Outsourcing Software Testing, or any other IT related service for that matter, to a specialist service provider is nothing new. We expect this practice will carry on (we hope!) for many more years to come.
What does change however (and rapidly sometimes) is the environment your business is operating within and the technology you will use to build value propositions within your business. The implications for your organisations Software Testing effort is two-fold. Firstly this will change the key risks for the business you operate within which will subsequently change your companies Test Strategy. Secondly technology advancements will drastically change the skillset required with your testing function to work effectively and efficiently.
Here's where outsourced service providers normally step in, providing a solution (in the form of expert knowledge) to help solve the particular problem identified by a client. Before you engage with an outsource software testing company, here's 3 things to consider.
You get what you pay for
We're firm believers in the saying "buy cheap, buy twice"... its something we all know and appreciate with physical products, but seem to not consider as much when purchasing a service. Or at least its harder to spot false economies. Take time to consider options that at first may just appear like they are "more expense for the same service".. we have seen this lead to false economies on many large projects, which ended up costing several hundred thousand pounds if calculated . One thing we recommend looking for is a commercial guarantee on quality - if a supplier is willing to be paid based on outcomes and contractually willing to NOT be paid if those outcomes are not met, you may well pay more if you look strictly at the "day rate cost", but you probably pay less in the long run for a far superior quality of service!
Cultural Fit is crucial
People deliver projects, and the success and failure of your project will depend on the people you have on your team(s). This of course is amplified in larger, more complex projects. Whilst we are firm believers in cultural diversity (the best teams being those can debate and even have friendly conflict to get to the best solution) you want to consider whether the supplier understands the culture you have within your organisation and is going to complement it, rather than work against it!
Start with the end in mind
Last, but by no means least, we would encourage you to consider what the endgame of your relationship with an outsourced service provider looks like. It may seem odd that we would suggest this, but to us there is a natural life-cycle with our client engagements that end when we help solve a problem and enable our clients to solve it for themselves going forward - like a graduation of sorts. If you "start with the end in mind" then you can shape a Statement of Work that ensures your supplier is contractually obliged to deliver against those endgame objectives, which in our opinion is the best way to spend your money with a supplier and ensure you don't become overly dependant on them (unless that is what you want!).
Thank you for reading this short blog on things to consider before outsourcing to a software testing consultancy. These are all things we consider ourselves when selecting a different suppliers to work and or partner with, and things we talk about with our potential clients for our own services.