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Best Practices for Software Testing Outsourcing

You do not need your ISEB or ISTQB certification to realize that software is becoming more and more complex each and every year.  In general, today’s software applications feature loads of advanced functionality, and are increasingly interdependent on other systems, platforms and applications.  Thus, the process of testing software for bugs is much more complicated than it was even 10 short years ago. 

For large organizations, this is generally not a problem because they can tap into additional resources if necessary.  But small companies often struggle to keep up with the accelerating pace of change, and this can lead to faulty products, reduced employee morale, and ultimately slashed profit margins.  For companies in this latter scenario, outsourcing the software testing function can be a viable alternative.

Outsourcing can be beneficial because outsourced vendors are software testing specialists, so you can be reasonably confident that the vendors are up-to-date and can accomplish the job in a highly effective and efficient manner.  Additionally, vendors are not restricted by your company’s deadlines or political structure.  All of these factors can lead to cost savings as well as better quality products. 

With that being said, outsourcing can sometimes be a tough sell.  Some companies may be reluctant to “give up the farm” to an external provider, or they may not fully understand the benefits or process associated with outsourcing. 

Luckily, these concerns can be mitigated with a little bit of effort.  Step one is for the company to research the software testing outsourcing market.  This can be done either internally, or through a commissioned research company.  Doing this will allow the benefits to be quantified, and the strategy to be fleshed out.  Visibility into this information should help the decision-makers feel more comfortable with the approach.

Additionally, it is a good idea to dedicate a full time employee to oversee the process.  With a single point of contact, communication will be improved and the end result will be better.  Finally, risks can be minimized by using contacts that spell out the job, the desired results, the fully loaded costs, the timetable, etc.  Having everything on paper and endorsed by both sides will eliminate ambiguities down the road. 

The bottom line is that outsourcing can be scary for a company’s decision makers, even if they understand the need to do it.  But this anxiety can be greatly reduced if the company has a clear understanding of the process, costs, and evaluation metrics, especially if these items are documented in a legal contract.

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