In answer to both questions: No. Not even slightly. Well, not usually.
Over the last few years, ‘quality assurance’ seems to have mutated (in some people’s minds) into a synonym for testing. Mostly this is nonsense, at least as far as the traditional project/ development environment is concerned. Traditionally testing is a form of quality control at best, which is itself only a small fragment of quality management as a whole, and certainly not equivalent to QA. In fact in many ways testing and QA are the opposite of one another, to the point where, if QA were 100% effective, most forms of testing would be made completely redundant. Assurance is about creating confidence in advance (which is what assurance means) that the result will be good enough, whereas quality control (which includes reviews, static analysis and acceptance as well as testing proper) is about checking, after the event, whether the result was in fact good enough,. But by then, of course, it’s too late: the work has been done, the money spent, and the only assurance one has is that more or less of it has to be done again.
I’ve often wondered why testers want to re-badge themselves as QA. Although making sure things will work well – an idea that is closely allied to competence and professionalism – should surely be one of our highest aspirations, it’s not as though QA is exactly a sexy business. I guess testers regard themselves as even duller.
So – please stop labelling testing roles as QA. And while you’re at it, start thinking about how much less you would have to pay for testing (which swallows 30% or so of most IT project budgets) if only you started to do proper QA properly.
Unless you’re doing Agile, of course. There testing itself seems to have mutated very much towards genuine assurance. Exploratory testing and test-driven development seem to have turned testing from a morbid ‘quality police’ enforcement exercise that set developers and testers against one another and positively encouraged a culture of pettifogging and perhaps even dishonesty, to one where the special talents of testers (at every level from specialised testing techniques to that slightly dire personality disorder so many of them share with the worst kind of assurance people) are transformed into a great virtue.
Well done, Agile.