Quality Assurance

Technology

A brief guide: QA outsourcing & why it may be a great idea for your business

Setting up an in-house QA team can be a hassle. This is why most tech companies prefer to outsource their QA processes. Here's a guide to help you do it efficiently.

By

Rabia Hai

March 20, 2020

11 min read. March 20, 2020

You may be thinking if you really need to outsource a Quality Assurance (QA) team for your business, or not. I understand. It’s a debate every company, regardless of their business model, goes through. If you’re dabbling with multiple products and services, and you’re thinking you won’t need an outsourced QA team, you may need to think again. Launching different types of products and services requires specific tools and techniques, and most of the time, you cannot find all the QA expertise in-house. If you set up your own QA team in-house, it will take tons of dedicated effort in terms of time and research. Also, many times, it’s just not feasible to invest in resources for a one-time project release. Once the project ends, you’ll end up having resources on the bench, rendering the ROI simply not worth it.

What’s the best way to tackle these issues? One word: Outsourcing. There are a number of companies around the world that outsource their QA teams to businesses that are in need of a short-term QA engagement. It is becoming popular with global businesses, obtaining more marketability as it evolves into a complete, standalone industry. QA outsourcing has been in practice for a long time, and its prevalence depends on the value it offers to the customers, as well as the practicality of the business model. It is still very early to comment on how far QA outsourcing can build its foundation, as a whole separate service in the industry, but it will not be wrong to say that the stats are showing a promising future.

What type of companies could best leverage QA outsourcing?

I know of many companies that don’t have any set QA processes in place, i.e. no dedicated resources. Let me tell you this, if you think your team of software engineers can handle development and testing, both, you’re mistaken. It’s not that they can’t, it’s just that the outcome wouldn’t be high-quality and there would still be a lot of bugs or inconveniences in the final product or solution. Imagine, if you write the code for an application, and then you’re asked to test your own work — you may be able to detect the flaws in logic (if any), but not in the user flows and user experience. That’s because you kept the client’s requirements in mind, not the end user’s journey.

Software testing is originating as a necessary element of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). You want to ensure your products pass through defined quality processes, and are quality approved. The companies that already have an established QA department and team usually do not require QA outsourcing unless the team lacks the skills peremptory to perform.

In addition, a few factors that may drive QA outsourcing could be:

  1. One-time Delivery
    One-time delivery refers to, say, a project that is to be delivered to a client and won’t need continued QA, post-production. However, since you have to deliver the project to your client, you need to have testers with a very specific skill set. Now, one way to go about it is: train your existing, internal resources for those skills. But, it would take a lot of time and effort to train existing resources for skills that are only to be used once. ROI would be low and it would cause more harm than good by increasing project delivery time and cost. In such a scenario, you can always outsource your QA team and deliver a functional project on time.

  2. Time-bound Projects
    The success of a team lies in its quality and promptness to deliver. As the deadline approaches, the pressure builds up, and that’s when a lot can go wrong. There could be obstructions in requirement gathering, design and even development, consequently, delaying the QA cycle & project release. Most of the time, projects are time-bound and such delays could result in increased cost & effort. To overcome situations like these, outsourcing can be a foothold. The outsourced QA team can help the internal QA team to get the work done in the predefined time bracket.

  3. Budget Management
    Regardless of the delivery timeline of your project, it is always wise to find a cost-effective approach that results in high efficiency and quality — QA outsourcing is a cost-cutting method. It is very exorbitant to hire and maintain an internal team and equip them with different tools and skills. The easiest way is to contract a trusted company for QA outsourcing, so you can handle short-term, as well as long-term projects with ease.

How does QA outsourcing work?

QA outsourcing follows a complete contract and a systematic workflow. It is very important to double-check your objectives and how far you want to take QA outsourcing. Some questions you could ask yourself could be:

  • Do you plan to build your own team in the future?
  • Do you want to take a QA outsourcing partnership for a long time?
  • What projects are you hiring a QA team for?
  • Do you have a reputed outsourcing company in your mind?

Before going into the actual contract, set a clear perspective of your contract and objectives. Your mission and vision should be aligned with those of your clients. You and the outsourced company should be on the same page about future engagements, roadmap, and plans if you are planning to build a long-term relationship.

Pricing

Now, I know the most pressing question most of you would have is about the pricing. How much would it cost to have an outsourced QA team onboard? Generally, the payment is made on an hourly or monthly basis, depending on the business model. The cost is inclusive of HR, internal management, office supplies, office space, and additional expenses. This also includes cost for training, equipment, etc.

There are two types of costing methods:

  • Cost Model: A fixed amount is paid per resource, and the third-party supplier (in this case, the outsourced QA team supervisor) manages this money (outsourcing company can spend money as per their plan and feasibility).

  • Cost Plus: You know the fixed amount each resource from the outsourced team will get, however, you also manage any added expense, such as hardware & software requirements, network-related issues, and recreational plans, If any.

QA outsourcing has its risks and can prove to be a bumpy process, however, following the right plan can help you overcome the obstacles.

The Pros & Cons of QA Outsourcing

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers is: Would QA outsourcing be good for us? Should we go for it or try to manage it in-house? For all of you, I’m listing down the pros and cons of QA outsourcing, so you know how it may prove to be good or bad for you. It has its perks but we cannot overlook the risks involved. 

Pros: 

  • Cost-effective 
    QA outsourcing results in reduced project costs If you are on a budget, yet want to produce quality work, and build a reputation in the market, QA outsourcing is for you.
  • Enhanced quality 
    Outsourced QA teams have relevant skills & certifications. They can work wonders for your product, and assist in defining future sprints by prioritizing issues & features.
  • Focused attention 
    With QA testing off your plate, you get more time to focus on your core competencies and goals. This reduces pressure on the devs, resulting in quick & high-quality delivery.
  • Reduced time 
    Outsourced QA teams are equipped with the right tools and techniques. They begin working on tasks as early as they are assigned, allowing for quick project delivery.
  • Enhanced user experience 
    An external team with a different perspective can bring up inaccuracies, miscalculations, and blunders, which may have been missed, otherwise. This results in better UX and helps with customer retention & engagement. 
  • Real-time testing 
    Sometimes, a product is developed in a location quite different than where it has to be launched and run. This may lead to post-release issues, resulting in the loss of customers. It is preferable to perform software testing pre-release, and for that, an outsourced team located in the launch area can be a blessing.

Cons:

  • Lack of communication 
    It is very easy to communicate face to face while working in the same place. Outsourced teams mostly are not co-located with the development teams. This can result in miscommunication and misunderstanding. 
  • Expectations vs. reality 
    The outsourced company might not perform as great as expected, resulting in buggy deliveries and mistrust between the two entities. This can either be because of unrealistic expectations set by you or owing to the negligence of the outsourced team or the blockers underway.
  • Privacy and security issues
    Many companies are not comfortable with sharing their private data and information with a third-party service provider. Risks like security breaches and data-stealing are very high. This is where the credibility of the outsourced QA team matters a lot. 
  • Different time zones 
    The outsourced teams might work in a different time zone than you. When the work hours don’t overlap much, it gets very difficult to handle emergency issues and releases, resulting in unnecessary delays.
  • Increased dependency
    Hiring a team other than yours is an added liability. You have to rely on external resources to perform well for your releases. The performance of your business not only depends on your team but also on the third-party team. If any of them fails to perform, it can affect your business adversely.
  • Difficult to track
    Monitoring the progress of an outsourced team can be a challenging task. There could be stark differences in the actual progress and the progress that they may be showing. All of it could come to the surface at the time of release, and then, all anyone can do is place blame on misunderstandings about the progress. This could disrupt the entire project timeline, and not in a good way.

Optimizing workflows to help your business grow better

QA outsourcing gives optimal results, keeping in mind the budget and time constraints. It’s a general misperception that quality comes after development — quality check is not a process that merely starts when development completes. Rather, it begins as soon as the development cycle kicks in.

These days quality process starts right from the commencement of the project and lasts till the delivery. Even after the delivery, maintenance and enhancement of features require a dedicated QA team to keep a check on new and existing features and ensure they work as expected. With market competition increasing each day, quality has become a key driver to success. It is one of the most influential factors to build and retain a user-base.

There are a lot of well-reputed outsourcing companies in the market that offer experienced and skilled testers. Global businesses hire them to optimize their workflows and product experience. QA outsourcing is easy to establish but also helps in relationship building with different outsourced companies to get them to hire again once a project is successfully deployed. 

The pitstops and how to overcome them

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when opting for external QA services. Since the team won’t be in-house, it is possible for some issues to arise. However, in order to carry out smooth project deliveries, it is essential to handle all issues, and do it in a way that doesn’t affect your work. For example, a few issues could be:

  1. Handle communication barriers 
    It is very important to define clear communication channels and mediums for clear and smooth communication.

  2. Scheduling
    Defining the working hours before you start can help both teams stay on the same page during software development and testing. The outsourced team should be available at the time you operate.

  3. Document everything
    It is best to have everything related to cost and expenditure settled before the QA process is started. It is recommended to create a written contract to avoid any discrepancies.

  4. Leave(s) management 
    Sometimes due to unavoidable situations, people need to takeoffs, it is necessary to have backup resources in case of unavailability of people but the urgency of release.

  5. Typical client employee relation 
    QA outsourcing works amazingly well when a friendly relationship is built between the people across two companies. This increases communication and passion to work.

Is it the best solution for you?

In the end, it’s up to you to evaluate where your business stands and if you require an outsourced QA team. 

QA outsourcing is not so tricky to work with if you have a clear vision of your business model and its workflows. A well-informed choice of vendor, regular assessment, proper management and patience to deal with the challenges are the key things to consider when deciding whether to opt for QA outsourcing or not.

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