A couple of days ago, a white paper on outsourcing software testing dropped into my inbox. I was interested to read it, because we do offer a ‘QA only’ service – although most of our clients choose to use Future Processing for software development as well as testing. Sadly I found that I could not agree with the main argument of the paper – which incidentally is written by an offshore software testing company. The paper suggests that choosing separate suppliers to develop and test your software is the best approach. In my opinion both using the same company to develop and test your software and choosing separate ones both work and both deliver good results.
What’s more, the paper suggests that a company that has developed a piece of software has a vested interest in not finding fault with it, consequently, its testing will be of lower quality. This is blatantly not true. Rather, a company that has developed software will want it to work smoothly and therefore be as keen as a testing-only company to pick up bugs and other errors.
At Future Processing we view quality assurance to be as important as the development itself and consequently we never put less experienced engineers on our testing teams and the testing jobs have as much cachet in our company as the development ones. This is an important point. Companies choosing outsourcers should look thoroughly into their QA processes to check they are robust enough. You should be offered dedicated programmers and testers, not the same people doing both functions on your project.
If the QA process is not robust, then it is time to separate the testing and development sides of your project and choose another outsourcer for QA. This isn’t to belittle the development company though, they may be fantastic programmers, just not great testers. Similarly some organisations are better at QA than development. For companies that develop software in-house, choosing an outsourcer to test it has many benefits too. Companies, like Future Processing, that offer this service can ensure a high degree of software testing expertise and professionalism. The team that works on your project will be trained QA experts and are likely to do a better job than the hybrid development-testing team you have.
I think you need to find the approach that fits your project and your suppliers’ strengths best. In my experience QA only contracts work as well as combined development-testing contracts and so can be worth trying to see how they suit your organisation, but I wouldn’t say they are the best approach for everyone.