In the past, outsourcing was used only as a technique to cut costs, but it has now become an effective option for strategic management. When businesses decide to outsource, it is usually for any or all of the following reasons: to lower costs, redirect energy, or to efficiently make use of technology, labor and resources. The overall aim of outsourcing in these cases is to better achieve business objectives by raising the quality of operations.
A prime example of using outsourcing for strategic management is quality assurance (QA) and testing. When quality assurance services are outsourced, companies can improve the quality of their production applications, reduce business risks, and improve upon current testing processes. To successfully complete the outsourcing process, companies rely on outsourcing partners who typically have both offshore and onsite capabilities.
When you decide to outsource quality assurance and test automation, there are several elements to consider. According to a whitepaper by AppLabs, the following 10 considerations are key to the outsourcing process.
- Engagement models: One of the most important decisions to make when developing an outsourcing plan is selecting an engagement model. Several factors go into this consideration, including “aspects of international business strategy, selecting the geographical location, understanding the landscape and deciding on the outsourcing strategy.” The main aspect of this decision is whether you will implement incremental outsourcing or total outsourcing. Incremental outsourcing allows you to mitigate your risk by dividing work into smaller, more manageable projects. Total outsourcing involves outsourcing multiple projects and programs to a service provider. Typical models are 20-30 percent onsite to 70-80 percent offsite.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs): SLAs should describe in detail the level of service an outsourcing vendor will provide. Types of SLAs to be considered include on-time delivery, client satisfaction, effectiveness, volume of work, sensitivity, and system downtime and availability. It can also be a good idea to make sure that SLAs are tied to the contract on a risk/reward basis.
- Mobilization: When you have signed a contract, the first thing to happen will be a period of mobilization. This includes “setting up communication protocol, defining work breakdown structure, sharing standard templates, building a test strategy and more.” Some of the central elements of mobilization include people, knowledge acquisition, infrastructure, and processes.
- Integration: Independent QA and testing are rapidly becoming the standard because it provides objectivity and thoroughness. Your testing provider should understand the challenges that can arise when working with multiple vendors across different geographies— and be able to develop interfaces and best practices to ensure success.
- Communication: One of the main benefits of having a reliable outsourcing partner is that they provide “seamless communication between the client and their stakeholders.” Communication has long been identified as a key obstacle in outsourcing, but providers can maintain open channels and effective points of contact. Factors such as issue resolution, escalation, and reporting should be part of an effective communication model.
- Flexibility and scalability: QA and outsourcing agreements require flexibility and scalability to ensure an effective response to any fluctuations that arise in scope or timescales. This means that your outsourcing provider should have appropriately sized infrastructure and resources for your specific needs.
- Quality improvement: It is important that quality is significantly improved through outsourcing. To achieve this, outsourcing providers should assess testing capabilities, identify gaps in test processes and implement positive changes.
- Configuration and change management: Another vital aspect of QA and testing outsourcing providers is that they maintain a “comprehensive change and configuration management system.”
- Intellectual property (IP) protection and security: IP protections are a key consideration for outsourcing plans as well. All personally identifiable information IPII should be protected. Quality outsourcing partners have security standards in place so that unauthorized access and misuse can be prevented. These standards include nondisclosure agreements, IP protection, and employee confidentiality contracts. Outsourcing facilities have the ability to “prevent loss or accidental release of data or proprietary functionality,” which means that they should be able to restore all relevant services.
Contact GlowTouch today to learn more about how we can help you successfully outsource both quality assurance and testing services. We can be the partner you are searching for!