The Seven Samurai of Outsourcing and Why They Make Sense
Why outsource anything be it a service or production? Why not keep every aspect of the business in house? Two hundred years ago, that approach probably made sense. One hundred years ago you could make an argument for it, but the business logic was becoming less persuasive as advances in communication, transportation and production began to take hold. Today, in the modern economy, globalization and technological advancements have made outsourcing a strategic imperative for all businesses. One question on every CEO’s, VP’s, or even a Manager’s plate with skin in the game “What need or challenge to our business can be better handled through outsourcing?”
In today’s integrated economy, the on-going digital transformation has highlighted the importance of keeping abreast of the competition. Competitive forces and the ability of a company to react are partly a function of its organizational structure. A company that is lean and able to quickly react to market place dynamics has better chances of surviving and thriving. This is especially true for ISV’s and businesses that rely on software or software development, where killer apps can appear out of nowhere, transcending borders and cultures at the click of a mouse.
How does a company stay lean and mean in the 21st century? By focusing on their core competency(s) and by accessing the best talent it can wherever that may be! In this sense, outsourcing is the best option when it comes to addressing business needs that fall outside the scope of one’s area of expertise. Outsourcing can infuse expertise and knowledge from specialists who bring fresh perspective and insights through myriad projects across diverse industries and companies, as well as several other benefits.
So what are the practical aspects of outsourcing that should be kept in mind when considering it as a business strategy? Through our 11+ years of providing QA & testing services, we’ve compiled our list of the “Seven Samurai of Outsourcing” to help you understand why it makes sense.
1. It’s All About Time
A key factor for success in the world of software is the time needed to take an idea from conception to a working product. Speed is paramount, not only for possible first-mover advantages, but as a means to stay on budget and to react to evolving market conditions.
Hiring a new employee can be time-consuming and a distraction for many people in an organization. This can be especially acute when looking for a new hire in a competitive market with competitors that are constantly looking for their own talent. Identifying prospects, reaching out, weeding out the “no go’s”, organizing interviews, and so forth.
Outsourcing or augmenting QA is a proven path to gain skilled professionals and works by helping get a project off the ground, or finished, much faster than would be possible by organically growing a team in-house. Reduce your risks in hiring QA by utilizing a firm that specializes in QA and has hired and worked with hundreds of QA specialists over the years .
2. Focus, Focus, Focus
Many small or start up ISV’s have their development team be responsible for QA. So it’s not uncommon for an in-house team to be juggling many tasks simultaneously, with QA being relegated to an ad hoc effort.
In this case, outsourcing software QA can deliver “geometric” ROI benefits, because the development team can keep focus on what matters most (product development), while the QA team brings ready expertise and can deliver what they specialize in (product quality).
Outsourcing allows for management to be as involved as needed. From having the outsourced team fully integrated with the in-house team and sharing daily meetings, code reviews, and more.
3. Show Me the Money
Outsourcing reduces costs across the board, such as streamlining the recruiting process, employing the right level of manpower to get meet schedules, following more effective QA practices, and also in terms of the better rates you may be able to find if your company engages with a partner that offers offshore options.
A common challenge facing many small development companies is moving from 100% manual regression to incorporate some level of automation. There is almost never a positive ROI for an in-house approach. The time, resources, and effort to learn automation scripting, master the tools, figure out what and what not to automate, and then actually run the automation and deal with script errors due to new functionality or features generally overwhelms any budgets and potential cost savings. On the other hand, when outsourcing to a QA firm with automation expertise, the ROI typically just pivots on how long it takes for the QA firm to learn and understand the product to be automated. Generally, the more experience the better at estimating the ramp up time.
4. Structured QA – Product Quality That Inspires Confidence
Who doesn’t want their software quality to be better? The path to consistent software quality improvement begins with structured QA. You can’t become an Olympic track star without a structured training program and you can’t achieve Olympic level quality software without structured QA. Structured QA provides the foundation for quality. Test cases, test management, automation, metrics measurement and analysis, and judicious application of best practices all contribute to a lasting infrastructure for delivering high quality software.
If you need to build a structured QA program in a timely and efficient manner, consider outsourcing to experts who have the experience. It will greatly improve the odds of success. You don’t have time to make mistakes.
5. Independent 3rd Party Validation
The combination of validation and verification in the quality assurance process is important if you want to avoid releasing a product that isn’t quite ready for prime-time. Well-built software that doesn’t meet customer needs will require time-consuming redesign. Software that addresses end-user requirements but is riddled with code inefficiencies, defects, performance bottlenecks and security weaknesses will require the same.
3rd party validation services can supplement or augment an existing team in both specialized skills and manpower. More importantly, it can serve as the last line of QA defense. Rather than have end users complain and call technical support as they find and report defects, having a 3rd party conduct independent acceptance testing can give you piece of mind. The next time you release your software, have confidence rather than hope.
6. Flexible Engagement Models
You have a short-term project, and you need to hire a new developer(s) to finish it on time. What do you do when the project ends? Or you need to develop a product based on new technology for which you have no in-house experience. Will you hire a whole team to complete the project?
In these cases, and many others, outsourcing to supplement or augment the existing staff can be a win-win solution. Over the last 15-20 years, the hurdles to engage 3rd parties for targeted services have become lower and lower. The internet dramatically facilitates the time and effort required for initial searches and subsequent due diligence. Outsourcing can offer custom engagement models under straightforward contract terms and conditions at competitive pricing.
7. Managing Risk
Growing an in-house team does not come free. Many obligations come with new hires, and a lot could go wrong. Keeping an employee happy and productive for any length of time requires time, effort and resources (team-building activities, performance assessments, etc.).
Outsourcing with a good technology partner that can be generally independent and able to provide software testing unassisted, takes that burden away by assuming many of those risks and leaving you free to focus on other core aspects of the business.
A lot has changed since the Agile Manifesto was developed back in 2001. Outsourcing, once shunned due to gaps in culture and distance, can now become a strategic advantage as communication and knowledge barriers are struck down by globalization and a plethora of collaboration tools enabling virtual teams to work closely together. Outsourcing can help you focus on your core, save time and money, and access talent around the world while bringing your products to market faster. As software QA specialists, XBOSoft has been serving clients for over 11 years in doing just that.