QA Service

Make Engineering Fun Again. Improve The Human Stack With The Right QA Service.

In This Post

I’ve worked with software engineers, usually the head of engineering, my entire career. First, as a product manager, and since 2002, as Founder/CEO of a QA service outsourcing company. In that time I’ve gained deep respect for the people who carry the burden of bringing a vision to life in a manner that makes money for their organization. I know what thrills engineers. I know what aggravates the heck out of them.

Engineering Managers are architects and builders. They pull together the people, processes and technology required to build the machine that makes the software that powers the business. It’s a very big job. And it’s a whole lotta fun when the right Technical Stack and Human Stack are in place.

It’s a genuine joy when the process is flowing from specs and stories through code and integration into and out of testing.

It’s not any fun when the right tools or people are missing. That’s when the wheels of the Dev machine get wobbly. That’s when release dates are missed. That’s when irate customers complain about buggy software, apps or websites.

There’s a constant pressure to release robust products faster, and to turn out upgrades more frequently. This pressure eventually stresses the machine and it cracks at the weakest point. Where’s that?

Nine out of ten times the weakness is in the QA team. That’s where the bottlenecks and miscues tend to occur. This is when my phone rings and when I have another conversation with a stressed out engineering manager.

Let me get one thing straight here. I’m not talking about just providing your company with more testers. While having more QA bandwidth may solve some of the issues, I know from experience that the core problem in QA isn’t numbers. It’s intelligence and drive.

You see, most testers are just looking for gigs until something better comes along. They might even be developers who can’t cut it in the big leagues. At TESTCo, I hire only software test engineers. These are people who live to develop and execute strategically-sound test plans.  They not only find bugs efficiently they know how to offer feedback that actually improves the entire Dev process.

What if your software engineers had perfect stories with validation test cases as inputs to work from and then had immediate validation as soon as they finished?

What would your software process, throughput and quality look like if your Test Engineers were on the same “wavelength” as your Engineers. Powerful potential, right?

Rounding Out the QA Service Team with Extraordinary QA Managers

At TESTCo we provide a QA Manager for every project at no additional charge. What this does for you, the engineering manager, is two things.

First, our QA Managers are simply the best at identifying the right goals and priorities to pursue considering the constraints of the situation. Even if you have a terrific QA Manager already, our team adds serious brain power and objectivity. The test plans we create are designed to deliver real business value every day. Can you say that about your current test plans?

Second,  you’ll never have to ask, “Where are we with the test plan?” This is because our QA Managers provide crystal-clear reports twice every day. You’re never waiting on QA for feedback. Equally important, you don’t have to be awake in the middle of the night to communicate with a TESTCo QA Manager. They’re located in the Central time zone and speak fluent English. You’ll understand each other perfectly.

Experience the Difference at 30% – 50% Less

I describe TESTCo as a boutique software QA service company. We’re not a big test factory. We’re certainly not a bunch of strangers messing with your code. We are big enough, nimble enough, and smart enough to meet whatever testing demands a small or mid-sized company can throw at us.

This includes being able to jump on a single project within a day, or handle all of your QA through many release cycles. (We are the exclusive QA service resource for many of our clients).

Below are reviews of our services written by Engineering Managers like you who trust us and benefit from delivered promises at 30% – 50% less than the cost of internal QA resources.



Strengthen the Development Machine With A Single Call

After a few minutes on the phone with me and one of my QA Managers you’ll notice the TESTCo difference. I bet you'll see that plugging TESTCo's QA service into your team will result in faster cycle times and more thrilled customers.

Oh, and you’ll see there’s a very good possibility that your job will start being fun again.

Click the green button on the page to schedule a conversation with me. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.

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QA Services

QA Services for the A-Team. A Founder’s Dream Comes True.

 

In This Post

As a founder myself I know first-hand how agonizingly difficult it is to build and retain an A-team of talent to run and grow my business – to make my dream a reality. If you’ve started a company that develops mobile apps, software, or websites you’re feeling the same pain every day. The pain is especially acute in the area of QA services for small companies.

It’s not just the shortage of talent that’s the problem. It’s the shortage of smart talent. You know, the proactive problem solvers and opportunity achievers. The type of people that bring a lot to the table. In short, the A-team.

Putting All-Stars At Every Position

In 80% of the conversations I have with founders and CEOs they point with pride at the skills and innovativeness of their engineers. But when the conversation turns to their QA services team, whether internal or outsourced, the mood changes. By and large most founders believe they have competent people in the QA slots, but they don’t have enough A-players in those roles to take the QA function to the next level.

The really savvy founders I know understand that the dev cycle is streamlined in direct relation to just how sharp their QA team is and how well they work with Engineering. Those same founders know that the quality of their product becomes their brand and defines their dream. On the other hand,  bad reviews, poor customer loyalty, extensive support costs threaten to destroy their dream. No wonder a lack of QA talent causes more than a little anxiety for these folks.

Your Dream is My Dream

The dream I’ve built–my company–actually helps founders build and maintain their dreams by providing the smartest, most goal-driven QA service teams on the planet. Give me a shot at a project and if we don’t perform according to plan, you pay nothing. You understand correctly. That’s an old-fashioned money-back guarantee.

I’m not desperate for your business. I’m confident. Confident in the ability of my teams to delight.

You don’t hear the word “delight” associated with software QA much, do you? Well, that word and many like it surface in our customer reviews. Here are a few reviews from founders of small companies like you.



Attitude, Consistency, Intelligence - The TESTCo Difference

What makes TESTCo different? After all, the world is filled with software testers and outsourced QA services companies. Some of which even proclaim to serve small companies.

First, I like to describe us as a boutique software QA company. We’re not a QA factory. I have no interest in running that kind of business. We provide highly personalized services, crystal-clear communication, and top-drawer project leadership. (At affordable rates I should add). TESTCo's nimbleness and size dovetail well with small and mid-sized companies.

Second, I employ only A-team caliber people. My QA Managers (provided with every project at no additional cost) are brilliant at setting the right testing strategies to deliver value to you every day. They are true leaders.  Our Test Engineers are bonafide engineers who love to test. They don’t sit back and wait to be told what to do. No way. They work closely with the QA Manager to develop and implement the perfect test plan to achieve the project goal.

Third, we are awesome communicators. You receive status reports twice a day. My QA Managers participate in (and often lead) project postmortems. The feedback they provide to Engineering actually helps shorten the Dev cycle. The QA Managers are fluent in English. Plus we’re available to chat, email or talk when you are. TESTCo QA Managers are located in the Central time zone.

Fourth, we deliver expected results because the results are expected. That’s a clever way of saying we really excel at understanding the business goals (not just the testing goals) and creating test plans that support the business goals within the known restraints. Your team knows what to expect by when. And we deliver.

When was the last time you talked to a software tester who wanted to know about the business goals associated with the project? Never, right?

On-Demand, or On-Going QA Services for Small Companies on a Budget

Here's the other good thing about TESTCo QA services. On very little notice (often as little as one day's notice), we can parachute in to rescue a project. Even for small projects. The other way we provide value is to be an on-going extension of the QA team, or be the QA team for your organization. I have many clients who have relied on TESTCo for all of their testing requirements for years. They receive value, reliability, and intelligence all for 30% - 50% less than an internal team.

A-Players for QA. No Risk. Make the Call.

And that’s the primary difference between B- and C-level QA people and the A-team at TESTCo. We care a lot about your dream.

Earlier in the post I made an offer. I’ll make it again. Try us for a project. If we fail to perform according to the goals of the project, the work is free.

Go ahead, schedule a call with me to see if I stand behind my promises. I look forward to speaking with you – founder to founder. Just click the green button on this page to schedule a conversation. Talk to you soon.

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Outsource Quality Assurance

Outsource Quality Assurance? When is the Right Time?

There will be a time when you wonder, “When should I outsource quality assurance for my software, websites, or mobile aps?” It’s a great question as there are times when outsourcing QA makes good sense and there are times when it doesn’t. Let’s look at a couple problems where outsourced quality assurance may or may not help you.

Running Late. Is Now the Time for Outsource Quality Assurance?

You’re running late on delivering your project and testing is always the last gate to clear.

You’re responsible for the quality of your software. When there are problems, it’s *your* phone that rings. You have a bunch of new features and several bug fixes that are almost ready for release. You just need to get the new features tested (again) and a full regression test suite run to make sure those old bugs got fixed and that there aren’t any new ones. It’s just you and one tester and the pressure is mounting to get the new software released to your customers.

Do you …

A – do the best you can with what you have?

B – ask for help from your peers?

C – seek help from quality assurance outsourcing?

If you do the best you can with what you have – you and your tester – you’ll make progress but probably can’t make any promises about the actual quality of the release. Everyone will just have to hope for the best and take what they get. Yeah, your phone is probably going to ring …

If you ask for help from your peers – the programmers and folks in marketing – you’ll probably get help. But, will that *help* really help? Yeah, you’ll get some tests run, but it probably won’t be a coordinated and planned strategy for software quality. It will be a bunch of testing and while it’s better than just doing the best you can, you’ll still be left with hope and getting whatever you get. And yeah, your phone’s probably going to ring if you use this approach, too.

Reaching Out

If you seek help from TESTCo, a long-standing quality assurance outsourcing company, you’ll get a thorough strategy, proposal and plan within a day and we can start working for you in as little as a single day. We’ll run your test strategy and plan and report twice daily so you’ll always know where things stand and exactly how good your software is. Call me anytime to talk about how we can help you! 888-254-9709

More to Come

Over the course of the next month or so I’ll append this post with descriptions of more problems and opportunities to effectively use outsourced quality assurance.

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QA Software Testing Company

Does Your QA Software Testing Company Do Both?

That’s not a typo in the headline. I’ll repeat. Does your QA software testing company do both?

Both? Both what?

Why, both QA (Quality Assurance) and Software Testing, of course.

QA, Quality Assurance, is a goal and process.

Software Testing is an activity, usually inside the QA process.

Is This Difference Between QA And Software Testing Important?

It depends on what you have and what is important to you, of course.

If you already have a rock-solid QA process for your software quality, then software testing help may be all you need.

After all, your rock-solid QA process should inform you exactly when (and how much) you need software testing versus when you need test strategy and planning.

Your rock-solid QA process already has a SMART Goal that drives your software QA and testing team to the right activities at the right time with the right effort to achieve your goal, right?

But, if you don’t already have a rock-solid QA process, then you may need a little bit more than just software testing. A qualified QA software testing company, LIKE TESTCo, can (and should) help you with this as a natural part of their work with you.

Why Would You Even Need a QA Process?

There are three important reasons to consider building a QA process, even a small one, before you start software testing.

  1. You can’t test everything
  2. Testing can be expensive
  3. You can’t “undo” disappointed customers

As you can see, you can’t win in this situation unless you have unlimited time, money and fresh customers.

How can you win against these three big constraints?

Build a simple QA Process with a SMART Goal, clear strategy, and simple plan to achieve your goal.

Unless you already have a QA Process, goals, strategy and plan, you should seek a QA software testing company that does BOTH – QA and Testing.

Note: a QA software testing company CAN’T help you with this unless they assign a QA Manager to your project and they collect the information needed to build a SMART QA Goal. Testers, no matter how experienced, just don’t have the skills and training to build effective QA Goals or QA Processes.  TESTCo provides a QA Manager, at no additional charge, on every software testing project.

How Much QA Process Do You Need?

We think you should have the “Goldilocks” QA Process – not too much, not too little, just enough to achieve your business and quality goals with minimal risk.

Too much QA process will slow down your software development and release process and you’ll struggle to hit your release date targets.

Too little QA process and your customer service phone lines will light up like a Christmas tree.

A “just right” QA process should produce software that meets your business and quality goals and makes your team feel proud of their accomplishments.

Knowing Your Goal

How much is “just right”? That depends on your goals and constraints. If your goal is for ZERO defects, you should know that your budget is going to need to be *very* large. This type of quality is usually reserved for nuclear power plants and military software.

If you don’t have a quality goal and just need to get it “tested” then you won’t need much budget or time. But, your customers will probably experience significant bugs and delete your mobile application based on their poor experience. This type of quality is typically used by businesses testing a market or idea rather than penetrating and competing in that market. New customers are expensive to acquire and bad mobile applications or buggy web apps are one of the easiest ways to drive them away.

If you *do* have a quality goal, then the right amount of QA process is exactly the minimum needed to achieve your goal. This usually means investing in building test cases during your specification phase, designing and building test frameworks during your build phase, quickly executing test cases and reporting defects as soon as possible after it is built (real-time functional testing), and then a brief functional and cross-device regression testing after all the fixes are completed and prior to roll out.

Reaching For The Right Assistance

Helping you design, experiment and build your QA process is something that an experienced QA Software Testing Company can help you with. A mobile software development company can help you build your development process, but they seldom do well helping you design and build a software QA process.

Why? Software developers CREATE and BUILD software to add FEATURES. Test Engineers TEST and attempt to DESTROY software to find DEFECTS in the FEATURES. Test Engineers typically have the same university-level education and training as software developers, but have chosen a different path for their career. Additionally, QA Managers have a library of QA processes and strategies so an effective strategy and process that meets your specific needs is quick and easy to find, evaluate, and implement.

How Can You Know Which Vendor Has Which Capabilities?

That’s easy – here are three questions you can ask that will quickly and easily let you find out if the QA software testing company you’re talking to has both Quality Assurance and Software Testing experience you need.

  1. How do you establish and achieve quality goals for your clients? What is a recent example? QA Goals should be SMART Goals and have a clear plan for achievement. QA Goals should also have clear constraints – especially in Budget and Time – no project runs forever for free! Lastly, QA Goals should have clear Business Value – they achieve something useful that moves the entire business forward in achieving its’ goals.
  2. What variety and type of QA strategies do you consider when evaluating a client’s needs? What is your “go-to” strategy? There is always more than one way to achieve a goal – these are strategies and help you quickly determine if your plans can work to achieve the goal within the constraints. Sadly, one of the most popular QA Strategies is “test everything” and that seldom works. It feels good because you can see and measure a lot of activity but it almost never provides the detail and coverage most modern technology applications need. In some cases, it can actually be counter productive and delay a release! A smart QA Strategy should be proven effective and simple enough for stakeholders to understand and support.
  3. How do you document, update and communicate your test plans and percentage of goal completion? What is your goal completion percentage for your clients? Documentation of technology projects can be cumbersome but accurate documentation, reporting and measurement of QA and Testing is critically important. Poorly documented defects are literally worthless if they require developer time to diagnose and recreate the defect. Test plans are mathematical equations for demonstrating test coverage and completion across a technology project. They must be updated real-time to provide the real value a testing team needs to achieve their goal and the quality goal of the technology project. Goal completion is a critical value measure for outsourced software testing providers. Without measuring Goal Completion, your outsourced software testing partner is doing the work but failing to deliver the true business value.

Asking these questions can help you avoid the painful lessons of working with an outsourced software testing provider.

Can Location Choices For A QA Software Testing Company Be Helpful Or Harmful?

Having a QA Software Testing company near you can be helpful – especially of you have hardware closely connected to your project. Technology projects are rapidly evolving to include the Internet of Things.

QA Software Testing companies span the world and you have many choices about where you want your software testing & QA services located. There are two primary considerations when considering where to locate your QA software testing services.

Timezone Considerations

If your project is rapidly evolving and the stories/requirements very fluid, then selecting a QA Software Testing Company in the same or very similar Timezone will probably work in your favor. This will help you avoid some of the communications challenges that occur when a team is working at the opposite end of your clock. If your project is relatively stable, then selecting a QA Software Testing Company in an opposite Timezone will work in your favor. This will allow your QA and Testing team the opportunity to complete their work prior to your local team arriving at work. Fresh code at night and fresh bugs in the morning!

Intellectual Property Considerations

If your company or project has new and highly valuable intellectual property in your software project, then it makes a lot of sense to avoid locating you QA Software Testing Company in a country that does not have reliable and effective IP protection laws. If you’re building a cutting edge artificial intelligence system then locating your QA Software Testing Company in another country with strong IP protection is almost a basic requirement. If you’re building a marketing mobile app, then you probably don’t have much IP to protect (in your app) and the risk of IP theft is very low and the country where you locate your QA Software Testing Company is not nearly as important.

The Nexus Of QA Software Testing

TESTCo is ideally located in Austin, TX, with offices in Mexico and Ukraine. This allows us to work in almost any time zone you prefer. Our offices in Mexico and Ukraine allow TESTCo to work on your project without any state-sanctioned IP risk.

A QA Software Testing Company Should Give You a “Certainty of Success”

This is both a set of facts and feelings that your outsourced software testing company can deliver the value and services you need to achieve your business and software quality goals.

At TESTCo, every team consists of a Test Engineer and QA Manager to make sure you get the Quality Assurance you want and the software testing you need. It makes a difference. Just see what our clients have to say.

Give us a call at 888-254-9709, or request a call back with the form on this page if you want to explore this further with me.

 

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QA Testing Company

Does Your QA Testing Company Know Your Goals and Constraints? 

Why does it matter if a QA testing company, hired for a quick project, knows your goals and constraints for the project?

You know it needs to be tested, you’re already behind your plan and waiting for testing to be completed seems like a waste of time. You just need it done.

We’re frequently asked to “just get this tested out by tomorrow”. We can do that and we’re happy to do so. You’re in a rush, we know it and we want to be helpful to you.

But taking a few minutes up front can have a huge return.

Pause, Take a Deep Breath, Write Down Your Goals and Constraints

Just do a little bit of thinking about Goals and Constraints (or spend just a few minutes talking with us). You’ll dramatically increase your Certainty of Success. It works every time.

You’ll also get about 10X in increased value from the work of your QA testing company if you can explain your goal and/or constraint in a way they can understand and achieve.

All this can be a little tricky because software quality can be a goal or constraint – or both.

If you are clear about which one, you have an opportunity to either reduce your expenses or increase the return on your investment.

If you aren’t clear about which one, you’ll probably be disappointed with either the cost or the outcomes.

Here’s why:

Software Quality as a Goal

If software quality is a goal, is it specific and how much are you prepared to invest to achieve your goal?

What return do you expect for your investment after the QA testing company finishes the project?

For example, “No critical defects” is a software quality goal. “No customer-found defects” is another, but different, software quality goal.

One of these goals focuses on the types of defects and the other focuses on the availability and likelihood of defects. They appear similar but require different software testing approaches. Not all QA testing companies can recognize or build a strategy and plan to achieve these goals.

If your selected QA testing company isn’t clear on this type of goal, you’ll get as much testing as you can afford but you might not achieve your goal.

Software Quality as a Constraint

If software quality is a constraint, what is the most you’ll spend and the minimum you’d accept?

Will meeting the constraints be sufficient to achieve your business goals? You don’t want to come up short.

For example, “No previous features broken” is a type of goal and constraint. “Must fail gracefully without data loss” is another type of constraint.

Your unique constraints have an impact on the type of software testing strategy that your QA testing company chooses. Some constraints are very easy to accommodate and others can be a real challenge. Many QA testing companies skip this step and wind up disappointing their clients when they fail to achieve the goal AND the constraint.

When Software Quality is Both a Goal and a Constraint

When software quality is both a goal and a constraint, how will you measure the boundaries of expense versus investment?

If you limit your expense as a constraint, will the investment be sufficient to achieve your goal?

Yeah, those are some tough questions. It really helps to have a trusted testing partner to discuss the scenarios and risks.

What is Your Quality Goal or Constraint?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone – most of our clients don’t have a clear idea when they first come to us for help.

At TESTCo, we prefer the “SMART” goal format and can easily help you “sharpen” your quality goal.

When software quality is  viewed as a constraint, you should be able to clearly define the limits. We see this frequently with new clients, “We need this tested within X days and for $Y price, can you do that?” At TESTCo, we work with this situation frequently.

What is a SMART Goal?

Smart Goals are built on the S.M.A.R.T Criteria and stands for:

– Specific

– Measurable

– Achievable

– Results Focused (or Relevant)

– Time Bound

If you’ll use this short checklist when writing your goal, you will reduce the amount of time you need to build a good goal and your QA testing company will have an easier time understanding and achieving it for you.

Why Do I Need a SMART Goal?

You don’t need a SMART goal but if you can build one, you’ll get much more value and have better outcomes than if you don’t build a Smart Goal.

Many QA testing companies are happy to work for you without any goal at all. The problem that occurs without a goal is that all you can get is some testing activity and a list of defects.

While that sounds OK, you can and should expect more. Just testing and reporting defects can’t tell you much about the quality of your software or the team building your software. The most it can tell you is that you do have software defects.

If you do have a goal and you find one of the few QA testing companies that can help you achieve your goal, you’ll be rewarded with software testing, a list of defects and best of all, some real metrics, feedback and advice on specifically where you stand towards achieving your goal. Additionally, you’ll get expert consulting advice on how you can more easily achieve your goals in the future.

Otherwise, and without a goal, you’ll just get some testing and a list of defects.

Plans Vs Planning

Goals are used to create plans that are clear so that everyone on the team can help achieve the common goal. Plans are frequently seen as very important since they are typically used to measure the progress of a project – especially a QA testing project when everyone is waiting anxiously for the launch! At TESTCo, we’re experts at building plans and here’s why. QA testing projects very seldom run exactly according to plan. Why? Primarily because testing is done at or near the end of a project and there’s ALWAYS something else that someone wants included in the current release.

And, that’s fine. We’re bigger fans of Planning than Plans because we’ve learned that the critical thinking required to formulate and build a plan is the most valuable aspect of the plan. What? Yeah, it’s the thinking behind the plan rather than the plan itself that’s most important.

At some point, your QA testing plan is probably going to blow up when you least expect it. If your QA testing company doesn’t have planning experts or experience, how will you ever get your software project launched?

Why All These Hard Questions?

At TESTCo, we have a strong team of experienced and talented software test engineers. We can “point” those talented engineers at almost any goal and they will achieve it. They like this a lot! We can also ask them to “just test it”. They don’t like this as much but they’ll do it gladly.

If we understand your goal, we can help you achieve it.

If we understand your constraint, we can meet it.

If we know both, we can deliver the “Sweet Spot” – high quality that delights your customers and a cost that delights your CFO.

Curious about avoiding pitfalls of outsourced software testing? This article highlights some important lessons.

This QA Testing Company Will Get the Right Answers in 45 Minutes

Our Scoping Process, a 45-minute conversation with you about what is important to you and your project, is designed to clarify your goals and constraints so that we have a perfectly clear picture of exactly what you need and want.

If you’re talking with a QA company and they aren’t asking about your goals and constraints, please give me a call and I’ll help you figure them out – and then achieve them! Here’s my number, 888-254-9709

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Outsourcing Quality Assurance

Outsourcing Quality Assurance Helps In-House QA

There are three things you can get from outsourcing quality assurance, even if you already have an in-house QA function.

I know, the thought of outsourcing may not have crossed your mind lately if release cycles are running smoothly and customers are loving your software, apps, or website.

But, for how long? You know that with each release the testing gets a little more complex; a little more time-consuming.

The Impact of Regression Testing Debt

Every time new features are added, the quality assurance cycle get’s a little longer…and longer…and longer.

Why is that? It’s called regression testing debt and it occurs because the amount of things that need to be tested increases each time new features are added.

Yes, the new features need to be tested, but the old features need to be tested as well to make sure the new features didn’t bungle them up and break them.

Kicking the Can Down the Road

Of course you’re thinking there’s probably no real budget to add additional quality assurance staff – the internal team is just going to have to do the best they can.

This approach might work for a little while but it won’t be sustainable unless you find some *leverage* to make your quality assurance team more efficient.

Outsourcing quality assurance – even for a project or two – can bring your in-house QA team a ton of learning, new techniques and better strategies to overcome the increasing workload that comes with regression testing debt.

The leverage and ROI on this approach is very high – and not just in terms of dollars or time.

Three Benefits When Outsourcing Quality Assurance Resource for Your Internal QA Team

Here’s how your in-house QA team can benefit from working on a couple software testing projects with an outsourced quality assurance team.

  1. New software testing techniques – the art and science of software testing and quality assurance advances significantly every year. A well qualified outsourced quality assurance partner keeps their team well trained on new and effective testing techniques. They can easily teach your in-house QA team some of the best techniques for your unique situation.
  2. New software testing strategies – software, websites and applications are growing in size and volume every year. The old strategies for making sure your software has adequate quality assurance coverage may not work anymore and may even lead you in the wrong direction. New quality assurance strategies are being built, tested and used to great advantage – wouldn’t your in-house quality assurance team benefit from learning some new strategies?
  3. New quality assurance tools – last but not least, the tools!  All the tools! Almost too many to chose from – and how would you chose anyway? Choosing and implementing the most effective software testing tools can be daunting if you try to figure it out yourself. Adding to the confusion – those sales guys selling the tools! Give yourself (and your QA Team) a break and let the experts tell you (and even show you) which tools work best in which situation. This alone can save you weeks of time!

The Cost of QA Leverage

It should cost you less than $10K to engage with a well qualified and respected quality assurance partner for a project that runs a week or two.

In return, you should expect that your immediate testing needs are well covered and your in-house QA Team should get a range of the following benefits in addition to the software testing.

  • New software testing techniques with guide sheets and personal instruction on how best to use them.
  • New software testing strategies with coaching on the costs and benefits of the selected approach.
  • Introduction to software testing tools you haven’t used but might benefit from – along with demos and examples of how they can work for you and what the true costs of implementation are.

Where else are you going to get that kind of ROI and leverage? Keep your internal QA team sharp. Keep your customers (and your boss) happy. It’s all possible you choose an outsourcing quality assurance strategy for raising the level of performance in your internal QA team.

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Quality Assurance Outsourcing

Quality Assurance Outsourcing Options

What is the “best” quality assurance outsourcing option? There are certainly a wide variety of lists that you can choose from.

But, only you can determine the “best” based on what YOU need.

Unfortunately, you really won’t know that until AFTER you’ve experienced the results.

But, there are some things you can consider (and questions you can ask) that will stack the odds of success in your favor.

Great Questions to Ask About Quality Assurance Outsourcing

  1. Expertise – Have the test engineers that will be working on your project worked on similar projects recently? What did they learn on those projects that will help your project be a success?
  2. Availability – Are the engineers with that expertise available when YOU need them? If there is a delay starting, will they still be available? How would that work?
  3. Price/Cost – Calculate the cost rather than decide based on the price.  Huh?  Yeah, who cares what the hourly rate is when you don’t know how much time it will take. Get an estimate and then decide based on the hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours estimated. Here’s a hint – talented quality assurance outsourcing engineers can build and execute test plans almost twice as fast as general testers – and you’ll get better result in this project and your next one!  Do the math!
  4. References – Do they have references for previous customers who wanted similar quality assurance outsourcing?  If so, then ask to talk with one or two. This can make a HUGE difference – and here’s why. You really want to hear two things from a reference. How well did they do meeting the goals? What did that person (the reference) do to make the overall project easier and better with the vendor they selected?

How TESTCo Answers Those Questions

At TESTCo, we have all those bases covered.

quality assurance outsourcing questions to askExpertise – we only use experienced software test engineers – no testers! We’ve been delivering software testing and quality assurance outsourcing since 2002 and we only hire experienced test engineers – and they DO make a difference.

Availability – TESTCo is specifically designed to provide on-demand software testing precisely when you need it. Sure, our rates are a little higher but we always have the talent when you need it.

Price/Cost – TESTCo only hires experienced software testing engineers and quality assurance managers. As a result, our prices are a bit higher than most quality assurance outsourcing providers. But, when you combine the test production capability of an experienced quality assurance engineer with the strategy and planning of an experienced quality assurance manager, your project will be completed quicker and with much better results.  The price is higher but the cost is lower.

References – every TESTCo customer is happy to share their experiences working with us. You’ll hear where we succeeded and where we didn’t. Nobody is perfect every time. But, what you will also hear – guaranteed – is how our customers appreciate what we did and how we worked with them. Listen closely to hear their tips and tricks for getting the most out of their TESTCo quality assurance engineers and managers.

And then what?

We’d like to be your next quality assurance outsourcing partner. Contact us to find out how we can make your next quality assurance project a success without hassles.

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software qa services

Software QA Services Ignored Value

When is the value of software QA services lost or ignored? More often than you might believe.

In many software testing projects, there is a large chunk of real-world value that is left laying on the floor – ignored or overlooked. It’s a shame really, because software testing is actually just a small part of delivering the software QA services that result in the top-quality software that your customers expect.

And, here’s the kicker, that real-world value that was just left on the floor?  It could be had just for the asking – at no additional charge! In some cases, it is even offered and declined!

The Ignored QA Report

Insane at it seems, recommendations for improving the software development process are often ignored when provided along with the defect report by a software testing company. Here’s why this crazy thing happens.

Very few people wake up and decide to make a strategic decision about their software quality. Most people wake up, go to the daily stand-up meeting and get whacked with a software quality problem. Then, they either change their plans to stay late for the rest of the week, OR start looking for help with the specific software testing services they need to solve the problem that whacked them that morning.

The Expense of Re-Applying the Band-Aid

Adding some software testing services will help solve the software quality problem from today’s daily stand-up. More software testing will almost always find more defects that can then be corrected and retested. This will improve your current software product’s software quality.

There’s a catch – fixing today’s broken software will NOT help, improve, benefit or change the quality of your next software release.

If you’re in the software business or build software to run your business, you should know that this strategy is an expense rather than an investment in long term software quality.

And, it could be an investment if you just asked for or read that software quality recommendation report that is often provided by an outsourced software testing company (this is in addition to the usual defect reports).

Extracting the Total Value from Software QA Services

Software testing is only the measurement activity in a larger activity of producing quality software. Again, testing only locates defects and measures your current quality.

If you don’t read and analyze the root causes of the defects discovered, whatever problem that caused the software defect will still be there – lurking in the background to pop up again when it can harm you the most.

TESTCo’s Software QA Services delivers everything you need to find and fix your software defects. What’s more, TESTCo also provides you with the analysis and recommendations (at no additional cost) you need to convert the cost of testing into a long-lasting investment in software quality.

Expense or investment? Just software testing, or QA improvement? You choose.

 

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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.

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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.

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