If you’re looking at outsourcing your testing needs, then there are a lot of things you need to consider in finding the right strategy for your business. Traditionally, outsourcing demand was driven by a desire to cut costs, but many organizations have realized that you get what you pay for. There’s a big difference between looking for a partner to add value and looking for short-term hired help.
When shopping for a prospective partner, expertise and experience are obviously crucial, but you also want innovation. Measuring the value of innovation in outsourcing relationships is vital, and it’s something that 35% of respondents to Deloitte’s Global Outsourcing Survey 2016 are already doing.
So how do you identify the right fit for your business? It’s all about asking the right questions.
Screening Potential Partners
If you expect to find an outsourcing partner to help you take your company to the next level, then make sure that you do your due diligence. Ask them to demonstrate some sort of proven innovation that they developed. It could be a tool they developed or a new process they created. You want evidence that they’re forward-looking and inventive.
It’s also crucial that they have problem-solving abilities, so ask for examples of risk mitigation. How they cope with adversity can tell you a lot. What happens when deadlines are missed or there are delays in delivering code to testers? Do they have the experience and maturity to gracefully deal with the unexpected and maintain a pragmatic attitude? These are questions you want answers to now, not six months into a project.
Find out how they encourage continuous growth in their employees. Testers and developers should be learning and evolving all the time. You want a partner that understands the importance of continuously enhancing their team’s skillset.
Treating your outsourcing partner as an extension of your company is going to garner the best results, and that kind of collaboration is built upon shared goals. Take the time to talk about what a successful partnership would look like to you and find out what they would consider a success. This should give you some real insight into how collaborative and innovative your prospective partner is.
Refining Processes and Sharing Strategy
You should always encourage and implement refinements to your processes. That means gathering feedback from the teams to identify exactly what worked and what didn’t. Ask what the major challenges were and invite recommendations on how to enhance performance. Use those to draw up a targeted list of two or three things that you want to improve on and create a shared action plan, so everyone is tied into meeting goals that will benefit overall project success.
Tools can offset a lot of tedious manual tasks. Explore how tools and automation might enhance individual productivity. Look for opportunities to expedite activities like data setup, environment management, virtualization — any prerequisites to testing where you can reduce some of the burden on the test team. Encourage that mindset, so testers are always looking for ways to improve process efficiency. Challenging teams to define solutions for consistency of infrastructure can deliver real benefits.
Encourage testers to think creatively and look to your outsourced partner for suggestions on how to solve problems. Build their confidence, give them responsibility and insight into the decision-making process about how and where to test. Be bold and try different testing approaches.
If your overall strategic goals are shared, everyone should be pitching in with ideas on how to meet them. To ensure that these steps are delivering concrete benefits, you must set up the right metrics and analyze the team’s contribution.
Employing the Right Tools
Tools are going to play an important role in your partnership and so you need to carefully consider what you want to use and make sure that you and your partner have the necessary expertise.
There are tools that help with team communication and testing environment infrastructure. Things like Slack, Skype, Google Drive, and Confluence allow you to communicate more effectively within the team. They make it easier to share your knowledge, and exchange questions and answers. Other tools, like BrowserStack, Chef, Docker, Puppet, can supplement the test environment creation, helping you to deliver more predictable results and set baselines. Then there are continuous integration and continuous delivery tool sets, like Jenkins and XebiaLabs, that handle deployment.
Think about what traceability tools you might use. How do you handle user stories, map tasks and burn downs, and track defects? What about reporting and debugging? Consider data management and the importance of having the right test data. Don’t forget security and performance. Agreeing on the right tools and leveraging them for maximum advantage will contribute heavily to the overall success of your project.
About the Author
Mush Honda is Vice President of Testing for KMS Technology, a provider of IT services across the software development lifecycle with offices in Atlanta, GA and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.