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 Testing Services

How QA Testing Services Help You Build A Stronger Business

If your business builds software, mobile apps or websites (for yourself or others) then your business risk is high because of technology. QA testing services, in these cases, becomes a very necessary and strategic asset for the organization. After all, it’s your software, mobile app or website that brings you new customers, or is the product a customer buys from you. What could be more critical to your business than that? Answer: Nothing.

Frustration in the Face of Risk

It’s understandable if your frustration is growing because your current QA service (internal or outsourced) is giving you the run-around.

You know, those weekly Sprint meetings where you’re supposed to get everyone on the same page but you wind up feeling disgruntled? Like you didn’t really get the information you need and you’re uncertain about the status and quality of your website or software?

Or, you might even be on the edge of angry because of a fix-one, break-one scenario where your software defects get fixed but something else breaks. Yeah, and those surprising bugs that your users find after you’ve tested and released your software.

The Best QA Testing Services Start with the Right Strategy

You’ve heard it before – there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is also more than one way to test your software. The key (and our preliminary goal for you) is to get you as much QA testing services benefit as possible at the lowest possible cost.

Effective strategies start with a clear goal and list of constraints. These are the boundaries of the strategy and there are a variety of different ways to combine QA testing services in order to achieve your goal within your constraints. The best strategy will provide you with the most benefit for the least cost. At TESTCo, we’ll provide you with several strategies we’ve considered and a recommendation for the one that suits your goals the best.

It’s your choice in how we help you achieve your goals and get the most for your software testing project.

The Stakes Are High. QA Testing Services That Mitigate Business Risk.

We’ve been testing software since 2002. In that time we’ve perfected a process and philosophy that work really, really well for delivering business value beyond simply finding defects. You see, we don’t just find bugs, we help the development team deliver software that thrills and excites your customers.

Here’s what a QA testing service should deliver to you.

  • An understandable report on the exact features completed and tested every day – twice daily. Not just completed. Completed and Tested.
  • A detailed understanding of your business and technical goals and priorities and their current daily status during your Sprint. Your priorities, not whatever the dev team can get done.
  • A strong foundation of regression testing and measurement of coverage. Yes, good old-fashioned test cases built over time and then run as a final regression prior to releasing. No more surprise defects after you launch.
  • Weekly product quality meetings with the QA Manager to review your software development quality measures and processes with recommendations for small improvements that make a big difference. Say good bye to bad or missing estimates and buggy code that causes missed dates. You’ll see your software quality real time and be able to make smart adjustments to achieve your goals.
  • Daily software testing by a Test Engineer. Test Engineers take on Goals and solve Problems. Test Engineers have QA Strategies and Testing Tools to help them achieve your business and technical goals. Testers are generally limited to doing whatever you tell them to do.

An Effective QA Testing Process That Improves the Dev Team

If you’re not convinced you have the best development team for your mobile app, software or website, QA Testing Services from TESTCo can help you achieve your goal without firing your development team or cancelling your project.

All it takes is our simple process:

  • Set a clear goal everyone can understand and support
  • Build a strategy and plan that works within the constraints to achieve the goal.
  • Engineer real value – find the defects that matter, report them so they are easy to fix and validate them ASAP after they’ve been fixed.
  • Communicate quality status and recommendations every day – twice!
  • Discuss quality goals and process weekly and adjust as needed.

We Know There’s More to QA Than Just Testing Software

We’re experts that diligently and consistently test and measure the quality and readings of your product relative to your business and technical goals.

We do the QA Testing work necessary for effective business and technical decisions. If you don’t have a daily report on your goals and quality, you’re missing key information that you need to build a stronger and more profitable business.

TESTCo provides everything you need in QA Testing Services to easily and successfully launch your website, mobile app or software.

Say good-bye to frustration, buggy software, disappointed customers and missed prospects. Say hello to a stronger and more profitable business because your software is an asset rather than a liability.

If this makes sense to you let’s talk about the state of software QA in your organization. Just click the green button on this page to schedule a time to chat with me.

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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.

Why 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.

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.

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?
  2. What variety and type of QA strategies do you consider when evaluating a client’s needs? What is your “go-to” strategy?
  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?

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

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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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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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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