Onshore v Offshore QA Testing: A Guide For Selecting the Best Solution for Your Company
It’s a whole new world of remote opportunities and software, app, and web developers are seeing and experiencing that collaborating with teams in different locations does not mean the death of productivity. In fact, software testing is one arena that has been successfully navigating remote partnerships for decades.
Though there are many variables that come with choosing the right QA testing partner, one key factor many companies focus on is the location of the QA testing company. Onshore and offshore web and software testing services can offer very different benefits, so depending on your needs, there are pros and cons to consider when selecting a software testing company.
A Baseline for QA Comparison
Before we dive into the comparisons, let’s establish a baseline definition for our conversation:
- An onshore software testing company is typically referring to a company in the same city or a city within the same country.
- Offshore testing takes place outside of the country where the hiring company is based – often in locations like the Caribbean, Ukraine, and India.
- A third option includes what is referred to as near-shore testing. Near-shore testing companies are typically located in the same time-zone, but outside of the home country and may be in cheaper labor markets like Mexico.
As you would expect, each testing resource has advantages and disadvantages. We put together this resource to help you choose between onshore and offshore software testing.
Pros of Onshore QA Testing
When the software, app, or website being tested is more complicated and requires focused coordination and frequent interfacing with internal teams, onshore services will likely be a preferred solution. Two often critical advantages of engaging onshore testing partners are security and cultural alignment. These and other advantages to consider when evaluating onshore vs offshore partners include:
- Face-to-face communication: Onshore testing enables real-time detection and communication of emerging issues and so it allows for more efficient problem-solving (and by face-to-face, we mean Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or even Slack calls).
- More effective communication: With no significant time zone or cultural differences, the risk of misunderstandings within teams is significantly reduced. This also means that onshore testers are more likely to find edge cases in the testing process.
- Less security risks: While both onshore and offshore testing companies have strict security protocols in place, countries where onshore companies are based will typically have stricter security laws.
- Improved time to market: When factoring in the above benefits, the speed to get your software to market is greatly improved.
- Longer contract terms: Offshore companies may push for you to sign up for a full-time ongoing team. If your requirements are going to be more project-based, an onshore software testing company may be a better fit as they can easily provide both project and longer-term testing. Offshore testing companies may also require change fees when you look to adjust your testing requirements.
Pros of Offshore QA Testing
Software testing offshore is often considered an advantage when pricing is a key factor and when the task is simple enough for lesser experienced staff with limited direction. Offshore QA is also a more common choice when there isn’t a need for tight coordination and time zone overlap is not an impediment. Other pros of offshore testing include:
- Uninterrupted work cycles: Partnering with an offshore team will usually allow for a 9 to 13-hour difference. As the engineers in your home country complete a workday, offshore testing teams can carry on with the project. Though it requires implementing a robust digital communications platform, you can essentially develop a non-stop production process.
- Lower initial costs: The cost of large IT projects can be cheaper when outsourced to countries with low labor costs. These low-cost markets can offer significant initial savings.
- Access to a large and skilled talent pool: Many offshore testing companies are based in countries where IT degrees are promoted by local governments. In India, for example, over 1.5 million engineers graduate every year from over 2,000 engineering schools.
Survey Results Suggest a Preference for Onshore Testing
In 2008, during the Software Test & Performance Conference, an in-depth survey was conducted to determine the quality and overall cost based on the location of the QA and testing team. The survey included over 200 participants, of which over 82% were directly involved with the technical QA and testing activities. Participants included managers, directors, and technical personnel.
The results of the survey represent the technical QA and testing community’s collective view on offshore software testing. While the survey was conducted over a decade ago, the results are still very relevant especially where efficiencies and productivity are concerned. While QualityLogic was not directly involved in the survey, we think it is important to provide a perspective from those who were so you can make informed choices.
5 Factors Determining QA Testing Cost
- Geographical proximity: Participants were asked whether the geographical closeness of the QA and testing team to the development and domain expert teams affects the quality of the system delivered. Over 88% of the survey participants claimed that closer proximity between the development and testing teams improves the overall quality.
- Management attention: When a testing solution demands less attention from management, significant cost savings are realized in the overall project budget. The survey results were slightly in favor of onshore testing for requiring less management interaction. About 55% of the participants in the survey answered that onshore testing requires less attention from management.
- Communication: Good communication is crucial to the success of any project. The survey asked if there is a difference in the number of communication problems between offshore software testing and onshore testing. The majority of the participants, over 60%, claimed that onshore testing solutions can eliminate most communication problems.
- Control over the work being done: Delivering a project on time is achieved with tight control of the entire scope and life cycle of the project. Late delivery can have a devastating effect on the overall budget and product costs. Almost 80% of survey participants believed onshore testing results in greater control over the work being done compared to offshore testing.
- Quality versus the number of people: When there is a need to increase the level of QA testing, there is a natural desire to increase the number of people. However, increasing expertise and professionalism may be a more effective solution. In the survey, close to 60% of the participants claimed that onshore testing can maintain or improve the level of testing with fewer people than offshore testing.
Again, these survey results provide a perspective that we think is important to communicate when determining a QA testing partner, but it is also important to note that QA testing has continued to evolve both on and offshore over the past decade. The strengths of offshore testing can often complement onshore services which is why some companies have chosen to implement both options as a hybrid solution.
Hybrid: Offshore Execution with Onshore Oversite
Some companies offer a hybrid model known as Onsite-Offshore consisting of an onshore, local project lead to oversee an offshore team. A clear strategy and outline of responsibilities must be managed accordingly for the process to work. That collaboration can be complex but if managed with detail and consistency, it can be successful. Some implementations to consider include:
- Communicate often and communicate effectively.
- Have a list of To-Do’s for one another and make sure you are working on the list and updating each other on the progress.
- Be considerate of the time zone differences. If it helps, check-in for a few minutes before you even start to work with the Onsite coordinator (at a reasonable hour of the day) so you know what is expected of you.
Advantages of Onsite-Offshore Testing Model
- If used properly, this model can ensure that there is work going on every minute of the 24 hours on a project.
- Direct client interaction helps in better communication and also improves the business relationship.
- Cost-effective – Offshore teams cost less than setting up the entire QA team onsite.
- Considerations of the time zone differences and manage expectations accordingly.
So Which Is Better? Offshore or Onshore QA Testing?
Well, it depends on your goals. What our research suggests is that the onshore vs offshore benefits will vary and are usually driven by the specifics of the project and requirements. Just like any business operation, success tends to be in the details.
Understanding the details of exactly what you need is key in choosing what type of QA testing company you partner with. While offshore testing can offer cost savings in labor and around the clock work-cycles, it’s difficult to match onshore testing for complex projects that require face-to-face collaboration as well as clear and real-time communications. To get the best results, determine what is most important to you and your project, then choose your model accordingly.
We hope this advice will help in determining what you need, when you need it, with confidence in your strategies and success for your future. If you’re looking for further guidance, reach out for a free support call and we’ll help you find the best fit for you.
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