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.