Test Automation Outsourcing: A Roadmap to a Successful Vendor Partnership

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Test Automation Outsourcing: A Roadmap to a Successful Vendor Partnership

Choosing competent test automation outsourcing vendors, preparing your organization for long-term cooperation, and establishing a methodical vendor management process.

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When the scale of your development project increases, manual testing efforts may fail to cover all of your quality assurance needs. To improve software quality management and increase QA process efficiency, consider turning to test automation and outsource the whole function to a specialized vendor.

With 18 years of experience in test automation and QA outsourcing to help you choose an optimal test automaton vendor, prepare your organization for a long-term cooperation, and establish a structured vendor management process. For that, we created a test automation outsourcing roadmap for you to stick to throughout the collaboration.

Prepare Internal Workflows and Staff

Align and Document the Existing QA Process

Test automation cannot deliver promised value when applied to a project with an initially misaligned QA process. So, before turning to a test automation vendor, invest time in harmonizing and documenting the existing QA process. Also, it is important to have test design and test execution activities documented as vendors strongly rely on the input from a manual QA team. Comprehensive QA documentation will help a future vendor get the grasp of the project scope and specifics faster.

Provide a Dedicated Point of Contact

Appoint a senior-level QA professional from an internal QA team or a TCoE to manage a vendor: assess vendor competencies, set up vendor performance management processes, and track the fulfillment and timeliness of SLA obligations.

Select an Optimal Vendor

To make sure that your test automation needs are met in the long run, choose a QA outsourcing provider that is able to:

  • Design a thought-out test automation strategy

A vendor should design a test automation strategy in line with the general QA strategy and tailor it to the specifics of your application and project processes. In the strategy, the vendor needs to state the scope of test automation; a ratio between automated and manual, API and UI-level testing; and an appropriate test automation framework.

  • Design, develop and maintain a flexible test automation architecture

A test automation vendor should design a flexible test automation architecture and tailor it to the specifics of yours. A properly designed test automation architecture facilitates test script maintenance in case of an application’s UI and functionality changes. It also enables test script reuse, leading to substantial cost savings and increasing test process efficiency.

  • Advise in choosing an optimal test automation framework

Choose a QA outsourcing vendor that has experience with popular automation frameworks and can recommend a framework that fits the needs of your project. In case you have a suit of legacy test scripts that are difficult to maintain, for instance, QTP-based, make sure that your vendor is ready to assist you in migrating them to the new framework.

  • Support automation at both UI and API levels

Increasing the share of API testing as opposed to UI testing helps improve testing speed, which is of particular value for projects having time constraints. Therefore, search for a vendor that can run automated tests at both UI and API levels and distribute testing efforts between them in an optimal.

  • Automate non-functional testing types

As your application evolves, you are likely to need new types of testing to become automated, for instance, performance testing. Therefore, choose a vendor proficient in automating both functional and non-functional testing types.

Agree On an Optimal Approach to Horizontal Collaboration

Together with a vendor, come up with a convenient to organizing horizontal collaboration. In ScienceSoft, we find the following approach to be effective:

Your organization

Aspect of collaboration

Test automation vendor


Strategic alignment, long-term prioritization


Contract manager

SLA adjustments, KPI reviews, contract amendments

Account manager

Project manager

Prioritization and scheduling of QA activities, risk management, process adjustments

Test automation manager

Business analysis, development, manual QA teams

Daily collaboration

Test automation team

Establish a Vendor Performance Management Process

Once you have selected the right vendor, make sure that their performance remains stably high. For that, you may take up the following practices:

  • Agree on the service level and performance metrics early on

Together with a vendor, work out a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) before the outsourcing relationship starts for a vendor to understand their responsibilities. The SLA should not only state the expected service level but also describe the KPIs by which the service will be measured. Developing appropriate performance metrics, you should make sure that they do not penalize the vendor for delays caused by your teams, for instance, a test environment provisioned later than required.

  • Mitigate possible risks of test automation outsourcing 

A range of technical and resource-related risks can influence your cooperation with a test automation vendor, causing extra costs and delays in service delivery. Therefore, identify possible risks at the start of work with a test automation vendor. For identified risks, develop mitigation and contingency strategies. For instance, if there is a chance of a fluctuating project load, agree with the vendor on the possibility of flexible resource allocation within the predefined limits and state the minimum and maximum project load in the SLA.

  • Ensure that SLA terms are followed and met

Establish vendor performance monitoring procedures and have an appointed senior QA professional regularly execute them and review test result reports. To get the grasp of the vendor performance dynamics, pay attention to the combination of such metrics as test coverage and cost per automated test – the latter should decrease with time due to a test script reuse enabled by the flexible test automation architecture.

Accelerate Releases and Increase Test Coverage

Test automation outsourcing may be an effort-intensive undertaking. With the above guidelines, you can make the first steps towards long-term, prolific collaboration with your vendor – speed up the transition phase, establish an effective horizontal communication, and lay the basis of a mature vendor management.

qa outsourcing, test automation, test automation tools

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