Quality Assurance - stop using this term!

I really dislike this term. How can anyone assure quality??

It makes the assumption that testers are the only ones who are accountable for, and care about, code quality and that is fundamentally wrong.

Everyone in a team is responsible and accountable, so call us Testers, Test Engineers or whatever, but don’t use the “Quality Assurance” to cover the testing function.

I moved to manage a new team and renamed the Confluence space from “Quality Assurance Library” to “Testing Library”. It is an important distinction, and I will be very happy when we no longer use this term again!


I’ve seen this mentioned a few times within the testing community, and I don’t think I understand the issue fully. I don’t believe testers being referred to as Quality Assurance has any bearing of how other team members view us within my current role.

We’re called QA at my current job - but we’re also shifting the culture to ensure that the whole team feels responsible for quality. We’re doing this by getting involved in feature design at the earliest opportunity, testing as early as possible and also having developers review our automated test scripts. It seems to be working well, with developers identifying potential bugs earlier, now that they are aware of our testing processes and have more transparency into our mindset.

I don’t understand the importance of a job title in relation to a team’s mindset - I’m interested to read more about this and other people’s opinions.


Fair point Ali - this is just something that grates with me, based on personal experience and comments. Thankfully not so much nowadays but it was prevalent a number of years ago that anyone with a QA job title would be a quality gatekeeper - which again is wrong, so its the connotations that bother me.

Thats why I added it into the Rants section - gets it off my chest and might be of interest to others :slight_smile:


You may have a point though, I’m interested to see what others have to say. You’re definitely not the first person I’ve seen mention it!

Good luck, this has been argued about for years, I can point back to blog posts from 2001…


There are multiple terms in this discussion. This is my experience from large enterprises:
QA - approves documents, checks that processes are followed, i’s are dotted etc.
Compliance - towards a regulation like IDMP, SarBox, EUGDPR
validation - v-model confirmation of exact life-science requirements
IEEE testing - similar ISTQB, ISO29119 requirements driven testing/checking (sigh)
Testing - as a learning and knowledge gathering activity

(these are just off-the-bat one-liners, for another topic/rant :nerd:)

QA is QA - testing is testing. Depending on context I might be involved on all levels.


This is so like my rant on Signing Off!..

I meet this kind of ignorance on a daily basis, “Surely as QA Lead you tell us if its good to go!” or “The application has to be qa’ed (sic) before it can be released” or “Sure QA have to sign off on it before we go!”

QA has definite connotations, with people believing those whose job title contain QA, have the responsibility to sign off things.

What they never think about is that if I have the responsibility, supported by my title, I will fight each step of the way through the process of delivering an application to exert my authority to make the application as compliant to a Quality standard as possible.

As a profession, we identify ourselves as testers. Not capital T Testers! testers. :slight_smile:

QA has a role and function within highly regulated environments where the collection of evidence is critical to the successful delivery of a product.

For the most part, this does not include the majority of Software projects, and yet…

I’ve even come up with a QA Free Zone set of poster images for my own personal use :wink:


I wrote a blog post about this a couple of weeks ago. I think QA (as an initialism) is by far too ingrained to get away from so I suggest changing the “A” to “Advocates”. It isn’t perfect, but it does move us in the right direction.


For my org they request for me to do QC often in under 1hr. At every opportunity I say “You mean perform quality checking or quick checks. I do not control quality. I analyze products to reveal the current state of their quality.”

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If it has to be ‘QA’, then I use the term Quality Analysts / Analysis :slight_smile:


I don’t like that therm either, and I tried to convince my boss to start using QE (Quality Engineering). But QA term is how industry refers to testers who cares about quality through SDLC not only at the end and I haven’t been successful.

So now work on place where QA is said but Quality Engineering meant which is ok with me. And at the end our positions are called QA Engineer standing for QuAlity Engineer more than assurance.

QA means different things to different organisations; it may even mean different things to the same organisation at different times. When I started in what my then employers called “QA”, it was about ensuring data quality collected by third parties and validated by independent industry professionals. Then it became about designing tools to accurately collect and manipulate data according to the needs of end users. Only once we’d been through the loops of consulting with the industry on what data we should collect, and gathered requirements from all our own specialists did we get into a cycle of developing software tools and finally testing them.

At the same time, the QA role also had responsibility for the use of that data in external, public-facing, reports; checking data sources and particularly checking data consistency (are the numbers quoted in the text of this report consistent with the numbers shown in the tables and on the main database?).

This was in a public sector organisation whose role was to collect data to set policies, and ultimately determine utility prices. Nowadays, I work in a private company whose aim is to roll out a software product. The relative roles of “QA” and testing are, and always will be, different in two such organisations.

I see “QA” as a matrix, where data consistency, accurate use and software testing all contribute to the organisation’s overall position on quality. Along the way, there are battles to be fought internally over who owns data and projects, who is responsible for error trapping, and who is responsible for declaring an application or a report or a product or any other output as “fit for use”. Testing and determining the limits, responsibilities and expectations of testers is just one part of this overall corporate landscape.

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I dislike QA for similar reasons as the OP; it suggests that testers are the people on the team that ‘own’ quality, whereas quality is, or at least should be, owned by everyone on the team. The word assurance doesn’t work for me either as testers can report on the state of the product, but any changes are usually the result of negotiation with the team. If a bug has been found it has been decided not to fix due to a deadline, then no quality has been assured!

My other pet hate is people calling testing ‘UAT’ when there are no users doing any accepting. But that’s for another time.

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After watching Richard Bradshaw’s Whiteboard Testing YouTube video on this very topic I too started to hate this term.
It really irks me when people say QA’s, that doesn’t make much sense in the terms of Quality Assurance(s). Tester doesn’t make full sense either since devs write tests as well.
So we settled on the term Software Detectives.

You might have heard the term “Be anyone you want, but if you can be Batman then be Batman!”

Considering he’s “the world’s Greatest Detective” and I’m a huge Batman fan, I like the thought of being a detective :grin:. So we call ourselves Software Detectives.


What is in a title? We all know what we are supposed to do in our roles and day to day tasks. This just seems an arbitrary term that someone that doesnt fully understand the process and role has given to title a department or job.

Kind of like when i was at uni working for a supermarket pushing trolleys about. Company called us Customer Assisstants, customers called us trolley boys and for a laugh we called ourselves Shopping Receptacle Mobility Engineers. Job is still the same no matter what you get called.

I totally agree with Steve on this.
We are testers and everything is testable right?
Lets look at QA, how do we test that? Strict limits and expected behaviour. All requirements met and its a Quality release… Ship it!!!

So if the test team is called “QA” its got to be the gate otherwise how can it ensure quality?

In my experience the output of “testing” can reflect poor quality but the commercial imperative ensures its release regardless.
so where’s the QA then… all that’s left is ritual suicide for the QA team!

So for me, unless were the gate, we are the test team.
The reality is that we rarely get asked to choose the term used to describe the testing function… This is “probably” undertaken by someone who isn’t involved in either quality or test ( controversial hey!)
Telling your CEO you have a “QA team” sounds way sexier than “test team” though.

Nice rant Steve, we all like a rant regardless of if it makes any difference!

Cheers Wayne.

For those who think labels matter, consider the term “Quality Support”. I managed such a group and when asked about QA, I said we don’t assure anything. Our job was to help others produce quality software.

In some organizations, QA is a label for the testing function. In our organization QS was responsible for: standards and guidelines, tools, training, and internal consulting. Testing was a separate organization.

Question Asker
Quality Advocate
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Never Quality Assurance - I agree, we cannot assure anything. Together, a project team - testers, developers, analysts - can build a great product!


My team are referred to as QAs, in my last job, I was a tester. In my last job, it was waterfall, and I was the gateway. In my new job, we work very much with a whole team approach. The titles are almost the wrong way round, and I think that’s the thing - it’s a title. The more important thing is the mindset of my colleagues and I.