Digitization has disrupted existing business models, processes, and strategies, but some factors continue to remain constant, i.e. cost, time-to-market and experience. Of the three, customer experience has taken precedence, making quality assurance a non-negotiable constant.
Over the years, quality assurance has been associated with different implications including certifications and functionalities. Today, quality assurance is all about people or customers and their personal experience with a product or solution. This makes sense when we view the world from the perspective of Internet of Things and digital transformation, where personal experiences define a brand’s efficacy. QA organizations, therefore, are evolving to include social and psychological impacts to value delivery. Value delivery includes cost, and time saved where QA plays a pivotal role in a project from its requirement stage to ensure that non-productive time spent in the last phase for testing is eliminated.
In its new avatar, QA is instrumental in developing and launching a successful project. QA is built into all aspects of a project and instrumental in process improvement as well as defect management in agile testing, security testing, accessibility testing, performance testing, and user acceptance testing. In an agile environment, the mantra is “test early and test often”.
QA is an integral part of a project, from reviewing user stories with business analysts, as they are created to ensuring that they meet the ‘testable’ criteria. They create test cases well before the start of a sprint to facilitate a test-driven development (TDD). They will work side-by-side with developers and will be responsible for the entire deployment of the quality assurance environment.
With QA playing such a pivotal role in a project, the question which often arises is, ‘How would offshoring QA work? Will it be beneficial? And, what does it actually involve?’
Most companies that have their in-house or software development arms, will have a testing team in place. QA cannot be confused with this team. In the new world, quality assurance requires skills and experience which can only be met by seasoned QA professionals whose job is to focus on delivering best-in-class solutions.
Secondly, the cost and quality of software testing programming language can affect the overall cost of a project. In some cases, it is estimated that testing can cost up to 40% of a project’s overall cost. Intangible costs can include poor test execution, lowered customer satisfaction, higher operating costs, and increased business risk. CIO’s, therefore, at least in the last decade or so, have opted to offshore their testing work to save on both tangible and intangible costs.
Offshoring QA especially makes a lot of sense for SMBs with tight budgets. These companies normally defer QA to the end which results in a less stable product. Having a team that works within the budget makes more sense. In this model, the core team will be retained on a long-term basis and a flexible team can be added/reduced based on the ebb and flow of the project. This option provides faster ramp-up and flexible ramp-down of testing resources.
Also, the follow-the-sun model makes great sense for offshore testing. Imagine a team working on functionality in the day and another team across the world testing it the same day. The hours saved add up to make complete business sense.
When considering strategic business management off-shored quality assurance in software testing can result in better quality applications, reduce business risks and improve existing critical testing processes. Having said that, the key to success is in finding the right offshoring partner. Companies that are considering offshoring their QA, along with looking at cost savings must look at the competencies and capabilities of the partner company.
Some critical factors to be kept in mind when considering offshoring are:
More often than not, the word offshoring is considered synonymous with cost savings but to actually reap the benefits of saved budget and time with exemplary results requires rock-star testers and not a pool of untrained workers offering cheaper rates.
- Industry Experience
As we already know each industry is different and has its own unique business processes. Having a team of great testers with no clue about a business will only end up slowing down the testing efforts. One must choose a team of QA professionals with strong industry knowledge to ensure that the areas with the highest level of business impact get the highest testing priority.
- Technology Frameworks and Best Practices
QA professionals should ideally have some unique intellectual property and best practices that they bring with them. A team which has successfully completed multiple projects will have a set of best practices, accelerators, methodologies and tool kits to accelerate the testing efforts and reduce time to market.
- Cultural Fit
When considering offshoring, especially of testing services, cultural fit becomes paramount to the project’s success. Cultural fit is acquired only by working with partners who have managed projects in the geographies under consideration. It is only with experience that an offshore team can communicate, work at the required pace, and deal with issues as and when they arise. In addition, if you need a large managed service, it is also important to have an on-site lead to ensure accountability.
- Agile is important
The role of testing in agile practices is already recognized and yet several organizations struggle to integrate testing and quality into their agile delivery methods. A partner who understands how testing ‘fits’ into the development effort will work to resolve problems on the go to ensure that the product is not delayed.
To summarize, when identifying a partner, a company must trust the partner’s suggestion on the engagement model. The QA partner should be able to mobilize people, knowledge acquisition, infrastructure and processes. The next step would be for the independent QA and testing team to integrate seamlessly with the project team. The QA team should have strong industry knowledge and translate this into user experience. This knowledge will define the project’s overall flow.
Keeping these critical factors in mind, and with a well-defined strategy in hand, a successful QA offshore engagement is possible. Add one more ingredient, i.e. trust, and the project is set up for success.