offshore software testing

Offshore Software Testing: What, How and Why

Offshore software testing is on the verge of being “commoditized”. If you subscribe to this notion and are not a software QA expert, you may be making a costly mistake.

The Maturity of Offshore Software Testing

Offshore software testing – where software testing services (and many others from manufacturing to IT support to legal work) are delivered from another country and possibly another timezone – is at least 30 years old. There is very little that is “new” in the pursuit of better labor and lower costs.  In fact, some aspects of offshore services have seen a “recall” to the home shores in the recent years as cultural challenges reduce labor quality and prices increase in other countries as the standard of living rises. Almost everyone has a personal horror story about an aspect of offshoring. The relentless pursuit of lower costs has now met and must confront the quality and value of the services received.  In most, cases, the value received no longer justifies the cost paid. But, there are still nuggets of gold to be found – if you know how to find them!

What is Offshore Software Testing?

The “What” of offshore software testing – writing, running and reporting software tests – is a simple one. The desired outcome from software testing is a positive or negative indication on a test case. Almost anyone can be trained to do all or some portion of this work. In most cases, the goal of the work is some volume of activity and outcomes – test case and test run coverage are commonly used metrics for this activity.

“No Defects Found” Does not Mean that Your Software is Good Enough for Your Customers

The problem with using “What” as your primary criteria for offshore software testing is that it relies on a false assumption that some “number of defects found” based on “test cases run” results in high quality software. This is not always the case and the fundamental difference between software testing and software quality! It is almost impossible to write and run test cases for every possible combination of features within your software application. Just because no defects were found does not mean that your software is good enough for your customers!

How is Offshore Software Testing Done?

The “How” of software testing covers methods, standards, tools and procedures used to perform the writing, running and reporting of software tests (the “What”). When software testing work is performed, how it is performed, who will perform the testing and where it is performed – all influence the value of the outcomes. There is a big difference between a newbie running a set of tests someone else created during a normal workday and an experienced Test Engineer building and executing a manual functional test plan over the weekend.

Both produce standard software testing outcomes (the “What”). One is more valuable if you are in a situation where money is more important than time. The other is more valuable if time is more important than money. Clearly understanding this is critical to making a wise choice for an offshore software testing partner.

Sure, methods, standard, tools and procedures are useful – we use them frequently at TESTCo. But, using methods or procedures as a primary selection criteria has a big potential flaw – not all methods or procedures are implemented the same and your definition of “Agile” may not be the same as someone else’s. Putting an offshore software testing partner’s Agile Software Testing method into your Agile Software Development Team’s process may or may not work!

Why Use Offshore Software Testing

There are two good reasons to considering using offshore software testing.

One reason is to pay as little as possible for a commodity service that you need. We don’t subscribe to this notion for several reasons.

  • The lowest cost seldom equates to best value – this results in an expense rather than an investment.
  • The talent required to deliver lowest cost service is typically not experienced and trained in software testing – you can do better.
  • Low cost talent delivering commoditized services does not allow us to deliver the Real Value Every Day that we are committed to.

We optimize for talent first and cost second so that we can offer very talented software test engineers coupled with QA managers at a reasonable price.

The second reason is to honor your promise to deliver software that your customers love and depend on.

We believe that all software has an inherent promise to the customer of distinct value – increased revenue, cost savings or enjoyment in exchange for some amount of money.  Bold promises are needed to attract and retain customers in today’s crowded marketplace.  Bold promises require investment and talent.  Weak promises don’t require much and seldom survive very long.  Building great software requires unique talent – analysts, developers and quality assurance.  Scrimp on any of those three aspects and your delivery on your promise will suffer.

The TESTCo Difference

At TESTCo, we believe talented software test engineers trump software testers at least 2 to 1, if not more. We only test software and we only hire experienced software test engineers.  If you are struggling to release quality software that your customers appreciate and depend on, we have the people that can help you honor your promise to your customers.

If you think you need help with offshore software testing, we’d enjoy the opportunity to learn more about your needs and explain how TESTCo can help you honor your promises to your customers. A quick 30 minute phone call is usually more than enough to learn about your situation and answer all of your questions about how TESTCo can be your offshore software testing partner.

offshore software testing

Is Offshore Software Testing Such A Good Idea

Software still needs to be tested, even if you haven’t hired an offshore software testing service. So, what can be done? Learn what NOT To do when it comes to testing internally

  • Have the engineers test their own work. This is expensive (software developers are usually paid more than testers), and only marginally effective because developers tend to make a LOT of assumptions about what needs to be tested in the code they’ve written. Lastly, they are much better at building something than breaking something – which is where great Software Test Engineers excel.
  • Assign “other” people to test it. The “other” people are usually people within the company in customer service or marketing. This is less expensive (though we certainly work hard to ensure that offshore software testing isn’t cost-prohibitive), but it’s the least effective method because they aren’t trained testers who understand how/what to test and what to do when they find a defect.
  • Have the end users test it. This approach appears to be the least expensive but is actually the most expensive. End users that will eventually use the software to accomplish their work often experience frustration and loss of confidence in the application when they are put in this position. In addition, productivity and other opportunities are lost when they are pulled away from their regular work to test software.
  • Do nothing and hope for the best. You wouldn’t be reading this if you really thought this was an option – after all, that’s why you’re even considering offshore software testing.
  • Automate it! This is the holy grail of software testing. It involves writing a program to test a program – a very complex process that requires up-front investment and is really only valuable when you have a LOT of tests to run, very frequently, and in a very short period of time. See how On Demand (versus strictly Offshore Software Testing) can help with software automation projects.  Learn if your Agile development is wasting money on automation by checking out our reports.  Testing in Agile can make life a lot easier.

But if none of these are options are ideal, especially if you find yourself reading this AFTER you’ve started a software project, you may think it’s too late to consider offshore software testing services.  But it’s not.  TESTCo can help get your software projects back on track faster than you thought possible!

Offshore Testing

A Unique Offshore Testing Company

At some point, almost every company finds themselves faced with this problem:

  1. You need to test, fix and launch your new software version, website or mobile application to grow your business and achieve your goals.
  2. You don’t have enough time or talent to get it all tested with your internal team – or maybe you don’t have an internal team and the developers don’t really like to test.
  3. You decide to seek help from an offshore testing company.
  4. You Google “Offshore Testing” and start sending contact forms.
  5. You get to participate in lots of “yeah, we do that too” conversations while talking with companies that actually do much more software development than testing. ( Sure, they have some testers and will sell you as many as you need).
  6. You’re left feeling misunderstood and “sold” without a real solution to your problem.

That’s probably not what you want and it definitely won’t solve the problem you have right now.

What You Probably Want from Offshore Testing

We’ve been providing offshore testing since 2002 and have helped hundreds of software projects, just like yours. This is what we’ve learned that you want:

  1. You want us to clearly understand your team and your project:
    • The technical work you want done so we assign the right experts,
    • Your software development process and cycle so we don’t interrupt and add noise,
    • And your business/project goals so we optimize our work to deliver the most value towards your goal.
  2. You want us to dig deep and advise you:
    • You want more than “run some tests,”
    • You want a Test Engineer who will think hard and dig deeply to find the bugs that hurt your customers,
    • You want recommendations on how we can help you avoid them in the future.
  3. You want us to communicate clearly and effectively:
    • Like Goldilocks – just enough – so that we provide you all the real-time info you need to make smart decisions about our project,
    • But without adding noise and unnecessary meetings to your already over-booked schedule.
  4. You want us to deliver on our promises and give you Real Value:
    • You want to count on us to hit our deliverables on time and,
    • Do what we say without having to check up on us or answer questions you’ve already answered.
  5. You want us to honor our pricing and proposals:
    • Nobody wants a budget surprise near the end of a project because of a bad estimate or forgotten specification – so we promise we won’t leave you hanging with a surprise.
    • If we miss an estimate, we’ll make up the difference and honor our original proposal. (More on this point at the end of this post).

All this requires a talented team of Test Engineers and QA Managers.

Cheap offshore testing won’t and can’t deliver what you want.

The Problem with Testers for Offshore Testing

The problem, as we see it, with that type of approach you typically end up with the “second string” testers. You know, the people who weren’t really good enough for the A-List software development team but who make reasonably good software testers. This problem gets compounded when testers are not managed effectively – and “testers” require a lot of your management time. Cheap testers can and will do what they are told, but they typically fail to deliver real and immediate value when given a broad set of directives instead of a clear and finite list of testing tasks. Testers will also need additional training time in order to be effective with a new software application.

Testers can run tests for you and then wait for you to tell them what to do next. Test Engineers understand software quality and can build and execute a software testing strategy and plan to achieve your goal – without you telling them what to do every day.

On the other hand, insisting on Test Engineers for your offshore testing needs almost always succeeds – even under the most difficult and challenging situations. Add a QA Manager to help the Test Engineers build effective strategies and plans and you have a powerful software offshore testing team to achieve your goals and launch your software on time.

Missing QA Managers = Missing Value

Most offshore testing companies don’t have the ability to add a QA Manager to your project because their rates are too low or they lack the talent because they just sell testers.

A QA Manager on your offshore testing project can mean the difference between “getting some testing” and “achieving your goals”. TESTCo provides a QA Manager on EVERY project because we’re committed to achieving your goals.

Here’s where a QA Manager on your project makes a difference.

  1. QA Managers ensure that the business and technical value you’re seeking are delivered.
  2. QA Managers evaluate QA Strategies and help build QA and Test Plans for Test Engineers to execute.
  3. QA Managers work with you to customize our offshore testing work and outcomes to your unique project and development methodology.
  4. QA Managers ensure that you are completely informed about our progress on a twice-daily basis so that we’re always focused on your most immediate needs.

Add a QA Manager to help the Test Engineers build effective QA strategies and test plans and you have a powerful offshore testing team to achieve your goals and launch your software on time.

TESTCo is a different kind of offshore software testing company. Since we ONLY provide software testing, we ONLY hire and train Software Testing Engineers. We think this makes a huge difference and our clients agree.

Call me, if you want to talk about your next testing project.  888.254.9709  Or, ask to schedule a time to talk with me by clicking the green and blue button at the top right of the page.

A Final Word About Honoring Our Promises

You want your software project tested to find the bugs and defects. Behind that, though, you want to remove risk from your plan to achieve your goals – and your software project is a critical part of achieving your business goals.

The last thing you need during your software project’s offshore testing phase is more risk. Quite often, an offshore testing company will give you a project proposal that is too small to achieve your goals but that catches your attention because it is the cheapest. The problem with this approach is that it will probably catch you by surprise when you least expect it – near the end of your testing project. The testing won’t be enough and you’ll be surprised and disappointed.

At TESTCo, we honor our promises and our proposals. When we prepare a proposal/estimate, we consider your goals and constraints and then evaluate at least three different software testing strategies. We include our strategy analysis in our proposal so you can see exactly how we propose to successfully complete your project.

But, sometimes people make mistakes and we overlook a critical item and our proposal/estimate will be too small to successfully complete your project within your budget. It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen. If and when this does happen, we’ll honor our original proposal. Our job is to remove risk, not add more risk. We do this by honoring our promises and proposals to you.

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.


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.”


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.”