Increasingly, technology powers businesses – and software powers that technology.
To ensure that the power source is easy to use and high quality, more and more, QA outsourcing services are used as companies ask the experts for help with that detailed, but critical, aspect of software development.
More Than a Buzzword
In a technology-saturated business environment, it’s easy for QA to become a bit of a buzzword.
Let’s break that down.
A quality software QA should typically answer a handful of questions:
- Can the software be installed easily?
- How does the software perform?
- What is the software compatible with?
- Can the software recover from failure?
- How many resources are used to run the software?
- Is it portable?
- Is it secure?
- Is the software reliable?
While the list of questions is short, getting to the answers requires several different types of QA – and a significant time and resource commitment from businesses. This is where thorough in-house QA often becomes impractical for companies, particularly small businesses, whose core functions are not centered around software development and software QA.
If your core staff has a sale function, can they really squeeze in QA? And do you want them to?
To solve this resource challenge, companies often turn to QA outsourcing services for a pragmatic solution that saves company resources and avoids cutting corners on QA – the best of both worlds.
QA is integrated throughout software development, typically involving several areas:
As the name suggests, the QA expert tests personally:
- How integration fares
- How a user feels (also called User Acceptance Testing, or UAT)
- How the system itself performs.
A manual QA is custom, personal, and – you guessed it – time-consuming. Because it has an individual at the helm, manual QA is likely to catch issues users would experience in a live environment, and is a logical step particularly with the launch of a new software.
The pace of today’s business environment is rapid, and businesses are typically expected or required to match that rapid pace with speedy software releases. As agile project management becomes more widely adopted, pressure to deliver continuously (and therefore, to test continuously) increases.
Oh, and generally this continuous testing is expected to also be both speedy and low cost.
Enter QA automation.
Recent numbers from Capgemini’s World Quality 2015-2016 Report show a significant increase in test case automation: use climbed from 28% to 45%.
QA automation can be a prime tool to meet the goal of constituent testing, but only when the QA automation is expertly established – otherwise, it can become another pitfall for cost and time.
A well-designed QA automation system should include:
- A developed test: test data, test plan, and any necessary scripts
- Feedback: notes on issues, reports from the test, and related metrics
- Bug catching: defects, or bugs, should be tracked, fixed, and verified
- Regular updates and maintenance
- A roadmap: Test planning, schedule, and confirmation on feasibility
Security and Vulnerability QA
Software applications are everywhere: on mobile devices, on laptops, on desktops, or on all of the above. In many cases, those devices are employees’ personal devices to boot.
Why does this matter?
The prolific availability of devices is coupled with increased vulnerability to hacking and virus attacks. Said another way, every device connected to your business can represent an opening for hackers. And while it may sound like it, this isn’t sci-fi lore. Remember the staggering Equifax breach in July, estimated to impact 145 million people? And that’s just one of several significant breaches in 2017. So unless you plan to convert everyone back to pen and paper (which probably isn’t your best bet), security QA is essential to your business to guard against breaches.
Security QA looks a lot like hacking – only hacking from the team you have on your side. Security QA includes:
- An analysis of the overall security framework
- Mapping possible threats – and planning to combat them
- Testing the plan
- Reporting vulnerabilities
Benefits of QA Outsourcing Services
Getting stakeholders on board with an added expense can sometimes be a tough sell, particularly in an arena like QA outsourcing, where a quality job means the user (you) shouldn’t notice anything in particular about the software – except a smooth experience.
But asking the pros to tackle this component of your software development makes good business sense, for several reasons:
- You’re in expert hands.
- You may spend a little but will save a lot. Although your company will pay for QA outsourcing services, that cost pales in comparison to the expense you could incur dispersing a faulty software – or worse, one that exposes you to costly security breaches. Ongoing QA helps ensure you can react quickly to issues and solve them before a wider distribution renders problems more expensive. And, let’s face it: wouldn’t you rather have a QA professional find a bug than a furious CTO?
- You get a fresh set of eyes. Too often QA is a case of the fox watching the hen house. It can be painful to scrap part of a software project and start over if the QA team member knows all the effort that went into getting over hurdles in development. Even for the best in-house QA team, it’s tough to be objective when you’re biased with your organizational knowledge. QA outsourcing services provide you with a neutral party – our Genies don’t have to be concerned with navigating office politics, but will make sure you have the best functioning software.
Secrets to Successful QA Outsourcing
QA outsourcing is often a strategic move as much as it is a cost-saver, as this can improve quality, reduce risk, and establish a clearer testing process. In a recent whitepaper, AppLabs highlights a few important elements to cover for a successful QA outsourcing process.
- Determine degree. Will your business outsource in increments, or will you outsource everything? Understanding your international strategy, decide on geographic location, and determining a strategy will create a clear structure to begin. Many models are offsite 70-80%.
- Create Service Level Agreements (SLAs). SLAs that outline what service your partner will provide. While some aspects may seem obvious, clearly outlining everything leaves little room for disappointment or unmet expectations. If you have an expectation, share it. Include on-time delivery, client satisfaction, effective, system downtime, availability, and any other aspect important to your business.
- Working with multiple people across multiple parties requires the right interfaces and best practices.
- Get going. Officially, this is a “period of mobilization,” but semantics aside, this is the time to get tactical. Set up a method for communicating, define the working structure, share standards, and build a strategy.
- Understand how your provider can effectively communicate, tackle issues, escalate, and report.
- Plan to be flexible – and to grow. QA outsourcing services shouldn’t be rigid to point of losing flexibility to adjust to changes in scope or timing. Ideally, establishing this new practice is going to strengthen – and grow – your business, which means you’ll also need to be able to grow with your provider.
- Expect improvements. You’re bringing in a team of experts through QA outsourcing, and you should expect your partner to assess capabilities, find gaps in process, and ultimately, make improvements.
- Protect your property. Establish security standards to control access and ensure your intellectual property (IP) is safe. This often includes nondisclosure agreements, IP protection, and employee confidentiality contracting.
QA outsourcing is here to stay – and likely to become an increasingly key part of software development as businesses continue to strive to develop and adapt quickly because it’s a smart solution to a big business challenge.