Outsourcing is one of the of the most difficult decisions a company can make. Whether you’re an established brand or a start-up, your goal is to intelligently deploy capital on ‘things’ that grow your business. Make the wrong decisions and you risk losing revenue. Make the right decisions and your business will grow.
Revenue risks are compounded in the wild world of software development and quality assurance. Today’s digital leaders must deal with rapid changes as innovations in IoT, VR/AR, Big Data, and SaaS continue to drive market evolution and user expectation.
In the past, the decision to outsource rested largely on attempts to reduce business costs. Now, outsourcing considerations have shifted from being solely cost-driven to include valuation of strategically leveraged partnerships constructed from an understanding of the benefits of specialization. It’s no longer enough to view outsourcing as simply a ‘cost-saving’ method. Now, any decision about outsourcing your software quality assurance (SQA) program must also consider company strategy and core competencies.
Why Outsource Software Quality Assurance?
Every management team will eventually ask themselves this question and go through the analysis to determine what to do. Unfortunately, every company has different organizational dynamics (profit goals, labor pool constraints, availability of capital, technical expertise) which can skew any analysis so that the reasons to outsource for one company may be totally different than another.
With this in mind, let’s look at two critical areas to analyze when it’s time for your company to ask why it should outsource software QA:
1. The cost of developing and maintaining in-house SQA capability vs. outsourcing quality assurance
- Cost of technical personnel who have the necessary qualifications. This assumes you can find — and retain — SQA specialists in a highly competitive market.
- Cost of additional hardware and software tools.
- Indirect costs associated with in-house lack of expertise in emerging software trends. An inexperienced team, or one who’s primary mission isn’t quality assurance, may miss finding critical bugs, resulting in loss of sales and revenue.
- Lost opportunity costs. Could you be using the capital invested in building an in-house testing group to do something that adds value to the bottom line more efficiently?
- Lost sales due to late TTM (Time to Market) because of slow and inefficient software testing.
2. Business strategy and core competencies
- Will your company gain a competitive advantage by outsourcing SQA? It’s quite possible that strategically leveraging the knowledge and equipment offered by a SQA company will provide such an advantage.
- The strength of your internal capability for conducting SQA. Here you must ask yourself: Do I have a team with expertise in the varied and rapidly evolving software testing field? Has my team worked with many platforms, many companies, and many varieties of testing to know which is the best fit for my SQA needs?
- Are key decision makers in touch with the latest developments, both within their business — and their market? What advantage would be gained by partnering with a SQA company whose very existence relies on understanding and leveraging the latest technologies?
Benefits of Outsourcing Quality Assurance
Outsourcing your software quality assurance program to an experienced partner offers multiple advantages. SQA specialists leverage their collective experience to overcome development challenges, while maintaining TTM and other efficiencies. Because SQA specialists work with many companies on a variety of projects, outsource partners can quickly interject critical skills and expertise to any product or software development.
Deploying an app with bugs happens as often as the sun rises in the West, especially without a dedicated SQA program. According to a 2015 survey by Evans Data, apps tested by development teams typically release with 10 to 50 bugs. This data calls into question the wisdom of utilizing developers as software quality assurance specialists. Cross-training is great, but not at the expense of your product.
Choosing Your Outsourced Software QA Partner
The right SQA company will share your goal of creating a high-quality product. They will use their collective knowledge to solve problems and innovate on your company’s behalf. But how do you know which SQA provider to partner with? (Hint: it’s probably not the cheapest one, sort of like finding a good mechanic. Backyard Joe might be cheap — but does he really know what he’s doing?)
Here are questions to ask when you interview SQA providers:
- What level of success do they enjoy across different markets? Are they specialists in mobile, web, eCommerce, analytics, IoT, security, ect?
- What are their processes? Are they Agile? DevOps focused? How do they ‘get things done’?
- What kinds of test solutions do they provide/recommend/specialize in? Functionality? Automation? Load and Performance? Usability?
- What safeguards are in place to ensure business continuity and, if a situation arises, keep your software development on track?
Sure, it can take a bit of time and legwork to answer these questions. But, by doing so you’ll be armed with the right knowledge to make the right decision for your company. Remember, outsourced quality assurance is a strategic leveraging of competencies. Knowing where yours, and the QA providers, lie is the key to developing a software QA outsourcing plan that meets the needs of your business.