Outsourced Software QA Case Study

TESTCo Software Testing Solutions Make Life Easy for Journyx Product Manager

Meredith Zachritz, director of product management at Journyx, reviews customer requirements and market trends then turns that analysis into products that add significant, tangible value to the organizations that purchase them. Her work includes everything from research, development and QA to product promotion and follow-up support.

At one point, the company tried to outsource software testing to India, but it didn’t quite work. “There were communication issues,” explained Zachritz. “When new releases hit the customer base, code was incredibly buggy.” The ensuing support they had to deliver almost killed the company.

What Zachritz really needed was quality testing leadership, a clear roadmap for QA, and a solid testing management team that could provide highly-skilled engineering talent plus proven best practices.

TESTCo Delivers Testing Solutions Plus Tangible Customer Benefits

Since hiring TESTCo, Zachritz no longer worries about team management, rotations, hiring and training, and she can focus on release plans, software improvement and customer value. “Before, hiring and training interruptions would throw off all my annual release plans,” she said.

TESTCo delivered a complete solution, with a local Quality Assurance Manager (QAM) and an expert team of Testing Engineers (TEs). With TESTCo, Zachritz sees no interruption if a TE is replaced. “We don’t have to go out and do recruiting, hiring or even training” said Zachritz. “It’s just amazing how few interruptions there are.”

Prior to hiring TESTCo, the training piece alone would create an additional two to three weeks of disruption. With TESTCo’s pre-trained team in place, Zachritz plugs in a new TE within minutes of the previous engineer’s departure. Since that person is already trained and ready to go, there’s no lag in productivity.

For Zachritz, the improvements had a direct impact on her job and boosted her confidence in their software quality. The big development? Their latest release was delivered with zero customer found defects. That helped Zachritz look like a superstar within the company. “People here were saying, wow, nobody’s reporting any bugs!” said Zachritz. “It was a story going around the company. It was the highest quality release I can remember.”

That level of confidence was something Zachritz had never experienced beforehand. “I don’t have to worry about it, and I’m confident that I’m delivering a quality product,” she said.

“I don’t have to fight fires and clean up after a release goes out.”

Before, they used to have customer found defects that would generate a cycle of hot fixes, maintenance releases and general rework which would derail their release plan. With TESTCo’s QA, Zachritz didn’t have to worry about fixes and could focus on new valuable features for customers.

The improvements spilled over into other departments. The customer service department noted significant changes. “A lot of our existing customers tell us what wonderful support we have and how quickly we respond to any kind of an issue,” said Zachritz. “We’re just no longer bogged down with a ton of problems.”

Zachritz can now deliver valuable features faster, and get customer input on code that actually works. The results produce a direct impact on sales, since each new release and upgrade represents an opportunity for new revenues from existing and prospective customers. Journyx sales people also benefit. Their confidence in live demos increased exponentially and allowed them to present to clients with no embarrassing crashes.

With TESTCo as an outsource QA testing partner, Zachritz, Journyx, and the company’s customers all emerged victorious with a holistic solution to software development, testing and delivery.

About Journyx

Thousands of companies worldwide employ solutions from Journyx to track and manage their time, expenses and resources. Employees at some of the world’s largest companies use Journyx solutions to increase productivity and save money.

Share This:
software test automation

Software Test Automation Case Study

Journyx has customers worldwide and have been improving their products with software test automation for the past seven years. The company offers customers project, time and expense tracking software, and resource management software for forecasting projects, budget status, and employee time and availability.

Challenges/Pains

Before hiring TESTCo to manage software testing and develop best practices, Journyx was in a world of hurt. Early on, they used company staff and even some family members to bang on new software releases, but that didn’t work so well. This was about 15 years ago. “It’s difficult, repetitive work,” said Journyx CEO Curt Finch. “No one really likes it, and it’s not really a core competency.”

The company wasn’t able to hire more people for testing, but they were always under pressure to release new versions of their products. “We couldn’t get a handle on when our next release would show up and what level of quality it would be. We could say we’re going to ship this come hell or high water by May 1st, but we’d be in danger of shipping broken software.”

“Back then, customers hated us and wanted to shoot us,” said Finch.

Journyx’s director of product management, Meredith Zachritz, had to manage a lot of the chaos at the time. “In the early days, our developers were responsible for testing their own code,” she said. “There were no robust peer code reviews. It was very messy. We just about drove ourselves out of business.”

The company didn’t have an official product manager back then, and they didn’t have the budget to hire testing resources in-house. “I was spending more than 50% of my time on testing and related fire drills,” said Zachritz. “It affected customer retention, and we lost confidence in our product’s ability to handle customer needs.” When mobile apps came along, complexity increased, and it was even more difficult to keep up.

 

Decision

The Journyx team eventually decided on outsourced testing, but they struggled with how to do it. Initially they hired contractors in India, but that failed. “We tried a couple of different firms,” said Zachritz. “It wasn’t apparent that they had QA expertise. If they did, the language barriers and time zone limitations were too difficult to overcome, and we couldn’t make it work. Our QA didn’t improve, and they didn’t understand what our goals were. They had no certifications or formal expertise, and no one was managing the entire project.”

Journyx ended up with nothing to show for their efforts – no test scripts, documentation or processes they could hand over to their internal development team. “We got what we paid for,” said Zachritz.

After that fiasco, Journyx hired a dedicated employee to be QA manager. They built up a set of test scripts – nothing automated – and some manual testing methods. “We had to train her,” said Zachritz. “She was only one person. When she was out, she wasn’t doing QA. And when she found a more attractive offer, she left. When you have someone in house, those are always issues.” That employee didn’t offer up any strategic guidance or best practice recommendations either.

Local, Accountable and Low-Cost Solution Helps Drive Revenue

Journyx eventually found TESTCo and solved everything in one fell swoop. They found a local company with the expertise to manage complex software testing and low-cost offshore testing labor. “What I like about TESTCo is that they’re an intermediary to different cultures,” said Finch. “At one point they switched testers from Romania to Ukraine, and we didn’t notice the change.”

“They’re here in Austin, and I can take them to lunch and hold them accountable or beg for forgiveness if we’ve messed something up on our end,” he continued. “We trust them, and the costs are very reasonable for what we get.”

Finch categorized the value of what TESTCo brings in terms of revenue, cost and risk. “TESTCo helps us understand exactly what we’re shipping,” said Finch. “We know customers will be happy with it right away, and our sales people have confidence in the software. That translates to increased sales.”

“The sales team is no longer afraid to demo stuff in presentations,” added Zachritz.

“Our costs are reduced because the testing talent is in another country where it’s less expensive to employ them,” continued Finch. “If I were to replace TESTCo with people here in the U.S., I’d have to spend about $5,000 to $10,000 more per month.”

As Journyx rolls out new product features and new software, they reduce risk by leveraging TESTCo resources. “For one thing, I have reliable, detailed insight into the status of everything,” said Finch. “With TESTCo we’re able to have a known level of quality in a consistent, predictable way.”

Journyx can also examine potential costs and complexities when considering the addition of new software features. “We can ask TESTCo how much it’s going to cost to add something to the testing,” said Finch. “That’s a double-check on the complexity question. It’s like a reverse estimation tool.”

Virtual In-House Team

Zachritz meets with TESTCo for bi-weekly progress calls and has daily email status updates from the TESTCo team. “We coordinate as though TESTCo is an in-house team,” she said. “The TESTCo QA process is run for me. I don’t have to do anything but review status and answer questions. I contact them with adjustments. They come to me with best practices and next steps guidance. All of that is very powerful for me.”

She now spends about 5% of her time on testing chores (as opposed to the 50% she mentioned earlier). “Now I can spend my time on planning and execution, and avoid all that fire fighting,” said Zachritz.

With TESTCo, Journyx can also scale up and scale back resources depending on their release cycles. “We can really manage it closely in terms of what we need at a given time,” said Zachritz. “And it doesn’t hurt us when someone takes a two-week vacation during testing. The TESTCo replacements are seamless.”

Software Test Automation Moving Forward

The TESTCo solution allows Journyx to automate software testing processes, as well. The goal is to reduce regression testing cycle times and get new releases out in a shorter amount of time.

Initially, Journyx didn’t tackle software test automation when starting out with TESTCo, but they eventually decided to move ahead with it in order to further enhance productivity and free up resources. “We tried to implement an automation suite earlier,” said Zachritz, “but coverage was bad, the platform was difficult to maintain, it was open source, and it wasn’t possible to upgrade it.”

TESTCo recommended changing out the platform. The two companies went through a new platform evaluation process, and found a new system that fit Journyx’s budget.

“We ended up automating the most time consuming manual tests and regression test cycles,” said Zachritz. “That speeds up our release cycle and in effect drives sales.”

 The process helps them improve code quality, close the gaps between fixes and generally move faster as an organization. “Our support teams can now work on bug reports and patching custom solutions for customers,” she continued. “They can also work on the videos they create to help people configure their solutions. Software test automation allows us to work on more strategic projects because of the quality of releases.”

“All of it has transformed our business,” said Zachritz. “It’s really incredible how it works.”

Read more about TESTCo’s software test automation services.
Share This:
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.”

Share This:

Offshore Software Testing Company Helps BetweenMarkets Deliver On Time

Why would a company with good internal software testing capabilities decide to hire an offshore software testing company?

BetweenMarkets, an enterprise software company specializing in distributed order fulfillment, was recognized as one of the premier development organizations in Austin, Texas. Although BetweenMarkets had released their first product with zero customer reported defects, they quickly realized that their software testing process – which consisted of a combination of in-house testing and expensive consultants – would not scale as they began the build out of their second release.

Problem

BetweenMarkets was preparing to release a new product version to market. Although the product had been successful in production environments, the management team was worried about the changing dynamics of their quality processes. As implementation of their second product release began, it became obvious that their existing software testing processes would not be effective going forward. “We had tremendous success in the quality of our first release. However, as the size and complexity of our application grew, there was just too much ground to cover,” said Erik Huddleston, CTO at BetweenMarkets. “There was no way we could cost effectively staff and train the people we needed to maintain our rigorous quality standards. Not only was there a tremendous amount of code to test, but there was also a wide variety of skills needed to effectively analyze the quality of our application and diagnose problems.”

Decision to Use An Offshore Software Testing Company

BetweenMarkets decided to turn to an  offshore software testing company in order to achieve the scalability, flexibility, and diversity of skills that were required. After interviewing and accepting bids from over a dozen offshore software testing firms, BetweenMarkets selected TESTCo. “TESTCo’s Engineered Assurance technology made it the clear choice,” Huddleston said. “Engineered Assurance, coupled with some great overseas relationships, gave us the real-time visibility and predictability that no other firm could deliver.”

Solution

At the end of each workday, a build is produced with a list of new features implemented and defects resolved. A TESTCo project manager, aided by Engineered Assurance technology, then analyzes the work and formulates a test strategy covering the next 12 hours. A team of specialists is assembled whose skills exactly match the night’s challenges. By morning, when BetweenMarkets’ development team returns to work, their issue-tracking system is fully populated with the results of the preceding day’s code analysis. BetweenMarkets immediately knows of any problems that were introduced into the product within a day of their creation. At the same time, BetweenMarkets’ management team has a full online report of the preceding day’s activities as well as analysis and recommendations going forward, all because of offshore software testing through TESTCo.

Benefits of Offshore Software Testing

In addition to enabling a new, more powerful development process, TESTCo offshore software testing provided BetweenMarkets with a number of tangible benefits. By offering a flexible usage model for testing services and a reduced per-head cost, BetweenMarkets was able to reduce its software QA testing related expenses by 50%. “The types of outsourced / offshore software testing skills you need vary over the course of a release as does the number of resources required. TESTCo was able to flexibly allocate the right people at the right time to keep the quality of our product high, and the cost of the effort low,” said Huddleston. Since BetweenMarkets is able to weave software testing into the daily development process, they are able to dramatically reduce the length of their release cycle. “TESTCo has helped enable a real-time, iterative development process that has had a dramatic impact on our time-to-market,” Huddleston said. “The introduction of real-time software testing decreased release cycle times by 20% and increased the defect discovery rate by 400%. TESTCo used their Engineered Assurance technology to provide us with accurate defect discovery within a single build, so that by the next build, the defect could be repaired. It’s hard to quantify the value of fixing bugs that are fresh on the developer’s mind instead of months later before a release, but it is significant,” said Huddleston. “It has had a tremendous impact on the quality of the code we produce.”

Share This: