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Is QA outsourcing right for your business?

Imagine this scenario. The hospital where you have been checking your vitals says that you are not at risk of a heart attack anymore. Your medicines are discontinued, and you go home happily imagining the prospect of a long life. The hospital comes to know later that they have been miscalculating their patient’s risk of heart attack for the past 7 years. This happened.

It affected 300,000 heart patients who were either pointlessly prescribed statins or not medicated at all, even though they had issues with their hearts. All of this happened because of faulty software. Yes, you read that right. That’s how important software testing is. You need a top-class software testing team to be confident enough to hand it over to customers.

It takes an outsider to see the insider’s flaws.

This is the line to use for encapsulating the relevance and importance of QA outsourcing.

Software testing is defined as an evaluation process that tests whether the software works the way it is supposed to. Effective testing of the software results in reduced development costs and improved performance. Software testing should be performed hand-in-hand with any software product. Therefore, the process of software testing should start from the very beginning. This is why the question of outsourcing software testing vis-a-vis doing it in-house gains precedence.

Before we delve into the above question, let’s see how crucial software testing is when developing software:

  1. Increases customer trust:

When software is tested during its entire product lifecycle, the chances of a faulty product falling into the hands of the end customer are low. You will quickly identify the product’s strong and weak points, which will reflect how it works.

  1. Helps reduce your costs:

When you find bugs early in the development phase, fixing them immediately reduces costs. Otherwise, having to fix issues in the later stages can be a lot. Tracing issues after the launch of the product can also be difficult, and software patching for the same gets expensive.

  1. Detects vulnerabilities:

There are over 2,200 cyber attacks that happen every day. Applications with vulnerabilities will easily become prey to such attacks. The most pivotal step that businesses should undertake is extensive testing at all stages of application development.

For instance, When a SaaS-based application or any software evolves, it’s essential to test it thoroughly for flawless performance. This testing process can uncover potential risks and ensure scalability of the environments from the architecture stage to deployment.

Additionally, because SaaS-based applications share the same data center, testing becomes crucial to ensure data security. Security and penetration testing can help identify any potential vulnerabilities, and teams can take necessary steps to mitigate these risks.

  1. Better products:

Thorough testing ensures a better product and enhances its usability, which is crucial to satisfying end users. Creating high-quality products is an assurance that you must give to your customers. If you develop a reputation for providing unreliable products, it can significantly impact your bottom line.

Your application must take into consideration: Usability, Compatibility, Accessibility parameters. Usability can be built into the app right from the planning stages. To make your application usable and accessible, you must test it on multiple device and browser combinations and follow the WCAG guidelines.

user experience

Usability Testing: A Game Changer to Customer Experience

  • Why UX Testing matter?
  • Various UX testing approaches and how to start with them
  • How to leverage various tools for UX testing?
  • Business outcomes that come out from investing in UX

In-house software testing:

Executing the testing process by the internal QA team has its pros and cons; let’s look at both sides.

Advantages of in-house software testing:

Every company wants to put its best foot forward when creating a software application. Having a dedicated in-house team might seem like a profitable proposition in most cases. Let’s look at some of the advantages of in-house software testing.

  1. Operational control:

When testing is done in-house, you can easily manage the team and the processes that are used here. There is greater control over your product since you will be able to observe the progress that is being made on the product. The in-house team will also work in line with your organization’s philosophy.

  1. Easier communication:

Testing within the organization makes communication incredibly easy. If there are immediate changes that need to be made, you can get it done with minimum fuss. The chances of errors caused by miscommunication will be low.

  1. The team will be more involved:

Since the in-house team is working for their company’s products, there will be more accountability. They will be more involved and will be answerable to their immediate higher-ups who exercise control over their time at the organization. Employees are motivated to climb up the organization and will increase their efforts in creating an output desired by their employer.

  1. Greater product knowledge:

In-house teams have a greater idea of the kind of product that the organization envisions. They know the “why, how, what, and when” behind the product that is being built. The internal team is aware of the needs and values. They know how the product fits within the organization.

Disadvantages of in-house testing:

  1. Universal delivery model:

Most software developers follow a universal delivery model which requires them to be available at all times, based on the client’s deliverability and availability. It also implies that you might need to scale your QA team as and when required, and this can be a cause for concern because hiring QAs is no easy task.

  1. Regression testing in agile teams:

Software development these days follows the agile method. It requires regression testing in a short period. In-house teams that have a particular member count might not be able to handle the vicissitudes of manual and automated testing work that comes their way.

  1. Cost:

One of the biggest disadvantages of having an in-house testing team is the salaries that you have to pay. If you have a small testing team to cut costs, it might affect the quality of your product. On the other hand, if you have a large testing team, not all of them will have work in the entire year. The cost of training your testing team is another overhead that you must worry about.

  1. Consumes time:

Many businesses are known to task their engineering teams with software testing. Since developers do not have a real user approach to testing, it will result in shoddy work. If you don’t have experienced testers at your disposal, you will end up with a lot of mistakes. Hiring experienced testers alone will also reduce your hiring budget significantly.

  1. Lack of infrastructure/budget:

If you want to release products that become successful in the market, you must make sure that it goes through rigorous testing. For that, you need to use progressive tools and technologies. The product should be tested under different testing environments with the latest tools, devices, OS, and network combinations. Building a testing environment from the ground up can be exhausting and will not sit easily on the pocket either.

  1. Lack of confidence in processes:

If your core offering is not software testing, you might not necessarily have the best tools or processes to create a superior product. Why would you commit a critical part of the software development processes to your in-house team if you are unsure about your expertise?

Outsourced Software Testing:

It is carried out by a team that is not directly involved in the software development process. The testing process is handed over to an outsider, and the onus is on them to find bugs, clear issues, and report any anomalies.

Top reasons why companies outsource software testing:

  1. Better quality:

One of the most important reasons behind outsourcing software testing is that you get better quality. The problem with companies doing in-house testing is that it is almost done as an afterthought. They want to get the product up and running in the market, thereby rushing to complete the testing. An outsourced vendor, on the other hand, is responsible for end-to-end testing. They also have the best tools and resources at their disposal, including highly experienced testers to offer better quality.

  1. Access to expertise:

You get access to some of the best testing minds as the testers from outsourced vendors will have testers who have specific areas of expertise in testing. They will not only help you develop a highly-functional product but will also be able to advise you on software testing strategies and best practices.

For instance, there are companies that provide niche testing services like: Accessibility Testing, Localization Testing, Block chain testing, Medical devices testing,

  1. Focused operations:

When you outsource the software testing process, your in-house team can focus on the development process. Your IT team will be able to work on complex products. The outsourced team will help you stick to the timelines as they are responsible for end-to-end testing.

  1. Saves money:

Outsourcing any task is cost-effective, especially when the alternative to it is having to hire, train, build infrastructure, offer resources, and develop a team. Software testers are highly sought-after. Therefore, you will have to shell out a lot of money for hiring full-timers.

When you outsource to a vendor, you don’t have to invest in additional technology; all you need to do is negotiate the outsourcing cost and set terms at the convenience of both parties.

Maintaining a full-sized testing team throughout the year isn’t a smart move unless you offer software testing services. Improve the quality of your final product by outsourcing software testing.

Crucial steps in outsourcing:

Making your outsourcing project requires you to keep a few things in mind during the course of the testing process. Let’s look at some of the crucial steps:

  1. Outsourcing strategy:

The most important step in outsourcing is determining which processes to hand over to the outsourcing vendor. Perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the processes, which when outsourced will give the best ROI.

  1. Vendor selection:

After determining the testing processes to outsource, you must choose the right vendor. An outsourcing partner who can perform end-to-end testing based on your requirements, should be the ones you should narrow down.

  1. Smooth transitioning:

Ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities to the outsourced vendor. Outline the responsibilities of the vendor and have clear KPIs to measure their performance. Allow them the flexibility to work on a style that suits them. Train the vendor on specific processes to make sure that both of you are on the same page. Create new communication channels for the project.

  1. Management and monitoring:

You must monitor the performance of the vendor at regular intervals. Are the KPIs being achieved? Is there progress in the project? Are you getting regular updates from the outsourced vendor as mentioned in the contract? Create a checklist of items that you should regularly follow up on.

Types of QA outsourcing:

Outsourcing can be serviced in a variety of formats based on the requirements of the business. It helps boost productivity and run a more efficient business. Let’s look at some of the most popular types of outsourcing.

Engagement scenarios

  1. Offshore outsourcing:

In offshoring, you will contract a part of the business process to another country, usually to save labor costs. There are countries that are technologically adept but will require only a fraction of the costs. It has become an accepted form of outsourcing as it is also used to navigate local regulations that might prohibit certain activities.

For example, Apple, one of the world’s most successful companies, in its 2021 suppliers list reports that it has 200 suppliers and 615 production facilities. Most of these are located in different locations across the world. To put it simply, Apple’s supply chain is ably managed by its offshoring partners, without which we might have to add a zero or two to the cost of iPhones that we carry.

Zuci’s offshore QA outsourcing:

Your dedicated team works remotely at our premises ensuring seamless workflows via secure communication channels.

  1. Onshoring outsourcing:

It is the practice of moving a business process from a foreign country to within the company’s home country. A US-based company moving its customer support from Bangalore to its local headquarters would be an example of onshoring. Since the salary will be similar to having in-house staff, onshoring doesn’t really result in cost savings.

Zuci’s Onshore QA outsourcing:

QA experts handpicked by you as your dedicated QA team, work as a part of your team at your premises.

  1. Nearshore outsourcing:

Nearshoring is when a business moves operations to a nearby country. The close proximity enables businesses to a country that shares similar time zones, culture, language, and so on.

For example, an American company movings its operations to Mexico is a good example of nearshoring. It still enables businesses to cut costs since the operation is moved to the nearest country where labor services are cheaper than setting shop locally.

Zuci’s Hybrid outsourcing:

Your dedicated team can be deployed at your premises and our offices as needed.

25 questions to ask your QA outsourcing vendor:

Choosing the right outsourcing vendor for software testing is critical. Software testing is a crucial part of software development; therefore, you cannot be found slacking when choosing the vendor. Let’s look at a few of the questions that you shouldn’t forget to ask before you sign on the dotted line.

  1. Have you ever worked for companies that are similar to ours?
  2. What is your core business offering?
  3. What tech stack are you familiar with?
  4. What are the modern testing practices such as Shift-left, that you follow?
  5. Which software methodology will your developers use for your project?
  6. How much visibility will our organization have in the project?
  7. How do we set the terms, goals, and milestones for the project?
  8. Who are the different subject matter experts in your team?
  9. How much time does the average software testing project take?
  10. How involved would you be with our software development process?
  11. What are the security measures you have in place to protect our data?
  12. How do you train your software testers?
  13. What certifications and accreditations does your company hold?
  14. How will the progress of the project be tracked?
  15. Can you please walk us through your QA process?
  16. How will your team communicate with us? How often can we expect to hear from you?
  17. What does the after-project support look like?
  18. What are the KPIs that you typically measure to assess the performance of the QA process?
  19. How do you balance technology and business strategy?
  20. What are the factors you consider to set the pricing terms?
  21. Do you have different tiers of plans based on pricing?
  22. What is the minimum suite of services that we can expect if we engage with you?
  23. What are the add-on services available?
  24. Can you tell us a bit about the leadership team?

Success criteria for an outsourced QA testing project:

  1. Streamline your processes:

Make sure that you are prepared to hand over relevant information to the outsourced vendor. Requirements specification, codes, bugs found, and those that were fixed are the major touchpoints between you and the vendor. Have a clear idea of where each of the above is stored, including how often the information is updated, the tools used by your developers, and the bug reporting procedure. The more detailed the information you offer, the easier it is for the vendor to get the work done properly.

  1. Study their portfolio:

Understand if you and the vendor are a good fit by checking out their mission, vision, goals, clientele, working methodology, results produced, etc. Thoroughly check the references that the vendor has provided you.

  • Get a clear idea of how they are placed in the industry, their market share, annual reports, etc.
  • Every industry has its own unique business processes. QA experts who have worked in your niche would be able to offer better support. Check if these criteria get fulfilled.
  1. Sign NDAs and SLAs:

Before you provide the vendors with your code, make sure you sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The NDA will stop them from sharing sensitive data with others. Service Level Agreements (SLA) will have information on the guidelines and testing protocols that will be followed during each phase. Having clearly defined SLAs makes it easy to work around problems that might emerge.

You must have the following in your SLA:

  • Include details on test case performance, test plan quality, defect detailing quality, traceability, etc., to determine product quality.
  • Details on how the project will be managed by the vendor.
  • Reporting schedules are laid down too. It helps you stay updated with the progress and maintain control over it.
  • Knowledge exchange from the vendor to your organization.
  1. Assign a senior-level executive to co-ordinate with the vendor:

You must have someone from your organization who has complete visibility of the process. They should have access to all the information regarding the testing progress. The vendor is expected to apprise them of every single detail.

The person should perform the following:

  • Review the test strategy, test plans, bugs, test reports, etc.
  • Communicate updates to the software.
  • Provide feedback to the vendor.
  • Conflict resolution between the vendor and the organization where they act as a neutral party.
  • Prepare a risk mitigation plan.
  • Ensuring that all the best practices are followed.
  1. Regularly assessing the vendor:

You must get exactly what is mentioned in the SLA document. The service provided by the vendor should meet your expectations at all stages of the testing process. If the relationship doesn’t benefit you, it is best to cut ties and work with a different vendor. Have vendor evaluation criteria. Include relevant KPIs to measure their performance. The number of missed bugs, quality of defect description, quality of testing documentation, communication, and efficiency of testing tools are some of the KPIs that you can use.

6 Answers to Your Questions About QA outsourcing with Zuci

QA outsourcing components:

For creating high-quality software, you must have the right people at the helm, follow the right processes, and leverage the optimal technologies. Your outsourcing partner must have the skills to work seamlessly with your in-house team. The three main components of QA outsourcing are the following:

People: This component involves experts who have software testing experience. They are updated with the latest tools and technologies required. The team should also be able to work collaboratively with your development team to identify and fix bugs.

Process: It is the set of procedures that the QA team follows to test the software. The process followed by your outsourced QA team should be clearly defined, repeatable, and consistent across all phases of testing. There should also be a feedback loop to ensure there is continuous improvement.

Technology: The outsourced QA vendor should have access to sophisticated tools and technologies that will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the testing process. The testing tools should include performance testing tools, automation tools, and security testing tools. It is imperative that the vendor test the software under realistic conditions, making the availability of the latest hardware and software a must-have.

Zuci’s approach to building test centre of excellence using people, process and technology

people process technology

Managed Testing Services (MTS):

It covers the end-to-end activities in the testing process, starting from test planning, test cases’ design and execution, test reporting, process improvements, etc. Managed testing services are used to improve and optimize operations and cut costs by reducing full-time staff.

The managed testing services vendor works with your development team throughout the software development lifecycle to help you meet quality standards. MTS providers have an extensive test management infrastructure and years of experience in managing testing processes for a variety of software applications. They can ably handle all software testing aspects like test planning, execution, defect management, and tracking.

Benefits of managed testing services:

  1. Faster software delivery:

MTS providers follow agile methodology and can get started with testing activities immediately. They will continuously monitor the testing activities and keep track of the progress while adapting according to the requirements and deliverables.

  1. Flexible testing partner:

They can scale up and down based on the project requirements while keeping your team lean and expenses light while operating in an agile manner. The MTS partners collaborate directly with your in-house team as an extension of the testing team.

  1. Domain expertise:

MTS partners offer QA experts who have a demonstrated history of business knowledge, domain expertise, and technology understanding. The QA activities carried out by the MTS partner will follow industry-standard and domain-specific best practices that suit your business landscape.

  1. Customized software testing solutions:

The testing services by MTS vendors can be customized according to your specific needs and business goals. They will work closely with your team to understand your project and offer a custom-made solution that will meet your unique business requirements.

  1. Superior project tracking and reporting:

MTS providers have the latest tools and technologies to track the project’s progress. They generate reports at regular intervals to give you a clear idea of what’s happening. They use advanced issue tracking systems that track the status of all the issues raised and their resolution status.

How to have a successful managed testing project:

  1. Define the criteria:

Select a vendor who has experience working in industries similar to yours. Some of the factors are: extensive experience and expertise in software testing, technical prowess, quality standards, demonstrated ability to get results, having a clear communication plan, flexibility, competitive pricing, and the right cultural fit.

  1. Identify requirements for the project:

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with the managed testing services project. Provide a detailed outline on the specific requirements of the project, including details about the scope, timelines, budget, and so on.

  1. Perform due diligence:

Assess the capabilities of the vendors to make sure that they would be able to handle your project. You want someone who has experience in handling projects of the same scope and complexity. Review their portfolio, talk to their clientele, interview their testing experts, and work together on a small project, if possible.

  1. Make your contract specific:

Write a watertight contract so that everything is spelled out in detail. The last thing you want is a problem where there is no clear-cut chances for a solution. Include details about the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, pricing, quality expectations, etc. The contract should also have pointers on how to resolve disputes.

  1. Manage your partner:

Vendor management is a critical part for the success of a managed testing services project. Since the vendor closely works with the in-house team, chances of miscommunication is lesser. But, it doesn’t harm you to be careful about it. Set regular meetings, monitor the progress, provide feedback, and resolve issues quickly.

  1. Learn from the experience:

Use time-tested KPIs to track the performance of your managed testing services project. Evaluate each KPI and the overall performance to understand whether it makes sense to continue working with the vendor on future projects. Write down the issues that popped up during the testing process and see how it can be avoided in the future.

By following the above steps, you can ensure that you have a successful managed testing services project.

Metrics used in a managed testing services project:

Let’s look at some of the metrics that you must use to track and measure the progress of your managed testing services project.

  • Defect metrics: It helps the team understand the different software quality aspects such as performance, installation stability, functionality, compatibility, usability, etc.
  • Defect severity: It tells the tester how the defect will affect the quality of the software.
  • Schedule adherence: It determines the difference between the expected and actual execution times of a schedule.
  • Test case efficiency: It measures the efficiency of the test cases at detecting problems.
  • Defects finding rate: It determines the pattern of flaws that the project is unearthing over a time period.
  • % of test cases executed: It is used to obtain the execution status of the test cases in terms of percentages.
  • Defect density: It is the number of defects identified per requirement.
  • Defect leakage: It determines the efficiency of the QA by identifying defects before leaking into production.
  • Test coverage: It tells you how many test cases are assigned to the program. The test coverage metric ensures the testing is conducted to its full completion.

Best practices for managing an outsourced testing project:

  • Learn as much as possible about the testing partners that you are looking to work with. Get on a call with them to understand their expertise and the processes they follow. Request an estimate of the project after sharing your requirements.
  • Have interviews with at least one of the senior QA testers from each of the organizations that you are considering.
  • Not all outsourced vendors are in a position to quickly get the project rolling. Discuss the availability of resources and see how the timeline fits with your expectations.
  • The vendor should have previously worked with an organization that is similar to yours. Otherwise, they should at least have a practical understanding of the nitty-gritty of your industry.
  • Check how transparent and communicative they are during the initial conversations.
  • Define the obligations of the outsourced vendor in a detailed SLA to ensure guarantees of quality.
  • Set strong KPIs to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the testing project.
  • For a successful managed testing project, align the outsourced testers and in-house developers.
  • Regularly evaluate the performance of your QA specialists.

Wrapping up:

In-house testing and outsourcing your testing is a question that will always be fraught with differing opinions. But the benefits of outsourcing your testing in certain cases far outweigh the advantages of in-house testing. Before choosing a particular testing model, you must consider your project’s testing requirements. The most pertinent question to ask is whether you can handle in-house testing. Look at your testing requirements from a variety of angles before taking the all-important decision.

If you were torn between the decision, managed testing services offer you the best of both worlds. You will have complete control over the testing process while keeping your costs low despite having access to the best testing minds.

At Zuci, we recognize every product, and its customers are unique. And that’s a challenge we’re ready to take head on. Whether you’re a product quality head trying to understand post release quality, or a CTO looking for testing ROI, Zuci offers a flexible engagement model that meets your demands.

Keerthi Veerappan

An INFJ personality wielding brevity in speech and writing. Marketer @ Zucisystems.

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One Comment

  1. Sammprada November 29, 2023 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Your blog on QA outsourcing is a concise and insightful guide, shedding light on the crucial aspects of this strategic move. The way you outline its benefits and considerations provides a clear roadmap for businesses contemplating this transformative decision.”

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