Should software quality be a core competency or should you consider outsourcing software testing? There are strong arguments for both and “both” is probably the best right answer.
A better question would be “How could I build software quality as a core competence AND outsource testing activities?” This approach is the Genius of the And. A simple strategy to accomplish both can avoid a wide variety of issues and build a stronger software product and company. A good strategy starts with a thorough understanding of the problem.
A typical business problem that we see frequently at TESTCo is “How can I get the software testing talent I need exactly when I need it?” Software is expensive to build. Really good software, the kind that drives business revenue growth consumes engineering talent and cost like a wildfire! Generally speaking, you can’t outsource the core engineering required to make your software work. You can outsource the building of some features but really good software is typically built in-house. You can outsource Quality Control if you can’t find or afford it but this will cause your choices for potential outsource testing to be even more narrow – not every outsourced software testing firm has this talent and capability. You should however, outsource your software testing activities if you have engineering budget constraints.
Software testing is an activity inside of software quality control. Quality control – producing software that meets scope, budget and quality goals – is actually the core competency most software companies seek. Most outsourced software testing can provide good software testing but fails to do much for quality control. Some key indicators that your software testing outsourcing provider does provide quality control include test strategies, test plans and even a test case management system.
The Problems with Core Competencies and Software Testing Outsourcing
The very idea of outsource testing tends to oppose the idea of building core competencies. Here’s why:
- Building a core competency in software quality is expensive or takes a long time. Software quality expertise can be acquired by hiring an expert but this can be expensive. Training is readily available but there is a difference between hearing it in class and seeing it in the real world.
- It is hard to outsource testing. There are thousands of potential outsource testing solutions – companies, contractors, employees, interns. How to choose the right one?
- What about software quality? Software testing is only a part of software quality. Software quality is the art and science of balancing inputs and outputs to build software that meets business goals.
This problem now closely resembles a typical problem in software quality where you need to achieve what appears to be opposing goals.
Outsourcing Software Testing Combined with Core Competencies is Best Solution
The “Genius of the And” can shed some light on how to accomplish both goals of building core competencies and outsource testing.
- Add software quality to your business strategy as an advantage that can produce leverage. If you could plan, manage and deliver your software on time without defects, would you have a distinct advantage over your competition?
- Easily find a strong outsource testing partner. Stop looking for more testers, they probably won’t help you. Look for outsourcing software testing experts who understand software quality and your business model.
- Build a software quality strategy. First, get the current situation under control. Nobody can test everything so build a test strategy and then a test plan that matches your business and technical goals. Then, understand your critical metrics, how they impact your software quality and how they support your business goals. Finally, craft a software quality strategy that combines your software quality assets with your technical and cultural advantages to determine the best set of actions for each asset and advantage that meets your business goals.
A simple strategy and a trusted partner who is aligned with your technical and business goals is really all you need – now, how to find that trusted partner?