Digging Deep

On a recent bug that Stan found, his initial report contained enough information that developers would know how to replicate the bug. Without being asked, Stan then proceeded to dig deeper into the behavior to better understand it. His investigation and follow-up information turned the bug fix effort from potentially several hours down to less than five minutes. I am often quite impressed with the depth of Stan’s observations, but this one was so clear cut that I wanted to flag it.

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Fantastic With Our Customer

The TESTCo team is very responsive and knowledgeable of the scope of this work/delivery. Great to work with, I didn’t have to follow up with them once, and they were fantastic facing our customer.

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Very Thorough and Responsive

TESTCo has been very thorough, communicative, and responsive.  When issues are discovered, they provide detailed documentation of the issue and how to reproduce it, which is very helpful for debugging.  Their help has been valuable for ensuring consistent performance.

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Increased Our Revenue Velocity

When I took over product management at my small software start up, we had never employed anyone as a dedicated product manager. We had no QA process to speak of, and the company nearly went of business due to the costs of supporting a very low quality product release. QA was all ad-hoc and fell primarily to the engineers writing the code for bug fixes and new features. As part of establishing product management best practices, I started looking for a way to build out standard QA processes. Needless to say I was worried about the company as a going concern, and improving the quality of our products was key to righting the ship.We nearly went out of business due to the costs of a low quality release. First and foremost, I needed to make sure that future releases achieved some minimum viable level of quality. I also needed a process that was repeatable and that I could afford to carry out for each new release. So while quality was our biggest pain point, standardization and budget/affordability were also concerns.

We started out by hiring a QA resource in-house. Given our budget, we opted for someone without a lot of experience. This tester did a good job of getting us started on standardization of process, but we didn’t have enough capacity to get scalable standard tools and coverage to meet our minimum quality level. More importantly, training and replacement were huge obstacles, both in terms of time and money. When our tester moved on to another job, we had to practically start over when hiring a new tester to take the position, and we were essentially without QA throughout the new hire training period.

After having difficulty finding a good option for an in-house tester later, we did try to outsource QA with an offshore firm. While the offshore firm was affordable, we ended up getting nothing of value after working with them for about a year. The testers were not managed well, no one was expert enough to offer us best practices advice, AND the testers were not good at letting us know when they did not understand instructions.

In the end, we continued to limp along with Excel-based test cases that our in-house testers had developed. As product manager, I was spending over 50% of my time covering QA on my own. So it’s not a surprise that the rest of our product management efforts suffered. Then, we found TestCo. TestCo offered extensive QA process and management expertise, along with a flexible pool of testing resources, that allowed us to achieve our product quality goals within our budget constraints. I have more confidence in TestCo than any other partner I have ever worked with. I know that when I get too busy to monitor our QA activities, they can be trusted to keep QA running smoothly and make sure I’m aware of what needs my attention. I no longer have to worry about maintaining QA at some minimum acceptable level. I can look to the future and aim for top quality products, and TestCo will advise me on how to do just that.

TestCo, first and foremost, is my primary resource for QA best practices. They advise me on how to improve what we are currently doing, and they look for opportunities to expand our efforts to make the process more efficient and comprehensive. As part of the advising, they also do the hard work of finding the right resources for my projects and ensuring that they are fully trained to do the work. After the testers have been engaged for a project, they offer the additional benefit of experienced QA professionals who manage the team of testers.

All of these benefits allow me to focus on critical product management like building products that my customers want to buy! In addition to reducing our historical support costs by improving the quality of our product releases, they are also helping us to make our goal of continuous delivery happen. By shortening our test cycles with automation and plugging testers into the development process while new feature code is being written, we are expanding our ability to deliver value to the market faster and increase our revenue velocity as a result.

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Two Major Assets

TESTCo brings to the table two major assets. The first is the formal software QA testing experiences and methodology that we can benefit from TESTCo’s best practices. The second is the varying resource demands we have depending on release cycles.

Having a local presence that provides daily status updates is invaluable. I believe the key to success with offshore software testing or development is the constant communication and getting issues resolved as soon as they occur. Going forward, we expect that TESTCo will enable us to better handle the peak demands in both development and QA.

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Eliminate Performance Bottlenecks

We are very pleased with our decision to work with TESTCo. We recently brought TESTCo in to complete a Load and Performance Testing project for one of our customers. The testing helped us find and eliminate several performance bottlenecks that could have completely halted our customer’s application and business operations. As a result of TESTCo’s testing, our customer avoided a potential loss of $1M and we further enhanced the strong customer relationship.

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Consistently Delivered

I have to say that our experience with TESTCo has been very positive for the two years we’ve been working with them. We’ve been in India with them, and also in Ukraine, and they have consistently delivered. In fact, we are in the process of expanding our relationship with them for the third time in those two years. We have about 8 people in Ukraine (or openings for up to 8, I believe) right now. They are providing software QA testing and automated software testing now, and we’ve just added engineering to the mix in the last week or so… two thumbs up.

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Easy and Painless

Our company has never outsourced software QA testing work before and TESTCo made it both easy and painless. Throughout the process, daily check-ins and progress reports were available; our project manager made sure that we were always getting the work for which we were paying, and the entire process was kept on track and on budget.

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Fleshed Out the QA Process

When we first engaged TESTCo, we had a detailed dev process with a place noted for functional QA testing, but the QA processes weren’t fully in place and we had just started building test cases. I was extremely busy as the development manager for the company and my initial concern was that it would take a lot of my time to ensure that outsourcing software QA testing services would go smoothly.

But working with TESTCo has been great! They ramped quickly and within two weeks TESTCo fleshed out the QA process for us. Today our relationship is very productive as they handle the day-to-day management of functional QA so I can focus on development. Using TESTCo has enabled me to be as hands off as I need to be while keeping me informed of the status of each product being tested.

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Increased Productivity of Engineers

Our experience with TESTCo has been very positive and they’ve added significant value to our company. A huge plus in working with them, and one of the main reasons they were selected, is that TESTCo manages the software QA testing team directly. This enables me to focus on the key components of development and software QA testing without having to spend time managing TESTCo’s QA engineers directly.

By using TESTCo to drive our software QA testing, we’ve dramatically increased the productivity of our engineers. Now they can spend more time focused on product development and receive almost immediate feedback on fixes needed since testing occurs overnight. Being able to complete software QA testing throughout the development process versus just testing at the end of each milestone has helped us to continually strengthen the quality of our product. In addition, the cost savings of working with TESTCo have been huge! Just for software regression testing on patches, TESTCo has saved us almost 150 hours of staff time over the course of a year- and that is just one aspect of the testing services we use

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Instantaneous Expertise

TESTCo provided instantaneous expertise in software QA testing that integrated well with our development process.

Our testing needs vary throughout the year. TESTCo provides flexible software testing services that ramps up when we need it. Plus, their engineers dig deep into our application looking for vulnerabilities that we may not have considered.

TESTCo’s process dovetails with our agile development methods, which facilitates a ‘develop today and test tonight’ methodology. TESTCo staff are consummate collaborators; enhancing our process as necessary, and offering solutions on demand. TESTCo reacts quickly to our changing software QA testing needs. They work closely with us to formulate testing plans based on our priorities, and then shift resources quickly when our priorities change. Our local testing manager stays in constant communication with us, and is a reliable and integral part of our development team. It is obvious that TESTCo measures their success by our success.

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Peace of Mind

We work with TESTCo because I did the research and found it to be the best option for our company at this point in our lifecycle.  We needed to be MS OEM certified ASAP and the TESTCo team was able to jump in and get it done. The process is not easy and TESTCo’s experience of having done it before was invaluable. Personally, TESTCo provides me with peace of mind.  I know when I request something to be tested it will be done quickly, done well, and done with a lot of attention to detail.

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