Software Test Outsourcing

Software Test Outsourcing for Small Projects

Most companies need a little help periodically from a software testing company. The requirement for software test outsourcing could exist in a software development company pushing out a new release; in an enterprise with an internal software project at a critical point in development; or in a web app agency rushing to meet a seasonal deadline. One soon discovers that finding a reliable provider able and willing to tackle a small, short-term project is really difficult. Here’s the problem:

A. Most software test outsourcing companies won’t take a small project

B. If they do, the software testing company can’t get started quickly enough to make a difference

Huh? Yeah, in most cases, if your project isn’t at least a couple of people for a couple of weeks (or more), then they aren’t interested in helping you.

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Why Most Software Test Outsourcing Firms Don’t Want Your Small Project

Why? Most outsourced software testing companies have a high overhead with a couple levels of managers. The effort involved to win a sale and deliver the services for a day or two of work just isn’t worth it to them. There’s just not enough profit left over for your project to be worth their time.

When I founded TESTCo in 2002 I purposefully structured the company in a way that enables us to handle on-demand software testing (for small and large projects) as well as the long-term projects where we are the outsourced QA department for the client.
At TESTCo, our minimum software test outsourcing project is 1 Test Engineer for 1 working day.

How can we do that? We keep our overhead very low, and employ the sharpest, most efficient test engineers and QA managers in the business. (That’s right, even small projects are assigned a QA Manager).

If you find yourself needing some help with software testing, no matter how small, give us a call. Here’s a sample of the types of testing we expertly conduct for companies just like yours every day.

Functional Software Testing
Manual Software Testing
Ad hoc Software Testing
Software Test Automation
Software Load Testing
Software Performance Testing
Software Test Planning & Strategy
On Demand Software Testing
Web Application Testing

How TESTCo Can Help with Your Small Software Test Outsourcing Project

Small software projects are different than large ones and need to be approached differently so that as much quality is delivered as quickly as possible. “Just Test It!” won’t quite do it but neither do you need a bunch of quality control and planning overhead.  So, how does TESTCo perform software test outsourcing for small projects and still deliver what you need?

Here’s how

  • We conduct a quick but thorough scoping via a web meeting. No more than 90 minutes.  You show us what you’ve built, tell us the story and your goals (and budget) for the current release.
  • We have our QA Managers work with a Sr Test Engineer to conduct a quick evaluation and let you know the best way to accomplish your quality, release and budget goals. (There’s a whole bunch of details about how we select the best QA methods to give you the most testing coverage but I won’t bore you with that here)
  • If you like our approach and proposal, sign some simple contracts and we can get started the next day.
  • Once we start testing for you, you’ll see at least twice daily status reports so that you are always well informed on where we are in the plan and what we’ve accomplished.
  • We will record any defect we find in your system, and if you don’t have one, we’ll use ours at no additional charge.
  • You’ll see our progress on a daily basis and we can change directions quickly if you need us to quickly retest and defects that you’ve already fixed.
  • Once we’re finished, we’ll ask you to say something nice about us so we can add that to our long and rowing list of testimonials.
  • We are also pretty good at checking back in so you’ll also hear from us approximately monthly to see if you need any more help.

That’s it!  Exactly what you need, delivered within a day or so, with the detail and professionalism that you’d expect from a seasoned software test outsourcing partner!

 

 

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web application testing

Web Application Testing Case Study

How Comprehensive, Tightly Managed Web Application Testing Enabled PDS to Keep a Critical Commitment to Customers.

 

 About Pharmacy Development Services

Pharmacy Development Services helps pharmacies develop critical and fundamental business principles that allow them to operate successfully. Their services, systems and software allow pharmacy owners to strategically plan and execute pharmacy-specific operational, training and marketing programs.

Event Deadline and a Project in Shambles

Pharmacy Development Services was in a difficult situation. They were trying to create a new member services platform to improve the way their clients access key information, cooperative resources, communities and connections.

The software project, dubbed PDS Advantage, was to replace an antiquated seven-year-old platform that wasn’t living up to the needs of their pharmacy clients.

After months of development, the look and feel of the new web application was on target, but the functionality wasn’t there yet. “It seemed like there were a lot of elements working . .  until they didn’t,” said Kelley Babcock, Chief Operating Officer at PDS.

“It was difficult for me to sift through all the technical stuff and determine who needed to be responsible for what and who was letting us down on our team – both internally and externally.” The company’s marketing agency should have been conducting web application testing during the development process, but they overlooked some key people and process issues.

Adding to the stress, was that the new software needed to launch at their yearly business development conference in Orlando, Florida. The February conference was only a month away, and they had scheduled their CEO to be on stage, demonstrating the new software and promoting its virtues. Client attendees were already looking forward to the big reveal.

The crisis ramped up even more in early January, just a month away from the show. “It became painfully apparent to me that we didn’t have an internal project plan, and we lacked a scope of work that would allow us to confidently hit the milestones necessary for a show date launch.” explained Babcock. They also wanted to have PDS members try the solution right after the conference.

“If we failed to meet the show deadline, the level of customer dissatisfaction level would have been astronomical,” said Babcock. “That may sound melodramatic, but even if 20% to 30% of our members were highly dissatisfied, it would have been catastrophic. If we lost 20% of our member base, for example, that kind of outcome was just unthinkable to us.”

TESTCo Rescue

In early January, PDS sent up an SOS signal to TESTCo. “Our credibility and the reputation of our CEO and founder Dan Benamoz was on the line,” said Babcock. “Fortunately, the minute I raised the alarm, Dan said, ‘I know who we have to call immediately!’” Benamoz and TESTCo’s founder, Jeff Hotz, belong to the same business strategy group, so the timing and support relationship were impeccable.

The companies made the proper introductions, and things went into crisis management mode. Babcock led daily meetings to navigate TESTCo employees through the challenges at hand. “I was driving those meetings,” said Babcock. “In non-crisis times, the COO is usually not the one drilling down to that level.”

“I was protecting our dedication to the user experience,” she continued. TESTCo’s Cristina Nistor led a team of developers, strategists and web application testing experts to manage the project.

“Cristina and her team worked continually behind the scenes to make sure the member experience was seamless and flawless,” said Babcock. “Cristina was our white knight in shining armor.”

A Comprehensive Web Application Testing Solution

TESTCo made sure every link, every function and every click behaved exactly how it should in the PDS Advantage application. They tested the application on every known browser and device, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, desktops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, Androids and Windows Phones.

“I felt like the testing process was extremely comprehensive,” said Babcock. The project management software includes message boards, a resource library, implementation tools and internal communication features that each pharmacy can use. It’s pre-loaded with more than 40 turnkey programs designed specifically for pharmacists. If one of the pharmacies wants to implement a free children’s’ vitamin program, for example, the system makes it really easy. They search for ‘free children’s vitamins,’ and up comes a template with every step and resource needed to launch a comprehensive program. The resources include team training processes, marketing collateral, policies and more. All the user needs to do is search, download, assign tasks to their team and put a due date on the project.

“Our clients went to school to be pharmacists,” explained Babcock. “They didn’t go to school to become trainers, marketers, and operations managers. With our software solution, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel and do all heavy lifting on their own. That’s a huge benefit. They get to do what they do best – pharmacology.”

Just In Time

Even though they were working on a tight deadline and the tasks were highly technical, Babcock was easily able to follow their progress. “TESTCo put things into a language that was easy to understand and describe,” she said. “We were getting into the weeds, but our collaboration was delightful. You never thought about it as drudgery. I liked the personal connection.” That personal connection even went so far as to include changing languages. “When TESTCo found out that our marketing strategist for service delivery, Omar Avila, spoke Spanish, they started holding those meetings in Spanish, which was nice.”

When the PDS business development conference finally arrived, they were ready to go. CEO Benamoz took the stage and introduced the app, their marketing lead paced through some of the new features, and customers were able to test drive the new application right there at the show. “The confidence we felt was a direct result of TESTCo’s efforts,” said Babcock.

“Without that final push, we would have had to apologize, iterate and continue developing the software well past the conference,” said Babcock. “Because of TESTCo, we didn’t have to do that.”

Key: A Strong Project Lead

Babcock credits a lot of the project’s success to TESTCo QA Manager Cristina Nistor. “She’s highly competent with great attention to detail, follow through, and execution,” said Babcock. “She could look at our processes and people – all the moving parts of the project – and isolate, identify and advise on next steps. Her level of expertise allowed me to have confidence that we’d get it done right before the show.”

The weeks leading up to the business development conference were tense for all involved, but everything worked out. “It was an unparalleled, exceptional experience in terms of service, competency, and advisory guidance,” said Babcock. “We couldn’t have done it without the TESTCo’s web application testing team.”

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automate software testing

Automate Software Testing to Deliver Quality Complex Apps

Software and mobile apps are getting more complex every day. Users want more and more capabilities to complete their work quickly and enjoy their lives more fully. As software and mobile apps add features, they grow and require more time to fully test.  If you automate software testing properly, better software and happier customers will result.

Increasing the number of customers that want to use your software is fantastic! Even better, they are actively requesting more features – that means they intend to stick around rather than bail out and use another app.

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But, this growth in features comes with some distinct challenges – here are just a few related to your software and mobile app.

  1. Your software/app becomes more “crowded” with features, links and buttons – simplicity is usually a strong market driver and this complexity has to be managed carefully.  How will you increase features and still maintain a usable application?
  2. Your customers need support for a wider variety of operating systems, browsers, devices.  Again, this a great news but a big challenge to your development team as each operating system, browser and device has “little quirks” that are unique to it.  How will you know?
  3. Your software testing team becomes overloaded.  Not only because of the added features but also because of the number of operating systems, browser and devices that need to be tested.  How can all of the possible combinations be tested?
  4. Your developers begin “refactoring” the code to improve maintainability.  What? At some point in the life cycle of a software application, the developers will begin to recognize repeating patterns and behaviors within the app.  To make it easier and less time-consuming to maintain and improve in the future, the developers will begin replacing several unique code items with a single common function.  This is great and definitely improves both the software application and time to maintain, but it can also break things.  This “refactoring” happens all the time and is the leading cause of functions “breaking” when they worked previously.  Only detailed regression testing will find when this happens.  Automating software testing helps the regression testing go faster and at a lower cost.

Intelligently Automate Software Testing

What does this mean? Very simply, it means that you will need to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your software testing team.  Here are some tips to help you improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your software testing team.

  1. Make sure your requirements and test cases are TIGHT!  Take a little extra time to make sure that you have accurate requirements with specific test cases.  This prevents much uncertainty when building and executing your software testing plan.
  2. Manually test the newest features.  New features are subject to change.  Older features tend to be more static.  Manually test new features until they stabilize enough to invest in test automation.
  3. Use Software Test Automation to handle the majority of your regression testing for older, more stable features.  A best practice is to treat your software test automation effort just like you would a software development effort.  You will reduce risk and improve your likelihood of achieving your goals if you take this approach. Tips on maintaining software automation testing suites.
  4. Hire a Software Test Automation expert to guide you through selecting the best software test automation tool set and strategy.  The learning curve for test automation is steep and expensive.  A proven, experienced expert can help you quickly select the best tools, strategy and plan to achieve your software quality and customer satisfaction goals.

 

Mistakes to Avoid when you Automate Software Testing

It’s easy to get in a mess when you automate software testing.  Here are some of the problems we’ve seen when we were asked to fix a “broken” software test automation system.

  1. Pick the Wrong Software Test Automation Tool – selecting the primary software test automation tool (or platform) is challenging.  You’ll need to compare your current technology stack AND future application/technical growth plans with the very long list currently available tools.  Hint – don’t automatically select the one your QA Team has used before – it might not be the best for your situation.
  2. Just Start Writing Scripts – Test Automation Scripts are the fuel that is fed to the test automation engine when you begin to automation software testing.  If you fail to use test cases and a test case management system, you run the risk of building an un-maintainable system to automate your software testing.

At TESTCo, we have been helping companies automate software testing since 2003.  Let us help you pick the best path to achieve your customer satisfaction and software development goals.

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Software Automated Testing for Business Risk Mitigation

You worry about your business every day. Do you worry about the software that runs your business every day? Testing the software that makes your business run makes good business sense. You give employees performance reviews. It’s time to test the performance of your mission critical software too. In many cases software automated testing can be used to ensure top performance.

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If you’re in business then you almost certainly have software of some kind. It may be a simple store front eCommerce application or it may be a large and complex order processing system. Either way, I bet there are times you wonder and worry about your software. Will it work okay for everyone all the time?  Will it crash under a high load of customers? What if a new prospect can’t get what they need?

But, what if you didn’t have to wonder and worry? What if you could know, at any time, how your software is working and performing? What other (better) purposes would you use your thinking time for?

Most small and medium sized businesses do not invest in software quality. Most large companies invest heavily in software quality. The failure rate for small and medium sized businesses is approximately 50% after 5 years. The failure rate for large companies?  Almost Zero! Is investing in software quality the cause for this?  I doubt it. But, consider that a broken ecommerce or order processing system can definitely cause your business to fail.

We’ve shared a lot about what we’ve learned about this type of software testing. Here are more of our thoughts about software test automation.

Manual and Automated Software Testing for SMBs

Generally speaking, there are two aspects of software quality that are important to small and medium sized businesses.

  1. Does it work right when it is first built?
  2. Does it continue working properly as time goes by?

Item #1 can be addressed by using a dedicated software testing team to work with your team during the time you are building, improving or upgrading your software.

Item #2 can be address by using automated software testing that monitors the performance and accuracy of your software over time as you make enhancements and take upgrades.

The typical budget for investing in software quality using either functional software testing or software test automation is about 15% of your total project budget.

From a risk premium standpoint, 15% may appear to be large, but when you consider the consequences of a software failure and losing business during the down time, it may be a worthwhile investment.

If you wonder and worry about your software and how it will impact your business, please contact us and we’ll be happy to share what we’ve learned over the past 13 years of automated software testing, manual software testing and outsourced quality assurance.

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