How to Successfully Manage Outsourced QA

In recent times, globally, QA outsourcing has become a common practice across large and small organizations. But why do companies outsource testing?

Software QA Outsourcing essentially means hiring another company or individuals to perform software testing, primarily for the following reasons:

  1. The company wants to focus on their core competency
  2. The company lacks expertise in testing
  3. The company cannot afford to hire/train new resources

Benefits of outsourcing QA

There are many advantages to outsourcing testing to other companies/individuals. Since the organization is handing over the testing related tasks to an independent test specialist, it can be safely assumed that the project is manned by people who are not only experts at their job, but also provide an unbiased reporting of defects.

Since the QA vendor focus on their core competency i.e. testing and the business owners can utilize their internal resources for core business activities. This increases efficiency reduces cost and ensure wider test coverage.

Organizations can also leverage the global experience of their QA partner and incorporate global best practices.

With advantages, there come some challenges.

One of the main challenges of QA outsourcing is to break cultural barriers which could lead to miscommunication. This not only refers to different languages but also the work ethics and company policies. This problem intensifies in Offshore Testing and can avalanche into reduced control over the project.

QA outsourcing can be risky when the software under testing handles confidential data. The ultimate responsibility of the quality always lies with the business owner. Hence, the business owners must be proactive to understand the work, limitations they face and evaluate the project regularly.

If the aforementioned challenges go unaddressed, it may lead to failure.

Here are various aspects of QA project management that, if followed properly, would help the company to partner with a service provider effectively and successfully achieve the business goal.

Internal Readiness

Before initiation of the project, the organization should define clear objectives for the program like stakeholders and internal team, applications under testing, manual or automated testing, types of testing to be undertaken, number of rounds of testing expected etc. These objectives should also include the budget, expected timelines and infrastructure readiness.

Selection of Service Provider

In recent times, business owners have many options of testing service providers in the local as well as the global marketplace. Hence, it is imperative to conduct in-depth research on companies that meet your requirement, are affordable and compatible. Vendor credibility can be assessed through formal and informal channels. While RFIs/ RFPs are usually the starting point for the selection process, it may also be useful to reach out to industry contacts for references. It is also important to assess the vendor’s industry experience and domain expertise. While researching the potential vendors, one must be mindful of the engagement model (onsite/ offshore/ hybrid). This is especially critical since onsite models during pandemic times can cause excessive delays. A hybrid model (minimal onsite presence, majority offshore) is more successful in recent times.

Communicate the objective

The business objective should be clearly defined and communicated to the service provider as well as other stakeholders. This would ensure that all parties are on the same page. Further, deliverables and plans to achieve them can be mutually discussed and finalised.

Defining the expectations

The business owner must set the expectations with the service provider. This includes budgets, timelines, resources, and manpower required.

Enabling the outsourced team to understand the business

The testing partner must understand the business. Hence, while selecting a testing partner, one should give more weightage to domain credentials. There is a lot of information about the industry they ought to know to deliver their services efficiently. The business owner must provide them with the necessary resources and knowledge transfer.

Define a communication strategy

Define a communication strategy to ensure a smooth flow of information. The business owner must set up meetings and calls with the service provider to get regular updates on the testing.

Conduct regular meetings

It is difficult to have a human-level interaction when the teams are working remotely. Both the parties must arrange to meet occasionally to keep in touch. They should teleconference if meeting physically is not possible.

Acknowledge the cultural differences

When working with other companies, especially offshore companies, the business owner must be empathetic towards the outsourced team. Their time zone, holidays & festivals, cultural differences should be considered while setting any deadlines.

Give regular feedback and appreciations

The project manager must regularly evaluate their work and give feedback if any. It will eliminate any ambiguities at the time of delivery. The manager must also appreciate the work if done well. It boosts the service provider’s confidence which will further lead to an effective partnership.

Use Project management software

Various collaborative platforms help team members follow workflow and get timely updates from others. These platforms help to track the progress, pending tasks, and time management

Privacy and confidentiality

Issues of breach of confidentiality can be easily fixed by providing watertight contracts with the QA partner. This agreement between a service provider and a client will make it clear which testing scenarios and functionalities should be covered and what environment is made accessible for the service provider.

Price to Quality

Outsourcing in QA is a great opportunity to add a new perspective to your project. It is not only about niche-specific skills. When outsourcing in QA, the business owner spends on the actual work instead of the tools required for testing. Thus, working with a professional QA outsourcing provider that supplies a pool of talents who are already experienced in what they are doing will always be a pro. Despite the overwhelming challenges of QA outsourcing, it is still more beneficial since it is all about saving time, improving quality and cost-efficiency. Software testing outsourcing allows organizations to optimize testing costs, release internal resources, gain access to world-class QA methodologies and tools, and improve the general QA maturity level.