A major paradigm shift with respect to software testing has been happening lately. More and more companies are outsourcing testing activates to testing vendors. This helps the in-house teams to concentrate more on development and means better quality of testing in most cases.
But selecting the right vendor is not that easy. Imagine a situation where your vendor does not perform the right kind of testing or leaks out your application data to a competitor or does not maintain the same security standards. Damn! Sends a shiver down your spine, right?
But let us not be very pessimistic, there are several advantages of outsourcing your testing work to a vendor. What is important here is how we chose a Company. While there are no hard and fast rules, here we discuss a few pointers which you should consider while selecting your software testing partner. Let us start.
1. Company Background Check
Many vendors would promise your great rates, the best tools in the market, the finest quality of testing services, the shortest delivery time, and so on. Do not fall for these gimmicks. Do thorough scrutiny of the vendor, check for reviews, clientele, returning clients, etc. Also, check and confirm if your partner is doing the work themselves or sub-contracting to another vendor.
2. How much to outsource
If it is the first time you are dealing with a vendor go in for an incremental approach. Outsource smaller modules or stand-alone units and assess the Company on grounds like the quality of testing, quality of the bugs found, on-time delivery, proper communication, defect triage support, etc. Once you have the confidence start giving them more work.
3. Detailed service-level agreement (SLA)
A detailed SLA would ideally include the timelines, the communication pattern, summary of the project, milestones, etc. It will also have a guideline for the processes to be followed in different situations. This way you are legally saved from crooks and bogus vendors. Yes, an SLA is legally bound once signed by authoritative people from both parties.
4. Data/Intellectual Property Security
Data is of the utmost importance when it comes to a software product. When you decide to outsource your software product to a vendor, you need to make sure that the data, design, and personal information are not compromised. It should be clearly conveyed to them that any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is not copied, transferred, or shared with anyone else. If possible, try to mask the important data with dummy data too. You may also consider adding this as a clause in the SLA for legal security.
In most cases, the idea of outsourcing comes from cost reduction and improving the bandwidth of the in-house team for delivery. Often this cost reduction is achieved by choosing vendors and partners in emerging markets like India. While India still is better choosing a vendor from far-flung remote areas could create logistical issues like visa, accommodation, etc. when you want to visit. As silly as it may sound it is an important part of your partnership, so visit your partner and verify the team you will be working with.
6. Value a skilled team
Always remember quality comes at a price and that quality is more important than quantity. A vendor who promises to be a jack of all trades in testing may end up being a master of none. So, select a vendor who specializes in the niche you are looking for, irrespective of the other types of testing resources it. This may need some more effort on your part to find the vendor but trust me you will not regret it. In the long run, it would more profitable and help you get a product to the market as well.
7. Communication Plan
This is another critical factor that people overlook. Often the vendor would be from a developing nation in a different time zone. In such cases, without a proper communication strategy, you would end up losing a lot of time to get things sorted out. Set clear communication goals with your partner; ensure that there is an overlapping working time zone between you and the vendor to sort out issues faster. Ensure timely communication. This again can be included in the SLA that the vendor needs to respond to questions and queries within a specified period.
8. Domain Expertise
A vendor who has resources with zero or very limited expertise in your domain could be a big challenge for your delivery timeline. Resources with no experience in your domain would take a lot of time scale-up to understand the terms and conditions, the acronyms, process, etc. This, in turn, would slow down the execution. An expert in your domain on the other would be faster in testing and may also be able to suggest improvements in the process flow and design.
9. Improvement in Quality
The focus of outsourcing software testing to a vendor is to achieve higher quality through independent verification and validation. Ensure the vendor you chose can help you with that. The contract should be fruitful for you and your product. You would not want to associate with a vendor if your product goes to production and comes back with several production issues. Choose your Company wisely.
10. Industry Position
You may want to give a new entrant a chance but if you want to be safe it would be better to go for a vendor who has been in the business for a longer time and has a good returning clientele. The reasons are self-explanatory.
Finding the right software testing Company can be a tough job with 100’s of vendors out their bidding their best to get your contract. But be judicious and choose a Company that will help you get a quality product instead of just pass/fail reports and bugs list. You must also view it as an extension of your own company to create a fulfilling long-term relationship for both parties. Think wise, take your time, analyze and be judicious. The above points should help you get started.