Choosing a Software QA Partner
According to a recent Gartner report “Top Priorities for IT Leadership Vision 2021”, 72% of CIO’s plan to maintain or increase the proportion of IT outsourced to third party providers.
Successfully outsourcing your software QA and software testing has many advantages. The services of an independent provider, who is not directly involved in your development, helps with early detection of defects, finding a greater number of bugs, improving software quality, increasing confidence in your software and reducing development costs.
Involving a QA partner at every stage of your software development lifecycle (SDLC), together with implementing a QA framework at the start of your development project can significantly reduce total costs of development and yield substantial improvements in quality and speed up time to market.
As with any outsourcing decision, choosing the wrong partner for your software QA or software testing can result in costly mistakes in terms of time, money, and reputation. Choosing the right partner, can yield tremendous benefits, even more so if you form a long-term strategic partnership.
The benefits arising from a successful partnership include the following:
- Reduced risk and acquisition costs – the costs and risks associated with sourcing and agreeing a new deal with a supplier are not insignificant. Having a long-term partnership with a trusted supplier, minimizes these costs and reduces the risk associated with changing suppliers.
- Improved communication – as partners work together over time, they get to know each other’s preferences and requirements and grow their mutual understanding of each other’s businesses, all leading to improved communication and closer working relationships.
- Improved planning, certainty, and stability – planning is easier and more certain when you have long term agreements with key partners. Financial projections are more likely to be correct when contracts are in place for the duration of the projection period.
- Improved service delivery – over time, your partner and their team will gain a much stronger understanding of your business, your team, and your project needs. This allows for continuous improvement of the services they deliver.
- Increased flexibility – as partners work together for a longer period their interests become more closely aligned. This provides for greater flexibility in delivery and in the business relationship.
- Reduced management costs – there are hidden costs associated with every outsourcing partnership, such as the time required to manage the project, deal with cultural differences, and grow the partner relationship. Other costs include the provision and maintenance of the technology and test environments, required for testing. Having one long term partner for these activities, provides obvious potential to reduce these costs during the SDLC.
Before selecting a QA partner, be very clear on your requirements / objectives and exactly what it is you want to outsource. For example, is your objective to strategically improve your QA function or to have a suite of software tests created and run for a specific development project?
QA Partnership Selection Questions
The responses to questions such as those listed below, will yield valuable information to help with your choice of QA partner.
- How long has the prospective partner been in the software testing business?
- Do they specialise in software QA or provide it as an add on service?
- Do they provide customised services and solutions, or a one-size fits all model?
- Do they have supportive client references?
- Do they have long term and returning clients?
- Are they a partner you can trust, to deliver what they say they will deliver in the way they say they will deliver it?
- Have they got the required technical knowledge and experience for your environment and QA requirements?
- Do they keep up to date with the latest software testing tools, QA methodologies and industry trends?
- Will they do all the work themselves, or subcontract part of it?
- What are the strengths and abilities of the Managers, QA consultants and Software Testers on their team?
- What are the technical capabilities, knowledge and experience levels of their team members?
- What are the communication skills of the people you will be dealing with in the partner company?
- Do they have domain knowledge and experience in your industry?
- Can they scale to meet your changing resource requirements?
- Do they offer value and a strong ROI to your business?
- What are their payment terms?
- Will the partner operate in your time zone / business hours?
- Is there a cultural fit between your business and your partner? Do you do things in a similar or complementary way?
- Are their values aligned with your personal, company, department and project values?
- Will you enjoy doing business with them?
- Are there any potential PR pitfalls from working with this partner, e.g., in relation to ethical sourcing policies, employee relations, diversity in the workplace or green / environmental issues?
- Will they operate in your best interest, e.g., when reducing testing time and QA budgets are the best options for your business or project?
- Have they data protection procedures in place, to protect your data and data belonging to your clients or customers?
- Will your intellectual property be protected when working with this partner?
- Do they provide QA leadership to their employees, clients and the industry in general?
- Will they provide you with a detailed Statement of Work or Service Level Agreement?
- How responsive will they be if your requirements change mid project?
- What type and frequency of project reporting do they provide?
An organization’s ability to respond to changing demands, depends on collaboration with business partners and stakeholders that are willing to be flexible and embrace an agile mindset. It is more intelligent to approach these partnerships with a cost optimization attitude, rather than a cost cutting one.
As technology is rapidly evolving so to is the demand for digital skills. Choosing a QA partner that invests in keeping their teams up to date with innovative technologies will maximize their value to the business and ensure IT leaders and their teams evolve rather than revolve.
Established in 2005, CelticQA Solutions are trusted Software QA partners providing IT leaders and their teams with QA Leadership, IV&V services, Software Testing and QA Automation. Our focus is on building quality into the development life cycle, ensuring our clients have the best processes for quality planning, quality governance, quality control and continuous improvement.
– written by Fergal Crawley Snr Security and Software QA Engineer.