Choosing to outsource may seem like the perfect answer in many cases. A low cost, swift solution that can be a convenience, or even spearhead your project. The truth is, outsourcing offers as many risks as it does potential benefits. When it comes to outsourcing for software QA, these benefits and risks will have an even greater impact on your bottom line. Navigating the territory properly and learning how to leverage your outsourced team is the best way to maximize your investment.
Communication (or Lack Thereof…)
One of the biggest risks of outsourcing is miscommunication. Not properly conveying your requirements (or your offshore team not properly understanding the requirements) can end up incurring more costs than savings. A lack of visibility (and not having a constant, reliable line of communication) will have increasingly costly consequences. Some of the common issues faced:
- Missed Scenarios: “Oh, I didn’t realize we had to test that flow…“
- Incorrectly Documented/Tested Scenarios: “Oh, I thought that’s how its supposed to work…”
- False Positives: “Oh, I think I’ve found an interesting bug…”
47% of those dissatisfied with their outsourcing experience cited poor flexibility & vendor responsiveness as the main reason. This ties in directly with communication. Your set goals should be clear, and there should be no ambiguity as to what your outsourced QA team is doing. The best way to make ensure mutual understanding is through SLAs, or Service Level Agreements. SLAs can do many things:
- Establish project scope, including deadlines and time boundaries for deliverable
- Define client satisfaction qualitatively and quantitatively
- Ensure understanding of business requirements
- Confirm team availability
It is imperative to keep the offshore team engaged. The typical activities (Test Case Reviews, ALM/Tracking Tools, Stand Up Meetings, Status Reports, etc.) are important, but your outsourced QA effort will fail if you don’t ensure constant VERBAL communication. Knowing exactly what you want and ensuring that your offshore team understands this is the foundation of effective correspondence.
The end result of researching your vendor should be a complete assurance that they have a history of successfully delivering whatever it is you are looking for. If your deadline is soon, you should be looking for a team that is reliable, responsive, and able to complete your QA needs in a timely manner. If you have more time to spare and want to engage in a detailed test flow, find a team that specializes in detail; they won’t be a good choice for your limited time frame. Here are a few checks for reliability:
- Clients: The team has successfully completed projects for clients with comparable needs
- Industry: Look for past experience in your industry (e.g. QA for Banking Enterprise Software)
- References: A strong roster of current and past clients favorably review & recommend this team
Knowing your vendor meets these requirements is a step in the right direction when confirming your choice. Having a team that is flexible, communicative, and able to react to unpredictable issues (that will almost always arise) is the minimum of what your team should be.
Team Integration & Turnover
QA and Dev teams have a symbiotic relationship; establishing a shorthand when communicating about defects and having a mutual understanding of approach is something that is built over time. Cultivating a relationship like this between an in-house Dev team and offshore QA team is much harder than doing it with both teams in-house (and in the same building for that matter). This relates to familiarity with your app/site as well; a dedicated in-house team QA that has been on the same project for a year will be able to take that knowledge forward. An outsourced team may have an unexpectedly high turnover rate, and losing even one member who had cumulative knowledge of your project is a painful blow.
Lack of Investment
A common trap to fall into is treating your offshore QA team as a mechanical resource. Instead, they should be invested in as you would any with an in-house employee. Reason being, your QA/Testing output is truly only as good as your tester. Thus, removing any obstacles and making the testing process as efficient as it can be is the best way to prepare. The 2 main limiting factors for a tester are:
- Skillset: Limited familiarity with testing processes/tools
- Comprehension: Lack of understanding of the product being tested/necessary requirements
In addressing these issues, you will be simultaneously tightening your team and (going back to our earlier point) achieving a higher level of integration between your offshore and in-house members. Now, let’s look at a few ways we can specifically tackle the above problems:
- Training your offshore team in your product and any kind of testing tools that may be unfamiliar with
- Keeping them up to date with what the implemented product changes are (and conveying the business value of these changes)
- Cultivating a sense of belonging in the project, as well as involvement in creating the final product
As stated earlier, integration can be an issue with offshore teams, and choosing to scale/ invest in them is a rewarding way to achieve this. A well-trained team will make your overall QA experience exponentially easier.
As always, your decision to outsource should be entirely based on your specific situation. We’ve been providing a variety of QA & Test Automation Services for several years now – ranging from providing staff augmentation resources on-premise for clients to completely outsourced model where we handle ALL aspects of the QA Process for customers directly out of our offshore center in India (resulting in an 80+% cost savings for some customers).