What is verification vs. validation? (Differences explained)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Verification and validation are two processes that you can use to check whether your product or service is properly. This is because verification is a process that confirms that the product or service meets the original requirements, while validation determines whether or not it works. When you're creating something, it's beneficial to make sure you cover every detail as this ensures it creates a profit. In this article, we compare verification vs validation, including why they're important and how they differ from one another with tips for their use.

Verification vs. validation definitions

Knowing the respective definitions of verification vs. validation is necessary if you want to understand how they differ. Here's a definition of each of these terms:

Verification

Verification is the process of ensuring something meets its specifications. It's often an element of data analysis and development, but it can be rather challenging to implement in a business context as there are so many variables involved. For example, a business might want to verify their customer database to make sure that each customer has only one record, or they may verify their employees' salaries to ensure that they're receiving the correct pay. Verification is also useful when companies receive data from an external source and want to evaluate its accuracy before using it.

Verification helps businesses to ensure that the data they're using is accurate, reliable and trustworthy. Verification is flexible because employees can perform it through multiple methods, including a manual review of the data or an automated validation process. Data verification is especially important in business contexts because it helps to ensure that their decision-making processes are fully based on reliable information. If the data that's meant for decision-making isn't verifiable, there's no way of knowing whether or not it's accurate or trustworthy, which can lead to errors.

Related: 24 common software testing types and when to use them

Validation

Validation is the process of collecting feedback from users about a particular good or service. This feedback is useful for companies to ensure that their product is selling well and meeting the needs of their customers. There are two main types of validation, namely internal and external. Internal validation involves asking people within an organisation for feedback on how well they're meeting their goals. External validation involves asking people outside of the organisation for feedback on how well a business is meeting its goals. This tends to involve the creation of surveys, questionnaires and focus groups.

Validation helps managers to determine whether a specific idea is worth pursuing. If a manager refuses to validate an idea, they may end up wasting resources on something that nobody wants, which can affect the company's success. Validation is especially important for those starting a new business. This is because it allows them to determine whether their good or service has the potential to be a success with its target demographic. Doing so can also be reassuring for a new business's investors, who typically want reassurance that they're going to see a return.

Related: How to get customer feedback with methods and tips

Key differences between verification and validation

Though verification and validation are two similar and related concepts, several distinguishing features separate them. Some of the key differences between validation and verification include:

Specification vs. requirements

A key difference is that verification seeks to determine whether something meets its specification and functions properly. In the context of software development, this would mean ensuring that the code is functional and meets the specifications upon which it's based. Conversely, validation refers to whether or not the programme in question meets the demands of its end-users. A programme might function perfectly in terms of specifications but fail to do what users want it to do. Just because it performs its task flawlessly doesn't mean it's performing the right task.

Related: What is software development and why is it needed?

Responsible party

Verification and validation are two different processes that ensure that a product or system is working properly. Another difference between verification and validation is that the person who performs verification isn't the same as the one who performs validation. This is because verification is typically a task for an auditor or engineer, while validation is generally a task for users or customers. Verification involves testing to make sure that the product means all of its technical requirements. Validation involves testing to make sure that the system does work as expected, which involves feedback from end-users.

Related: Guide: 10 different software engineer levels (plus duties)

Time

Verification and validation also tend to occur at different times. Verification happens before a product's release, while validation occurs after. This is because verification is typically a key part of the quality assurance process and is necessary for ensuring the functionality of a product before release. A team reviews the requirements and determines whether the product meets them satisfactorily. This typically includes testing to ensure that they function as intended.

Conversely, validation is the process of determining whether the product meets its intended purpose and its requirements from the perspective of consumers or end-users. This means that verification precedes a product's initial launch, whereas the feedback that informs validation can be useful for subsequent iterations or product updates.

Focus

Verification checks for defects in a system or process, which means it's closely related to quality assurance. A team of people can verify that a product or process meets certain criteria by performing tasks like testing, inspection and checking against specifications. Validation is different because it checks for gaps between expected outcomes and actual outcomes. Unlike verification, which looks at whether the product is performing as expected, validation looks at whether it produces the intended results.

For example, if you're building an online business management programme, you might validate it by looking at how many customers came into your store after using your app versus how many came into your store before you launched your app. You may then look at how much money those customers spent on average per visit versus how much money those who weren't using your app spent per visit. This allows testers to see if the product or service is performing expectedly and if there are any other benefits to its use that weren't intentional.

Related: What is quality assurance and why is it so important?

Tools and methods

Both processes can involve the use of different tools. Verification uses specialised tools related to performance evaluation, whereas validation tends to use quantitative and qualitative feedback gathering. An example is software verification, which involves the use of automated testing tools that can determine its performance and functionality based on certain criteria. This is because the primary goal is ensuring that the product adheres to certain quality standards and lacks functional issues.

Validation involves getting feedback from users to ensure that they're fully satisfied with their experience with the product. Gathering this information is going to involve getting quantitative and qualitative feedback. This is typically achievable through interviews or surveys with customers or through usability testing sessions where users interact with the product and provide feedback about their experience using it.

Related: A guide to statistical tools in qualitative research

Tips for verification

Verification is a powerful tool to use. Here are some tips for employing verification:

  • Find out who your target audience is by doing research and talking to people in your industry.

  • Ask yourself if the problem you're trying to solve is one that people have in real life as this helps to create a target demographic for the product or service.

  • Create a prototype and test it with real users in a controlled environment.

  • Ensure that the product or service has potentially high-profit margins.

Related: How to write a test case in software development (with tips)

Tips for validation

Here are some tips to consider when validating:

  • Think about who is going to be using this product or service and how it can fit into their lives. It's useful to understand your target audience and what they want from your product so they can use it effectively and derive value from it.

  • Be aware of current trends and how they might affect your business model or product offering. Companies that stay up-to-date with current trends can better determine if there are any changes they can make to ensure their product is more appealing than competitors.

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