Outsourcing Testing and QA: Is it Feasible, Advisable, Risky?
(photo by spekulator)
The exciting part of IT is, every several years there are always new trend in the industry where most of the people, even the experts and big companies, are riding the bandwagon. The new trend that promises that it will save costs, bring more productivity, and everything in between. The trend that usually disrupt the existing way of work and creates the pros and cons party.
Few years ago, such trend is outsourcing, and people and organizations have experienced it. Some had positive experience, some had negative ones, and some other had, probably, a bit traumatizing times.
This blog topic will dicuss my point of view about outsourcing, and in particular outsourcing the testing and QA of a software development. The articles that we’ll look at are:
The Cons of Outsourcing Test
The first article had a few questions about whether or not outsource the QA, and answers why it’s not a good idea.
1. It involves many things to different people.
It likens quality to management, so outsourcing quality is like outsourcing management.
2. Having people working together from day to day is just the way to go.
There is a strong relationship between coding and testing, separating them by outsourcing the testing will do more harm.
3. Natural trust-barrier between team members.
The disadvantage with outsourcing is that the QA professionals aren’t part of our organization. It’s natural that some trust-barrier and other relationship differences will occur.
The Pros of Outsourcing Testing
There are several reasons given to support outsourcing the QA team, but we’ll discuss few of them here.
1. Minimize Costs
Probably the most common reason for outsourcing. Outsourcing experts means no additional hiring of in-house testers is needed, which will require long-time commitment.
2. Equipment, Facilities, Testing Tools, Environments
For some projects, they require certain types of equipments, facilities, tools, and environments. Setting up these for only a short-term, or small project can be costly while outsourcing can give access to them immediately.
3. Reliable and Independent Results
Although maybe debatable, there are times when outside professionals are needed to test the software to get a more objective results.
For more advantages of outsourcing QA in the article, you can read the article.
What Do I Think
Is it feasible?
I believe it is. When even the development process can be outsourced, I think QA can also be outsourced. Despite the strong oppposition we found from the first article, considering a good number of company specializing in providing outsource testing prove that it works.
Problems will always be there, and mostly will probably related to the flow of communication. This can get even more challenging if the testing is outsourced to offshore. Yet, after years in business, these outsource QA companies must’ve learned what works and what not.
Is it advisable?
It depends on the organization’s situation. In an ideal world we’ll have the resources we need for a project, but for companies who are just starting and doesn’t have the resources to hire full-time QA professionals for a long-term, outsourcing can be the best option for the situation.
This way, the aspiring company can focus on creating the solutions, and leverage on the expertise of the outsourced QA to test that the solutions don’t break. The outsourced QA may even give an independent view, based on their experience.
As the company gets more stable and able of investing in a product for the long term, then they can hire QA professionals and keep them as the company assets, because they will have more knowledge of the product and it is easier to communicate with people in the company.
Is it risky?
This time it depends on the nature of the project. Some project maybe a very competitive project or involve sensitive information, in that the secrecy is mandatory. Example of this could be government or military projects. In this case, outsourcing the QA would mean inviting outside people to validate the solution, and seeing those information.
For other type of project, I believe the risk is not on the outsourcing itself, but to WHOM the testing is outsourced.
Choosing the right company to outsource is very important and should be taken carefully. Although it is said that outsourcing can save the company cost, it doesn’t mean that all outsource company are equal. Choosing the wrong one will probably cost a lot more, in terms of cost and time.
Another way to minimize the risk is to decide which part of the QA need to be outsourced. I don’t think a company can outsource the whole QA process to external organization because they are less likely to have a sense of ownership for the company’s product.
So? To Outsource or Not To Outsource?
I believe taking any of the extreme side is never good. Although outsourcing QA may look very foolish for some people, we should not close our eyes to some of the clear advantages that a software project can get by leveraging the expertise of outsource QA companies.
Having said that, outsourcing all of the QA process may not be such a good idea because the software quality is an integral part of a company and should be taken seriously (unless of course, the company is not serious about it’s software quality). 🙂