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Software Development

Five things you should know about crowd testing

date: 10 January 2014
reading time: 9 min

Throughout last year the concept of crowd testing in software development began to grow in popularity with companies like Google, Amazon and eBay. Advocates point to the speed of it as well as the low cost.

Collaboration is often considered to be a great way to generate creative ideas, as the collective input of many individuals can lead to more innovative solutions.

However, when it comes to testing, a highly specialised and complex task, this approach can lead to numerous issues.

What are crowdsourced testing services?

Crowdsourced testing, often termed “crowd testing,” is an efficient, budget-friendly strategy that involves sending out tests to a diverse group of people globally.

This isn’t just about cutting costs; it’s an effective way to get feedback from a broad spectrum of users, ensuring the software works well on various devices and systems. It’s especially handy when there’s a test that can’t be fully automated or when there’s a sudden need to ramp up testing efforts.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to say goodbye to in-house QA teams. These professionals have a solid grasp of the product, aligned with the company’s vision. But sometimes, they might not catch all the quirky bugs that could pop up in different environments – that’s where crowd testing shines.

It’s all coordinated by crowdsourced testing companies, who make sure the right mix of people is testing the software, matching the company’s specific needs.

The power of the crowd extends to specialised testing areas. In functional testing, the experts scrutinise your software against your business requirements, looking for bugs.

Usability testing is a real-world investigation into user-friendliness, with immediate feedback from a diverse user base. For localisation testing, native speakers from your target market can best assess language accuracy and cultural appropriateness.

Continuous testing Market 2020-2027
Continuous testing Market 2020-2027

Quantifiable benefits of employing crowd testing in your QA strategy

Integrating crowd testing into a QA strategy presents several tangible advantages. One of the benefits is that it can speed up the overall process. By having multiple testers examine different aspects of the product concurrently, the testing duration is reduced.

Additionally, parallel testing ensures hardware diversity since the product is checked on various devices, including those that might not be immediately accessible to the company.

In terms of testing cost, crowd testing services are economical, especially for organisations with limited QA teams, as it means that you don’t have to hire additional permanent staff. This approach allows in-house teams to focus on complex issues while crowdsourced testers handle simpler tasks, efficiently utilising human resources.

Also, crowd testing exposes products to real-world testing conditions, which are not replicable in lab settings and, therefore, help to identify potential blind spots.

The technique also provides unbiased and diverse viewpoints throughout the development process, which is valuable for recognising overlooked issues. It is a versatile method that helps handle increased testing demands during peak times or multiple project phases.

Comparing traditional QA vs Crowdsourced testing: what makes the latter stand out?

When it comes to testing, crowdsourced process has some advantages over traditional QA. Firstly, it offers great flexibility by providing access to testers around the clock, which is especially useful when working with tight deadlines or during off-hours.

In addition, crowdsourced testing brings a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and perspectives together to offer valuable insights that may not be available with an in-house team. Thanks to its global reach, this approach can uncover bugs that only appear in specific environments or on certain devices.

It can also be a real money-saver, especially when you have tests that cannot be automated or when you need to increase your testing efforts quickly. It’s also essential to keep in mind the importance of usability testing – one of the specialisations we mentioned before.

With crowdsourcing, you can have real people who have never used your product before trying it out, which can be invaluable for assessing its user-friendliness.

Find out more about the different testing services (and types of testing) tailored to your needs:

How to set up your crowd software testing?

When it comes to testing your software, it’s important first to establish your goals and make a plan. Identify what you want to test, the bugs you’re looking for, and the type of feedback you need from professional testers. Once you’ve done that, choose a crowd testing platform that suits your project requirements and budget, such as Global App Testing, Test IO or Crowdsprint.

After you’ve created a plan and selected a platform, you’ll need to bring in skilled testers. You can either use the platform’s own group of experts or gather your team. But here’s a crucial part: you must give them crystal-clear instructions.

Lay out what they should watch out for, how they should go about it, and the kind of feedback you’re looking for. Keep a close eye on the whole process to make sure they stick to the script and everything’s on track.

Once you finish testing, it’s important to carefully review the results and identify any bugs or issues that may have arisen during the process. This information can help you improve your software and make it more reliable.

It’s also a good idea to touch base with your team and express your gratitude for their hard work. Providing feedback and acknowledging their contributions can help foster a strong and effective collaboration for future projects.

Top 5 bugbears (or points to think long and hard on) about crowd testing

Crowd testing is an innovative and useful approach, particularly beneficial for mobile applications and website testing. However, it comes with its own set of challenges that require serious consideration.

#1 Trust and attitude towards crowd testing companies

Well-functioning development and testing teams should work together towards the same goal in an atmosphere of trust and mutual support. Most IT projects, particularly agile ones, will fail without this atmosphere. It takes time to build trust, and employing different random testers through a crowd approach does not allow for this trust to be built.

#2 Communication

Hand in hand with trust goes communication. If communication around expectations, parameters, and feedback is unclear, successful QA is difficult to achieve.

There are multiple communication layers, increasing the chances of losing key messages or points as developers relay information to the project manager, who then passes it on to the testing company, who further emails testers.

#3 Creating a silo

The crowdsourced testing approach may also be considered too siloed for some. Crowd testers are often too far removed from developers to effectively communicate feedback.

So how can the development team learn from its mistakes, understand them and improve? Without a QA team’s close and regular input, developers risk repeating the same mistakes.

Worse still, without that personal, integrated relationship with the testers, perhaps the developers will eventually care less about the quality of their code as faceless crowd checks or “judges” their work.

#4 Understanding the context

In my experience, QAs working on a particular piece of software must have a thorough understanding of the project and its aims to make sensible decisions.

While this understanding doesn’t take too long with small projects, some I have worked on can take months to understand fully. With only a few days to complete all testing, it is unlikely that crowd testers can fully grasp the software’s objectives and nuances.

#5 Quality of the software itself

Crowd testing claims to provide feedback on hundreds of issues within just two days. While this is much faster than what the average QA team can deliver, the sheer number of issues that are detected raises some concerning questions about the software that was sent to the crowd testers.

How can there be so many issues? This suggests that the development and testing process is inadequate. Poor-quality software indicates that the developers and project managers working on the software may not be prioritising the quality of their work.

It is possible that there may be some underlying issues within the company that simply outsourcing the software testing to crowdsourced testers will not solve.

How to mitigate potential pitfalls in your crowd testing journey?

Successfully navigating the intricacies of crowdsourced testing requires a keen eye for potential pitfalls and a plan to overcome them. Read on to learn about the effective strategies to help you tackle the challenges.

  1. Security Concerns: Cyber resiliance is a critical concern when it comes to protecting your systems and testing your applications. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by implementing non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality contracts, and other measures to restrict access to sensitive information and ensure it remains protected.

  2. Risk Management: Crowdsourced testing services can be risky if the processes are poorly designed or executed. This may lead to subpar submissions or confusion about the project’s objectives. To avoid these issues, establish a detailed process for the initiative, emphasising proper planning, execution, and management. If you want to find out more, read about information security risk assessment.

  3. Addressing Biases and Skill Gaps: The nature of crowd testing can lead to biases and skill gaps, which may affect outcomes. Proactive planning, robust processes, and diligent management can address these challenges.

  4. Pilot Testing: Before fully integrating crowd testing service, consider conducting a pilot test to detect and address potential issues on a smaller scale. This approach helps mitigate risks that could affect the end product or its users.

  5. Choosing the Right Crowd Testers: The selection of testers is critical. It’s important to understand the criteria used in their selection and to assess their expertise and experience to ensure they meet the project’s requirements.

  6. Constant Control and Monitoring: To achieve successful outcomes, continuous oversight and monitoring of testers’ activities is crucial throughout the test cycles.

Embracing the power of the crowd in quality assurance

Crowdsourced QA testing strikes a unique balance in the world of product evaluation. Imagine extending the scope beyond your in-house team to include a global network of testers.

This isn’t just about numbers; it’s about enriching the testing process with diverse insights, making the bug-spotting game incredibly thorough.

This scale not only broadens test coverage but also brings a plethora of devices and operating systems into play, all without the hefty overhead costs. The financial aspect is just as appealing – you invest in more testers only when there’s a real need, keeping things cost-effective.

So, why not turn testing from a chore into an adventure? Embrace the crowd and watch your software evolve, not just in functionality but in global appeal and user satisfaction.

However, remain aware of potential pitfalls and take necessary precautions to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the testing results.

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