Testing As A Service: The Best Outsourcing Practices

20 April 2018

The process of software development does not play well with attempts to save costs, since the implementation of insufficiently high-quality applications entails skyrocketing maintenance time and experiences and other considerable risks. Minor flaws in complex systems can lead to grave consequences, especially in the serious areas of aviation and transportation, communications, energy, etc. Similarly, low-quality, error-prone software in e-commerce or in the banking sector can adversely affect the company’s reputation and its financial performance. That is why a competent and comprehensive testing of software products is of great importance for ensuring both the quality of the technological systems and the overall integrity of the business. Being a separate, complex service, testing is required for developing a reliable and flawless product, as well as for avoiding downtime and reducing the costs of eliminating defects.

Outsourcing Testing As A Service (TaaS)

We’ve figured out testing is an integral part of the successful software development process, and the next question you ask is where do you look for an appropriate professional to check your product? Of course, you can hire a competent, in-house QA engineer as part of your development team. This is reasonable if you have a big pile of long-term tasks needing constant improvement and support by a full-time  QA. However, if this task is temporary or one-of-a-kindas testing the performance of a newly implemented app functionality, checking a website for bugs, or conducting a resource security analysis, the optimal solution is to involve an external testing provider on outsourcing terms. Outsourcing testing allows you to improve the quality of developed software at minimal costs, as well as reduces the risks associated with the misuse of a product.

Testing as a Service

Referring to an outsourcing testing provider, you can get professional QA services for different objectives:

• Functional testing verifies the software meets the requirements stated in the specifications. It can be carried out as a complete testing of the claimed functionality, as well as a checking of only the basic functionality.

Performance testing determines how quickly the system or part of it works under a certain load (with normal loading, in peak periods, under stressful conditions, etc).

Localization testing checks the correctness of translation, writing the text and adapting the elements of the product interface to the appropriate language, as well as to the cultural, linguistic and regulatory features of the target region.

• Automated testing gets rid of manual methods, by automating the processes of functional, regression testing and performance testing.

• Mobile testing tests products on existing mobile devices and prototypes.

• Regression testing checks whether new features, improvements and corrected defects affect the existing functionality of the product and if old defects reoccur.

• Unit testing ensures the correct operation of the entire system, by testing each of its modules separately.

• Security testing is a testing strategy that of the security of a system, as well as an analysis of the risks associated with providing a holistic approach to application security, hacker attacks, viruses, and unauthorized access to sensitive data.

• Usability testing establishes the degree of ease of use, learning, understanding and attractiveness for users of the developed product in the context of given conditions and identifies the problems associated with a specific interface mechanism and determines whether there are problems with the convenience of the interface for navigating, using the basic functionality, and so on.

The outsourcing type of cooperation has proven its high efficiency for software development and testing activities. According to the statistic report for Offshore Outsourcing, over 45% of companies are using outsourced IT services, including TaaS.

The best benefit for a business owner when outsourcing QA services is you do not need to organize a whole in-house QA department with additional equipment, workplaces and employees. A qualified tester or a dedicated team of QA engineers can conduct a full-scale testing of your product using the best practices at any stage of software development from testing requirements in the project planning stages and ending with final exams in the pre-release phase.

What You Get When Attracting Outsourcing QA-Engineers

1. The optimal distribution of workload.
In IT companies, you often face a cyclic process and a “fluent need” in the staff. For example, sometimes the QA-department twiddles their thumbs, waiting for a functionality to test, but later, testers are overwhelmed with tasks and deadlines to conduct all the necessary tests yesterday. The outsourcing model allows you to flexibly control the workload of your employees. During the peak activity, it is possible to attract more employees for testing and promptly prepare the project for release, and in calm moments, not to spend money on wages for thumb twiddling.

2. Reducing the cost of attracting new people.

As mentioned earlier, usually the costs of hiring an employee include not only a salary, but also a number of less obvious expenses:

• renting premises (if you need to place to house a whole testing department);

• arrangement of workplaces;

• purchase of necessary equipment;

• recruiting and vetting;

• accounting registration.

Mainly, these are one-off costs. When you use outsourcing services, these expenses are included in the general price, and since many companies refer to external contractors, the cost is shared between all customers.

3. All inclusive mobile testing

As you know, smartphones vary by model, OS, diagonal, and size. Mobile testing is aimed at figuring out how the app (or website) works and looks on different mobile devices, and none of these aspects should be deprived of close scrutiny. It’s nice if you happened to purchase several different devices for mobile testing, but even they are not enough to detect all possible errors and bugs that can be observed on other devices. In order to acquire significant and complete results of mobile testing, without missing anything, you can hire outsourced QA engineers who perform this task, thereby saving your budget. The fact is, good vendors are fully equipped with all the required devices and tools for carrying out qualitative mobile testing process. Moreover, they will help you not only with testing but also with the complex deployment process(which now is often called DevOps) that allows organizations to launch their products and services faster.

4. Absence of the need for constant training of employees (upgrading their skills).

Very often the urgency of performing tasks simply does not allow spending time on staff training. The most profitable and acceptable option is to hire a specialist on outsourcing terms, who fully meets all necessary technical parameters and criteria. In this way, you minimize the risks of poor work performance.

5. Taking an advantage of narrow specialization.

This is especially true for small projects requiring manual functional testing, automated testing, usability and load auditing. The perfect case is to allocate separate testers for each position. A company faces a difficult choice: Hire a person who is not competent in all four areas or recruit several employees at once, who have nothing to do for most of the working day. With outsourcing everything is much easier as it allows you to take a “piece of knowledge” from each specialist and get four highly qualified testers for a part-time job at the same rate.

6. Management time optimization.

Often the management process takes a lot of time for the company leader. Passing some minor tasks to the management of the outsourcing team makes it possible to spend time more effectively, focusing on important global points.

7. “View from the outside”.

Yes, do not be surprised, sometimes the most experienced and advanced teams, immersed in a project,  need an independent assessment which allows them to identify the shortcomings of the developed product.

8. Execution of individual functions by outsourcing team.

9. It frequently happens with important releases and performance of functional tasks, we lose control over reporting and the preparation of technical documentation. Over time, these problems can accumulate and eventually, show low performance indicators. Luckily, this type of work can also be assigned to the outsourcing team.

10. Strong guarantees.

When passing QA activities to an outsourcing team, the customer minimizes most of the risks discussed above. When applying to a company providing QA services, you conclude an appropriate agreement. In accordance with the terms of the contract, you and the outsourcing provider form clear ideas about the responsibility, prescribed terms, budget, deadlines, and other aspects. Moreover, you get important financial guarantees. The contract necessarily prescribes possible penalties from both sides for cases of non-fulfillment of the contract terms, including quantitative and qualitative indicators. As a result, both parties are interested in meeting them. Depending on the specifics of the project, additional types of financial guarantees can be stipulated and documented: compensation for lost profits, free performance of certain works in case of improper quality, etc.

All in all, the engagement of outsourcing QA engineers is sensible when:

• You need to test your software at every stage of its development;

• You have a small project or a one-time testing task;

• You want to reduce QA expenses instead of hiring staff testers;

• You want to reduce time and effort developing software;

• You strive to get a more accurate and unbiased view of the quality of your product;

• You want to provide a higher level of security control;

• You want to concentrate on your core business issues, not on testing.

When involving outsourcing QA-engineers, clearly formulate the requirements and priorities leading you to this decision. Is it the desire to reduce the cost of hiring employees or increase the quality indicators? Or, perhaps, you want to optimize the exorbitantly inflated time for testing and organize work within the team? By evaluating these factors, you have a clear understanding of what kind of services to use, what terms are needed to accomplish the task and how you can reduce costs. It is also worth considering the process of testing may not always turn out to be as short as you wish, but eventually the investments pay off with high qualitative test scores.

With the development of IT technologies, it has become much easier to attract testers out of necessity. The requirement of hiring in-house specialists has been eliminated, and the amount of downtime has been reduced to a minimum. Outsourcing is a reliable way to optimize and simplify the testing process, without loss of quality and time. Naturally, there are drawbacks with any product, but the main goal of QA’s work is to minimize them, properly assess customers needs and provide the most positive and high-quality results. If the outsourcing model of testing is suitable for your tasks and you have established a good interaction with a reliable QA provider, this approach to improve your product presents you with an abundance of benefits.