For any company having become digital or undergoing such transition, the core development and marketing of their product must be given as much room to flourish as possible. Many entrepreneurs in all fields have bright ideas, but execution, particularly its quality, lets them down. They lose customers and lack in sales, and when it comes to popular video-games, mobile apps or complicated secured systems ‒ failures can get them to the courts and on the news. After testing we want to learn:
– does the software behave and perform as designed?
– are there bugs and issues hindering the user’s experience? and
– when are we ready for release in production?
Decision to outsource testing comes for many reasons. First, an independent testing agency employs only efficient testers knowing wide range of methodologies, who put large effort to bring innovations into the process. The necessity to hire, retain and manage QA staff, tools and infrastructure is eliminated. Then, beyond in-house team, defects are detected more effectively due to neutrality and “fresh look” effect. So, what things to consider to find good testing partner?
Critical mass, portfolio and references.
Today, skillfulness and maturity of testing provider is essential to choose it as an outsourcing partner. Check the candidate’s portfolio of the completed and current projects. Variety of platforms with genuine reviews about software testing companies in two clicks should be at your fingertips. Decent brand image defines the level of credibility and trust to a company at the market, attracts the skilled staff and indicates financial stability.
Along with a brand identity, vendor’s size should be also scrutinized. and overviewed. Sufficient critical mass assumes robust, secured infrastructure, automation and staff trainings. Larger firms tend to better capture knowledge and deliver service excellence (however, this is not a rule of thumb).
At last, more complex your industry is (be it healthcare, security or banking), the more the testers will need familiarity with its key issues like legislation changes and diverse IT infrastructures. Ask the provider if they can present the references from customers in your field and/or samples of their work. This seemingly obvious step is often bypassed. Pay attention to what the referees say on communications, timeliness, merits and flaws in delivery.
If your company is based in a region with high living expenses, contracting the non-domestic testing firm can be vital solution. But remember: any offshore outsourcing carries risks associated with cultural differences, language barrier and time-zone disparities impeding to reach out the partner’s team. Ensure the latter is capable to address these barriers, in order to integrate seamlessly with your customer’s workflows, usability journeys and culture.
Outsourcing the software testing eliminates the need to choose among dozens of tools. You gain access to a larger talent pool than those available within commuting distance of your company. But surprisingly, still some enterprises pinch pennies; they assure apps quality by means of the end-users, customer support or similar staff, who follow simple scripts, and, at best ‒ resort to open-source automation tool. Test cases pass, but their service desk continues to be flooded with tickets upon every release to production ‒ cost of support creeps upward.
The amount which testers asks has to be relevant to the market price, but the delivered underlying value is even more crucial. Of course, you should not pay through the nose for unneeded tools and services. Nevertheless, if you outsource testing purely for reasons of minimizing cost, we recommend to incorporate distinct provisions into an agreement to warrant that the non-financial outcomes of a testing program are delivered.
Many companies complain that software testing takes too long and competitors release products much faster than them. Addressing a crew of dedicated testers, you can expect to release bug-free software within the set deadline. And for sure, the time spent by testing company is fairly less than that taken by an in-house group to complete similar tasks in parallel with their key responsibilities.
Testing is intended to verify that a business objective is being achieved throughout a project lifecycle, not only upon user acceptance. Therefore, you have to approve an explicit acceptance criteria for each phase of the application life cycle with your testing team.
Demonstration and outcome measurability
It is good idea to ask potential vendors for demo of testing frameworks they use. Latest testing tools are by all odds more efficient than popular in the last decade. The best are purpose-built techniques, sensible to code changes, flexible enough to meet timescale fluctuations.
‘On-Demand’ scalability means vendor is able to quickly deploy enough resources to finish or accelerate a project. This also adds value by making price variable instead of fixed. At your weekly progress meetings, the right testing partner should provide a real-time information on tests status, ideally, in form of agenda. You need visibility of passed, failed and undone tests, defect reports (e.g. video logs, screenshots, technical outputs).
People and sound communication
Core potential of any company is the skilled work force. Look at your likely provider’s staff turnover: the lower it is ‒ the better. A talent pool of your QA provider should include engineers, leads, project managers and technicians. On-boarding programs for newcomers and excellence trainings are very good signs.
Finally, listen to intuition: in case of failure, will these people be sincere with you and timely get in touch in order to see the best path forward? Here can also manifest a frequent obstacle in outsourcing ‒ poor communication. Smart testing company maintains sufficient channels and points of contact open to you.
Intellectual property protection
These days, protection of your immaterial brand assets, intellectual property, data and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) entered by your clients, is table stakes. Your testing partner’s staff should by no means copy, disclose or distribute any PII to any third parties. Good software testing firm applies robust security safeguards meeting or even exceeding their internal infrastructure. Information Security Policies and Standards should be in place. This is of particular relevance with mobile and cloud technologies.
Engagement model may be an important factor at your choice. We do not recommend signing long-term licensing agreements with conventional testing tool vendors. You will be locked-in losing the advantages of testing with cutting-edge browsers and devices.
There are two main testing firm engagement models. The first is incremental outsourcing. It lowers the risks through dividing scope of work into small manageable sections between various service providers. Deliverables here are well defined, and product intangible assets and knowledge remain in-house. But you will have to control each of your testing partners.
In the total outsourcing model, everything is outsourced to a single service provider. It deploys a small dedicated team, often on site, who coordinates with your managers and developers. Most of risks are carried by contractor, but it needs the big picture of your product.
Meeting business objective.
No wonder that “one fits all” solutions look and cost attractively. Delivery-driven (typically offshore) testers, who implement them, apply universal models. Such engagement often appears good to minimize costs for simple, precisely defined and low-risk projects.
However, such solutions become fragile facing dynamically changing requirements ‒ the drainless bug-bearer. To compete in fast changing digital landscape, the client-driven testing approach is needed. Here, QA engineer looks back at software from the client’s viewpoint, maintaining comprehensive test configuration management. Client-driven model is optimal when there are various stakeholders and organizational fit is the must.
At the end of the day, proven test engineers always explain processes and how their technology platform allows adapting to unstable requirements. Outsourcing software testing is among the sought-for trends for enterprises to outperform competitors. It allows to focus on core activity and innovations, whilst testing provider ensures quality outcome.
Each of the mentioned concerns, if not accurately considered, can lead to sad results, wasted money and decreased performance. Only a thoroughly tested system can provide sound user experience, and it is the result of contracting a company knowing what it is doing.