Outsourced Testing

In the field of software engineering, a software development project comes with the budget and time constraints. Organizations, involved in the software project, emphasize and focus more on the development process than the testing, keeping in. They always try to put all the sincere efforts, precious time, cost and all well equipped resources, towards the development phase and simultaneously gives much less importance, to the testing activities.

However, the need and importance of testing a software product, is as equal as to that its development. A well mannered testing process adds improvement to its further development, to ensure the maximum achievable quality of a product. Therefore, most of the organizations, especially, small-sized or start-ups, who can't afford or devote time and resources to the testing process, goes for the option of engaging external or outsourced agency or company, to test their software product, thoroughly and attentively, in an effective manner.

So, based on the above facts, it is pertinent to state that an outsourced testing does not signifies any testing approach or technique or method, rather it is a strategic management step, taken in the direction of reducing cost, efforts and resources, which may be incurred on a testing phase, and now can be divert and utilize for the development. In-house testing demands much larger cost, efforts and resources, so to produce best results. But with the scarcity of resources or limited resources, along with the cost and deadlines, associated with a software project, forces the organization to involve third party, to carry out the testing of a product.

One more reason that may be interpreted behind the introduction of outsourced testing, is the lack of competency of an organization, to perform software testing, i.e. most of the IT/software companies are development oriented organization, equipped with the technical staff, having skills & knowledge in development, only, along with the development tools and environment.

What needs to be outsourced?

An organization has the choice of either outsourcing the complete testing process or only some of the activities. Based on the different perspectives, the testing modules/aspects to be outsourced, may be categorized into 3 different classes, namely Testing Levels, Testing Activities, Testing Types.

Testing Levels:  Testing is performed at various levels viz Unit, integration, system, acceptance level, etc. However, some of these testing levels, requires the involvement of the development team, such as in the unit and integration testing, is performed by the developers, only. Further, some of these levels, needs the production environment also, to test a software product, such as in the acceptance level of testing. Therefore, based on the stated facts, an organization has to decide, which testing level will be appropriate for the outsourcing.

Testing Types:  Similar to the levels of testing, there are numerous testing techniques available, used to evaluate a software product, from each different perspective and scenario. Although, any testing type may be performed, at the third party, testing forms involving repetitions and requiring sufficient amount of time and efforts, are highly preferred option for outsourcing, such as Regression Testing. In addition, various types of non-functional testing, such as load, performance, usability, security, etc., may also be outsourced, as it concerns with the performance aspect, rather than the functionality.

Testing Activities:   Apart from the execution of the tests, a testing life cycle phase, comprises of several activities, from planning to defect reporting, and the organization has to decide, which of these activities needs to be outsourced, keeping in account, the necessary involvement of the development organization, such as in the test planning stage.

Points to remember, while outsourcing the testing

Handing over your developed product, to some other persons or the organization, to perform quality testing over it, may not seems to be an easy task. As an organization, will be unaware of the third party's standards, approaches, methods, conditions, environment, effectiveness and efficiency in performing the testing task, in a well defined manner. Therefore, certain points, needs to be considered, while an external agency, for the purpose of outsourcing the testing process, such as

  • Identifying and measuring the quality of work, being performed by the outsourcing companies, with the help of available tools and system.
  • Approaches, methods and standards followed by the organization.
  • Location and Time-zone of the outsourced agency should be closer to the organization, so as to maintain the compatibility between both of them, without any additional cost.
  • Performing reviews and analysis of the past records of the companies, to verify the organization's competency, in completing the contract.
  • Identifying the area of expertise, in which the external agency, is proficient.
  • Degree of flexibility, being provided or possess, depending upon the uncertain requirements, activities, budget and time constraints.
  • Measuring the business level process, to detect the efficiency of an outsourcing organization, in communicating and responding to its clients, in an effective and speedy way.

In nutshell, it may be stated that outsourcing the testing process, may be seen as the best possible alternative, to carry out the testing of a software product, in a much lesser cost & time, compare to, in-house testing. Further, it may help an organization to devote their complete resources, time and efforts, in the development, so as to maximize quality of a product, in the development stage, itself.