software qa outsourcing first steps

Selecting the First Project for a Software QA Outsourcing Partner

Once you’ve selected the best software qa outsourcing partner, what’s the preferred way to start working together?

With 13 years of software testing experience to back me up, I recommend that the first project should be a low risk project. Why lowest risk and not highest priority? Two words – risk mitigation.

How to Mitigate Risk with a New Software QA Partner

Yes, you want to get this team working on the highest priority tasks as quickly as possible but, take just a little more time to make sure they can deliver the software QA outsourcing that you were promised in the proposal.

The best place for your initial test of their delivery is not your highest and most important task. The best place to test your new outsourced software testing company is in an area where you already have a good idea of the quality of your application.

Why redo work that’s already done? Three words – it’s a test.

When you assign your software test outsourcing to an area of your application where you already have a very good idea of the overall quality of your application, you can then easily compare your quality results with their quality results and measure their effectiveness.

I recommend taking no more than 2-3 days to perform this test. It generally takes us a day to get up to speed on a client’s application and within a day or so afterward, we can provide a good picture of the overall quality of the software application we have been asked to test.

But, this step should also have another test built into it. And it’s a secret test!

The Secret Test of Your New Software QA Outsourcing Partner

One of the hardest things to determine in human nature is how someone will react when they are confronted, make a mistake or can’t deliver as promised. This happens every day to each of us and it is critically important to understand how your software QA outsourcing partner is going to behave when these events occur. I promise, those events will occur for them and how they react will be critically important to your overall software quality and production speed.

How do you find out how they will behave when they make a mistake? Two words – secret blocker

What is a “blocker”?

A “blocker” is a task that the software QA outsourcing team needs completed (by someone else) before they can continue with their work. Think of a SQL Script that needs to be run by the DBA so that the test database is set and configured properly for testing or a config file that needs to be set by the sysadmin – both items that need to be done before your software testing company can perform their assigned tasks.

What happens if it is 4AM in your location, 10AM in their location and they can’t do their work?

This happens more than you might expect and it sets up you and your software qa outsourcing partner for at least a wasted day – if not more! How can you find out now, how they will behave when it happens in the future?

Cause it to happen now!

But, make sure you treat your QA team gently when you do this, OK?

Here’s how to implement the test.

Make sure your testing assignments for your software QA outsourcing team are either missing or unclear on one single step or item they require to complete their work. It can be as simple as a missing config file, incorrectly setup database or even a missing or incomplete test plan.

Then, see how they react to this test.

What to Look For During the Secret QA Outsourcing Test

At TESTCo, we have three ways that we address this potential issue.

  1. We always have a Plan B so that if Plan A fails, we can continue working while the problem with Plan A is resolved. The client sees our daily, weekly and sprint planning in our Daily Planning Report. In fact, planning is so important to us that we have it embedded right into our culture – Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.
  2. Raise Your Hand!  The minute we realize that something is missing we immediately document the situation just like we would document a defect. Our documentation on the issue will contain everything needed to reproduce the issue and it will be sent as soon as possible to the client QA Manager and the TESTCo QA Manager for “first thing in the morning” resolution.
  3. Follow Up in The Daily Outcomes Report. We issue two email reports each day and the Daily Outcomes Report comes at the end of our workday and summarizes all of the tasks we’ve completed and value we’ve created. It also has a special section for Blockers so that they are easy to see and track to resolution.

If you follow this system for testing your software QA outsourcing team, you will quickly find out how they perform under pressure and be able to determine if they fit will with your software development team and company culture.

Good communications are vital between an software qa outsourcing partner and the development team. The right kind of daily reports make the difference. In a future post I’ll address the importance of daily test reports.

If you’re looking for a software testing company, I invite you to read my recent post on the topic, Software QA Outsourcing: Where to Begin.

Software QA Outsourcing Where to Begin

Software QA Outsourcing Where to Begin

Finding a good software QA outsourcing company can be a daunting experience, especially if you are new to software QA or seeking better performance from your current software testing provider. The volume of Web search results are almost overwhelming. There are no third-party reviews to speak of. Everyone seems to offer the same software testing services.

How can you tell the difference between a company that consistently delivers and one that just tries really hard?

Analyzing the Customer Testimonials of Software Testing Companies

One sure-fire way to find the right provider for you  is to study each company’s testimonials and actually talk with a few of their clients.

Yes, all the testimonials on a company’s website tend to be positive, but you can learn a lot by the type of companies that appear on the testimonials page and and what is actually said about the service received.

If you care about cultural fit, for instance, do comments reflect how well the outsourced team fit with the development team. If you care about accuracy of communications, or reliability, or integrity, or delivering under stress, look for comments that reflect these characteristics. If you don’t find any, move on. Are there many testimonials from a variety of companies? That’s a good sign of versatility and experience. More than one testimonial from a single customer indicates high satisfaction over time–another positive sign.

Choose the Right Level of Relationship for Your Software Testing Company

Do you only care about low cost, or do you care about value? It’s an important question. Be honest. If you’re just looking for a software testing company to run a few tests and give you a report, there are hundreds of companies scattered around the world that provide that type of commodity service at low prices. You’ll have many to choose from. You can shop price and availability, much like you do at any discount warehouse store.

On the other hand, if you take seriously the quality of your software, and if you want more of a partner relationship than a vendor relationship, the field is much smaller.

How to Spot Value in Software Testing Outsourcing

Let’s say you have a short list of software testing companies. Next step is to call each one to understand their process, philosophy, pricing and expertise. More importantly “listen between the words”. How are you treated on the phone? Like just another transaction for the sales department? Like an un-welcomed interruption for an over-worked tester. Or are you treated like a fellow-business professional?

What questions are you asked? Does the representative ask tactical questions about your budget, code and schedule? That’s important information for the testing company to know, but the elite class of testing companies want to first understand the business problem you face so their testing team can be focused on delivering the right value.

TESTCo is one of the elite software testing companies I referred to above. No matter if your QA project requires manual and functional regression testing, or automation and performance testing, you’ll know within a few minutes on the phone with us if we’re the right outsourced software testing company for you.

Once a testing partner has been selected or identified the next obvious question often is what testing project should be assigned first. My post, “Selecting the First Project for a Software QA Outsourcing Partner”, is valuable reading.