traffic at certain times. By doing so, digital services will be able to run at their peak speed, improving their accessibility for users.
Vulnerability and penetration testing
The clue is in the name; these tests gauge how vulnerable a service may be, with penetration tests deliberately attaching a system to find such weaknesses.
There’s no specific goal in this kind of testing. Instead, the tester explores a system as a user, finding issues as they go.
Government digital services must meet level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) as a minimum, which explain how to make services accessible for those with impairments related to vision, hearing, mobility, thinking and understanding. So, this type of testing is essential.
Acceptance and unit testing
Last but not least, this type of testing examines the functionality of a technology or service.
That covers it! Now, if you provide QA and testing services and are looking to supply to the government, you’re in luck. The Quality assurance and Testing DPS has recently opened for applications. The estimated value of the DPS throughout its four-year life is £166m, so it’s not an opportunity to be missed.