For the most part, the success of any business depends on the quality of products or services it provides. And so, quality assurance (QA) — the process of ensuring that an enterprise's quality requirements are being met at all stages of the value chain — is indispensable.
Through frequent timely audits and other means of evaluation, quality assurance efforts are essentially meant to systematically identify and correct problems and discrepancies that violate the established quality standards.
Simply put, QA ensures the desired quality of products and services right from the development stage to the order fulfillment and customer service stage.
Nearly every business has some form of quality assurance in place, from producers of consumer packaged goods to software startups. Many enterprises even have a separate quality management department with dedicated staff for quality assurance.
But while having dedicated quality assurance staff is important, your enterprise can also greatly benefit from external QA solutions via the use of APIs.
In this post, you’ll see how external APIs can help with quality assurance for businesses, using real examples from tech startups that are facilitating QA for enterprises.
But first, let’s quickly recap...
An Application Programming Interface or API is basically a set of code that allows data transmission between one software product and another.
So if your business needs access to information/functionality from another company that specializes in providing that data, you’ll call its API while specifying the requirements of how data/functionality must be provided. The other software then returns the data/functionality requested by your application.
In simple terms, you can think of APIs as contracts, with documentation that represents an agreement between parties: If one party sends a remote request structured in a specific way, this is how the other party’s software will respond. APIs enable you to quickly connect with data/functionality providers and you don’t have to deal with source code or understand how the other solution works.
So the question is — why are APIs useful for QA? As mentioned in the beginning, quality assurance is the process of ensuring that an enterprise's quality requirements are being met at all stages of the value chain.
Now, there are different types of stakeholders involved at each stage of the value chain. They want to see information that’s relevant to them so they can ensure they’re getting the desired quality. Using APIs from the right third-party providers, an enterprise can obtain all that information and present it to the stakeholders in a unified interface and can also control who has access to what data.
For example, if you’re a fiber optic cable manufacturer, you wouldn’t want to give customers access to your factory analytics system, but you would want to have an interface for your customers that enables them to know at any given moment what percentage of their order has passed stress testing, which is an important part of quality assurance.
It’s far easier to accomplish this with the use of an API from a third-party vendor that communicates this data from your internal system to an external customer interface.
To better understand exactly how APIs can aid enterprises with quality assurance, let’s take a look at some more concrete examples.
Consider you own a large-scale food eCommerce brand. It has an elaborate supply chain consisting of procurement, product development, logistics, marketing, distribution, and ultimately customer service.
Now, in each stage of the chain, your enterprise will benefit from third-party data and functionality from reliable solutions providers to boost the efficiency, transparency, and agility of the business operations.
For example, think about the logistics — when it comes to quality assurance and transparency, the ability to monitor package conditions throughout the value chain is vital. You need answers to questions such as:
What was the route your package took between leaving the factory and reaching your facility?
What was its temperature along the way?
Was it subjected to any shocks or tilting, which may have damaged it?
Such condition analytics using data loggers are invaluable to ensuring the package’s quality.
Now, instead of building the entire data logging system from scratch — which is a huge investment of time and money — the enterprise can simply retrieve all the information via an API from a reliable, scalable, and cost-efficient data logging systems provider like Logmore.
With Logmore’s API, you don’t need to build any extra infrastructure to get all your supply chain conditions analytics. You read the QR code — which contains data on where the product comes from and other basic, preset information — with a smartphone or a scanner, and the latest data is uploaded securely to your own enterprise application.
So you get extensive transparency of what happens to your food shipments, down to each specific item.
Similarly, the second example can be in the customer service department at the end of the chain, where you need to build a powerful support experience for your customers. This involves building custom support workflows by integrating CRMs and order, inventory, and project management.
You also need an infrastructure to automate common customer issues (order status, delivery date changes, refunds and returns) with bots, and access to various support metrics to evaluate the performance of agents, bots, FAQ knowledge bases, and more.
Again, rather than creating the whole customer experience system from the ground up, you can integrate all these functionalities into your existing system by using APIs from established third-party customer service platforms like Helpshift or Zendesk.
And so, it’s evident that APIs can simplify quality assurance for enterprises so they can focus their efforts on other value-adding activities that lead to faster growth.
An enterprise can build a strong reputation for reliability only when it ensures consistent quality levels in all its offerings and also customer service.
Simply put, quality assurance is a promise that customers will have the best possible experience with your enterprise each time they do business with you. This helps you stand out from your competitors, boosts consumer confidence in your brand, and also encourages customers to stay loyal to your business and spread the good word.
And as you can see, external APIs from innovative technology companies can provide crucial data to improve the transparency and efficiency of your entire value chain. So using the right APIs can indeed contribute significantly to your business’s quality assurance success.
(Image Source: Freepik)