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This article is by Featured Blogger Ruslan Desyatnikov, Founder and CEO, QA Mentor, Inc. originally published on his Blog Page. Republished with the author’s permission.
Choosing the right software testing partner is an important step toward shortening your software release cycle and stopping defects before they’re reported by your customers. But the downstream benefits extend far further than that – a professional software testing vendor can strengthen your company’s brand by boosting your reputation and, as a result, unlock new revenue streams.
I know firsthand how drawn-out and multifaceted the selection process can be, including how detrimental a poor choice can be for your business. As the founder and CEO of an independent software testing company, I have an insider’s view into the field of software quality assurance: It includes some of the most progressive companies that adopt innovative technologies on time, but it also contains short-term opportunists that will leave your code with more holes than a golf course. Plus, over the course of my career, I’ve vetted countless contractors, consultants and other professional services – from questionable companies with gaudy ads to professional vendors whose promises live up to expectations.
Assessing outsourced partners is often a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope enterprises benefit from my experience and read the following list of evaluation standards so they can choose a software testing partner that’s the best fit for their business.
Thorough Vendor Scrutiny
Many vendors tend to overpromise before you’re locked into an agreement. They lure clients in with attractive prices and assurance of grade-A quality, only to underdeliver as soon as the relationship begins. To avoid subpar service delivery and ignored deadlines, make a detailed list of questions to ask the vendor. For example, does your potential partner plan to complete the work using only its in-house resources? Or does the company subcontract? Both approaches can add value to your business, but you need to be aware of logistics behind the scenes, and be OK with it.
Bringing testers into the fold who have no previous experience in your market vertical can severely delay testing and your release. But engaging a team of software testers who have unvarnished acumen into the specific particulars of your business environment will boost efficacy and ensure that business-critical systems receive the testing priority that they deserve.
Location, Location, Location
Competitive quality assurance rates often hinge on lower labor costs in emerging markets, which tend to be remote locations — at least by North American standards. While globalization has boosted business standards everywhere – even in isolated regions – selecting a vendor in a far-flung place may lead to logistical problems such as visas, poor hotel accommodation and inexperience with local customs. This may hamper expectations and end up costing you more in time and commitment than the attractive rate you initially signed up for.
What You’re Paying For
Offshore vendors are burgeoning everywhere, which is reducing costs for enterprises and enabling investments in significant revenue drivers, such as product and marketing. But if a sales representative wants to cajole you into paying $8 per hour for offshore testing resources, that’s a major red flag. Real professionals charge considerably more. To recap, you’re testing indispensable business systems; if they’re not thoroughly vetted by experts, you may weaken your release quality and erode your client base in the long run.
The Value Of Niche Teams
Restaurants with only a handful of menu items are guaranteed to provide a superior gastronomic experience than a chain restaurant offering everything from ethnic cuisine to burgers and fries. The principle is no different in quality assurance. High-skilled testing services are more difficult to find versus huge consortiums packed with a legion of poorly qualified software testers. While it may require more due diligence on your part to find a good outsourced partner, selecting a boutique vendor with high-caliber testers will deliver greater value in the long run.
The Word On The Street
Find out what industry players are saying about your potential software testing vendors. What publications are their advertorials appearing in? How many awards have they accrued under their belt? Industry reputation is huge and it’s never been easier to peek behind the curtain to learn about their status. Whether you decide to go with an up-and-coming QA rock star or an established business, it’s best to ask around and read the fine print before making a final decision.
A Detailed Service-Level Agreement
A thorough SLA will not only protect you against potential crooks, but it will also provide a detailed summary of project specifications and deadlines for each testing phase. This will reduce ambiguity about every task that needs to be completed. Another purpose of the SLA is to draft guidance and protocols should problems come up during various testing phases. It ensures that all stakeholders are prepared in advance, and no one acts ad-hoc throughout the management process.
As mentioned earlier, a growing number of software testing partners are located in developing nations, which can hinder collaboration due to distance and different time zones. Ask your potential software testing vendor how the company stays connected with various teams scattered in different parts of the globe. What communication platforms is the firm using? How quickly is feedback internalized when bottlenecks arise? Miscommunication can affect productivity and create a culture of segregation unless management uses the right technology and processes to avoid it.
Finding an outsourced software testing partner that outperforms isn’t without its challenges. Moreover, making the decision can feel overwhelming given the number of vendors that invade your inbox on a daily basis hoping to win your business. An informed decision requires a bit more dedication than just selecting a team that will simply pass or fail test cases and report defects.
Your software testing partner should be viewed as an extension of your organization and its ongoing promise to generate enduring value to your customers. Taking into account the eight criteria listed above will help you select a software testing company that will act as your long-term strategic partner with your best interests in mind.