The Business Case for Startups to Outsource Software Development

Skype, Klout, GitHub, Basecamp, MySQL are just a few examples of startups who successfully outsourced their software development and grew to become billion dollar organizations. Why did they follow this path, can your startup go the same way?

“Alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Hellen Keller

With technological advancements and the rise of digitization, the world has become smaller and increasingly interconnected. Add new emerging markets and the rise of a skilled workforce and the case for companies looking to outsource software development becomes quite strong. There has been over a period of time a lot of discussion over whether a startup should outsource software development – some say that it is hard to find reliable vendors. Other say managing timelines and an offshore team poses as a challenge. Though these concerns are not unfounded it is also true that once you find the right outsourcing partner there are some clear benefits to be had.

Startups are always walking a tightrope. With limited resources, both financial and human, it does make sense to focus on the core business and outsource the rest. It is also a reality that the software product development environment is in a constant state of flux. The ‘it’ technology of yesterday could be no longer viable for the product that you are trying to create. Platform demands keep changing. Development methodologies evolve… Startups doing product development in-house may get dragged into the many operational aspects of the development and the other aspects of building the business such as identifying markets, business opportunities or revenue sources can get lost.

Let’s face it, the proof of the pudding for a startup will lie in the end product. And who makes a great product? A crack team of technical professionals. It’s by no means certain that a startup will be able to find, hire, and retain such top talent – the founders apart, of course.

So, the fundamental grounds for startups to outsource their software development is apparent. What are the actual benefits that they can reap from doing so though?

  1. Lower Development Costs:
    Hiring a team of experts can cost quite a pretty penny. Plus, the buck doesn’t stop with hiring an in-house team. You also have to spend some time investing in the right infrastructure, building processes and delivery methodologies and in training. By outsourcing, a startup can almost reduce its development cost by half since they do not need to incur any of these expenses.Even in the rank and file developers, cost advantages can accrue. Labour arbitrage has traditionally been one of the accepted advantages of outsourcing. Research from Aberdeen Group shows that outsourcing software development activities cost approximately “30- 65% less than in-house development initiatives.”While being face to face with your developers seems good, it is no longer a necessity. With mobile and internet technology evolving at the pace it is, doing business with anyone across the globe has become convenient. Having geographically distributed software teams is now par for the course anyway. Scrums, meetings to discuss product features, design, or other inquiries, can easily be done using collaboration tools or video conferencing.
  2. Access to Technology Experts:
    It is getting increasingly common to get horses for courses, the right expert for a specific task, during the development process. Perhaps among of the greatest advantages of outsourcing for a startup is the kind of access they can gain to an array of technology experts. Working with an established outsourcing organization gives you access to highly skilled technology experts whose contribution would help in developing a stronger, feature-rich and robust software product. These experts can also help in identifying ways to make the product better, and assess if the product can be developed in other cost effective ways. The advantage here is that the technology expert can be brought in for a specified period of time to perform a particular task without any long term commitment and the associated costs.
  3. Team Scaling:
    While the thought of an in-house development team sounds enticing, the reality is this restricting when startups need to ramp up teams or scale down because of the demands of the business. Hiring trained developers is not easy and is time-consuming and overstaffing is costly. Outsourcing gives startups the flexibility to add resources or reduce them according to the speed of development, project demands, and time-to-market amongst other considerations.
  4. Partner for Growth:
    There are many outsourcing companies that instead of a pure fee-based model, are willing opt for working on more innovative partnership models. Many are willing to offer their services for a stake in the company. The money saved can be used for other activities such as marketing and sales. This model works to the advantage of the startup as their outsourcing vendors become invested in the success of the company and partners in their progress. All the typical concerns that startups looking to outsource harbor, such as commitment, product quality, delivery timelines, communication etc. get resolved easily with this level of partnership.

All this, of course, presupposes that the outsourcing company will provide timely delivery of service, is resourceful in identifying new solutions and executing them expertly, and has deep technical implementation skills. Since no two development companies are the same, look for one who shares your vision and is willing to work with you as a partner. A great software product then becomes a natural consequence of this partnership.

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Top 5 Things CEOs Look For When Choosing a Technology Partner

CEOs are driven by efficiency and progress. They want to ensure their company is not missing out on opportunities that can streamline their processes and impact the bottom-line. With technology being ubiquitous, CEOs strive to leverage new-age methods to boost productivity, improve efficiency, and most importantly, respond to the needs of their customers. Hence, the need to choose a technology partner that works hand-to-hand with them towards their business goals.

CEOs prefer a technology partner who can fit into the company culture and add value. They want a technology partner who is in it for the long-term. They worry that a wrong choice can seriously set them back – literally as well as figuratively. That’s why CEOs spend so many cycles thoroughly evaluating technology partners before on-boarding them.

CEOs have a long list of standards to consider in the quest for the right technology partner. If you are aspiring to be a top company’s technology partner, you might ask yourself—just how will you position yourself as the right partner for any company?

To my mind, these are the top 5 things that CEOs look for when choosing a technology partner

Expertise
Your expertise and experience are the keys to your success. It’s not enough to have aggressive sales folks that talk the talk or to have attractive promotional offers. CEOs will usually prioritize capabilities over cost. You need to communicate that you understand how your technology expertise fits into their needs and how you and your approach are going to help the company achieve their goals. You need to demonstrate your experience, through client lists, testimonials, and case studies. A portfolio of the appropriate projects will help.

People
CEOs are often seeking to extend their own engineering capabilities while engaging a technology partner. This is where your people will have to play at the same level as their internal engineering team. CEOs on this quest, thus prefer technology partners who have a pool of qualified, well-trained technical people with the personal experience, and the skills to match. The strong technical experience of your resources increases your chances of being selected, as CEOs know they can rely on them for delivery and quality.

Predictability
Despite their risk-taking public persona, in this área at-least, CEOs are extremely risk averse people. They prefer a situation where they know what they are getting into, and dearly want to have the faith that what has been committed to them will get delivered – on time, in budget, and at the desired quality level. They will appreciate whatever you can do to create this aura of predictability. You may do this through a strong contract, well-defined processes, examples of the reports you provide your clients, and a believable promise of transparent visibility into what is going on at your end once the development kicks off.

A True Partnership
CEOs find partners who seek mutual benefit. The winning approach is one where it’s not just the technology company but the client that benefits too. From the outset, the business partnership should be more than a “money in, service rendered” relationship. Rather than just providing the bare minimum, show how you are ready to go above and beyond. Make them sure that you are willing to make their problems your own, and that you are willing to do what it takes to help them get ahead. Convince them that you are willing to take initiative, innovate, demonstrate ownership, in short, everything you would do for your own business.

Readiness for the Long Haul
As I have mentioned, this is an area where CEOs prefer not to experiment. So, if they have identified a company that has the ability to deliver to their expectations, they will likely want to form a long-term partnership. The onus is on you to drive home the point through your words, and even more than that, with your actions, that you are also in it for the long haul. Study their mission and vision and find a way to tie that into your company’s own goals. This will demonstrate your commitment and provide true value-add, rather than just a generic service provider. These CEOs want someone who has already understood the business. So even if the current opportunity is a short-term one, make sure you position your company as a potential long-term technology partner. Be the invaluable asset to CEOs. Be the calling card they won’t throw away.

CEOs have a tough job at the best of times. There are lots of tough choices to be made, and nowhere to pass the buck to when one of those choices go wrong. In this scenario when a pressing need to engage a technology business partner presents itself if you can help the CEO make the right choice, and then to prove that the decision was the right one – both you and your client stand to gain!

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How Software Development Has Transformed In Front Of My Eyes?

“Software development is technical activity conducted by human beings.” Niklaus Wirth

It’s been about 30 years since I started my career as a Software Developer and while I don’t wear my coders hat as often as I like, I still think of myself as a developer. In my conversations with the many smart developers at ThinkSys I can’t escape the feeling though that software development now is a completely different species from what it was when veterans like me started out, and this transformation has particularly accelerated in the last few years. Indulge me as I look back at what has changed – some of this may resonate with you too!

First, though, what’s driving this change? There’s not far to look – a combination of the Cloud, Internet, and Mobility is the primary factor. This combination has changed the way people use software, as has the purpose for which they use that software. Marc Andreesen famously spoke of software eating the world – essentially this has come true and pretty much every aspect of our life is being driven by software. This integration of life and technology has made customers more demanding, and more prone to consider moving their business if their expectations are not met. What does this mean for software development? To my mind this is what is driving the “release fast, iterate often” movement in software development.

Given that need, the traditional SDLC, driven by the “Waterfall Model” has obviously been found wanting. That was too rigid, too linear, and just not nimble enough to meet the new demands. The Agile Manifesto offered a ready alternative and companies enthusiastically adopted it. As the Cloud and SaaS-based models of delivering software took over Agile got even more accelerated and transformed into Continuous Delivery of software. This transformation is now more or less complete. Last year an Atlassian survey found that 77% of all software development organizations practiced Agile development, and 50% practiced Continuous Delivery (CD).

I had written about how software development teams have changed with the advent of Agile and DevOps. The change in the team has been necessitated by a change of process. The software development process has become more granular, testing is now carried out in parallel to development, automation is much more central, business and domain owners are much more closely integrated into the software design, and there is a continuous effort to elicit and integrate customer feedback into the software. In parallel, software development teams have become more distributed and multi-locational. This has made the creation of software a much more collaborative process. In fact, the Atlassian survey mentioned earlier found that 78% of the software organizations were using a Distributed Version Control System (like Git).

Another big change we have seen is in the way software is architected. Self-contained, monolithic architectures started making way for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), that focused on the creation of modular elements that delivered business services. This has now further transformed into Microservices, with even more granular, potentially reusable services carved up from the old monolith. Apart from the need for speed, what drove this change was also the peculiarities of the Cloud and Mobile. There is now a greater emphasis on a small footprint and more efficient usage of resources. Another sea-change is in the emphasis on “Usability” at every stage. In the early days, there was almost a sense that software would be used by “experts” and the attention was on functionality. Today software lives and dies by the User Experience. So much attention is now lavished on the UI and the UX – how it looks, how easy is it to use, and how intuitive it is to get to learn is now key. Eric Raymond said, “The easiest programs to use are those which demand the least new learning from the user.”

As it happens, we have found a better way to make software, and the programming languages have kept pace. As I watched we have moved from C to Java, .Net, and PHP to Python and Ruby now As I watched we have moved from C to Java, .Net and JavaScript to JQuery and Angular/React now. Coding has become closer to how we naturally express ourselves. Along with these languages came their incredibly powerful libraries that made coding easier, faster, and more intuitive. In parallel came the open source wave – several special-purpose, community-contributed pieces of code that helped meet the very same objective, while being reusable too. This is where much change is anticipated, in ways that we may not even consider possible. There is talk of how developers may need to become data scientists in the future – a nod to the anticipated impact of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

However much the process of software development has changed, one thing I can be sure of is that software will always be built to address the needs of customers and that the intent will always be to deliver value, with quality. In that quest, it will always be design that is paramount. One quote from Louis Sruggley goes, “Without requirements or design, programming is the art of adding bugs to a text file.” Some things will never change, I guess!

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How Agile & DevOps Have Transformed The Traditional Software Development Team?

Over course of the past decade and a little more, software development has witnessed a sea change. Gone are the times when software development was a somewhat isolated process when development, business, operations and testing teams worked in their own siloes. As the need for software development speed increased, it led to the rise of new development methodologies. Agile and lean software development thus gained ground, as it helped development teams gain the momentum that they needed to put software into production and reduce the time-to-market. As the emphasis on digitization increased, agile development methodologies further evolved and we are now witnessing a rise of the DevOps culture.

DevOps further pressed the accelerator on the software delivery. Research from Puppet Labs shows that organizations using DevOps have been able to deploy code up to 30 times faster and that this code was 50 times less likely to fail – incredible! The rise of technologies such as Cloud and adoption of open-source technologies have further pushed organizations to adopt DevOps. A Gartner survey estimated that 25% of the 2000 global IT organizations planned to adopt DevOps in 2016 alone.

The success of methodologies such as agile and DevOps certainly hinges on the dexterity and capabilities of the development teams. At the same time, these methodologies demand a culture shift within the organizational environment too. Teams adopting these methodologies cannot work in siloes and expect project success. Clearly, one of the greatest contributors towards the success of these methodologies is a collaboration between teams and departments.

Most considering DevOps to be the extension of agile, it becomes apparent that there is a need for greater collaboration between the software development team, the IT professionals, and the business team. The idea here is to develop user-centric software, and to do that successfully, development teams need access to faster user feedback. There is also an increased emphasis on software automation to increase the speed of delivery and the focus is on creating an environment where development, testing, and product releases proceed seamlessly like a well-oiled machine. In order to do so, there has to be a tighter integration of QA and operations in the development process itself. That implies a team structure with business, development, quality, and operations, all tied together.

Development methodologies such as DevOps requires poly-skilled and autonomous teams that have a set of common goals. Unlike traditional software development where the development team produced the code and simply handed it off to the testing and QA team for evaluation, in these modern day methodologies, the development and operations team have to function collectively as they are equally responsible for the service and product maintenance.
Instead of just focusing on one aspect of development and production, DevOps engineers have to assist the development and QA team and help them address the development needs so that the final product that is delivered is of high quality, is error free and can be pushed out for production within the shortest timeframe. From automating builds to setting up servers to writing custom scripts for a specific technology stack, DevOps engineers have to act as the ultimate facilitators for high-quality software development.

A bit from Thomas Friedman’s book ‘The World is Flat’ talks about the change in culture and organizational shift as the world transforms, and this could apply to these development methodologies as well. He states that factors such as globalization, the opening of borders of developing countries, progress of software and growth of the internet are compelling the software industry to seek flatter structures in order to achieve competitive success. This demands not only the flattening of software releases but also of organizational structures which are only made possible by the “convergence of automation, tools, collaboration, and industry best practices and patterns.”

The motivation behind developing methodologies such as Agile and DevOps and using them in conjunction was to take the frustration of releasing and maintaining software out of software development. To do this, teams have to be cross-functional and experienced not only in development but also in areas such as database, configuration management, testing and infrastructure which can only be possible when development and operations teams work collaboratively. Thus we have seen the rise of developer-testers, release managers, automation architects, security engineers, utility technology players and experience assurance experts etc. who not only understand development but also understand business operations and user requirements.
As the velocity of software development increases, the traditional, role-bound software development team becomes increasingly redundant. With these new philosophies, every role is shifting and evolving. Teams thus need a wider understanding of what they need to achieve, develop it, test it and then deploy it. Thus, the role of the developer does not end with producing certain lines of code and the tester is not just expected to assess if a certain functionality is achieved. Everyone in the value chain is required to validate the user experience of the application under real-life conditions and scenarios. Companies that have adopted Agile and DevOps successfully have only been able to do so when they realized that they have to simplify the fragmented product development process and improve interactions between business and IT and move from a project-oriented to a product oriented mindset.

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My 2017 Software Industry Predictions

It’s that time of the year when we look into our crystal balls and make predictions for the year ahead. 2016 was a phenomenal year for the technology world. Technologies that emerged over the last few years, such as cloud, firmly planted their feet within the enterprise. Businesses changed their maneuvers to leverage their digital infrastructures and found new paths to engage with their customers and make their operations more efficient. What became increasingly evident over the past year was that the IT landscape had to change to accommodate the business challenges and that the enterprise was ready to adapt to the change brought forward by technological innovation. Here’s a look at what the year ahead promises – in my view at least.

  • New technologies provide new business opportunities
    2016 witnessed the rise of technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, IoT, Machine Learning etc. Forrester Research believes that Augmented Reality will be one of the top five technologies that will completely change the world over the course of the next three to five years. Consumers have been receptive towards these new technologies. Look at the success of Pokemon Go if you are looking for examples. As consumers become more open to adopting and experimenting with new technologies, it opens up new possibilities for organizations to create new opportunities by amalgamating data, mobile devices, applications to understand customer journeys better. We can thus expect to see tech budgets focus more on business technology in this new year.
  • Mobile testing all the way
    The World Quality Report 2016-17 discovered that while a large number of organizations were taking advantage of mobile solutions, mobile testing skills were relatively in their nascent stages in the development lifecycle. The lack of mobile testing experts and fragmented testing methodologies seems to have contributed to this. In 2017, however, as the number of consumer and enterprise grade mobile applications grow in demand and adoption, we can expect to see mobile testing strategies becoming more mature. Involving test engineers in the development process from the very beginning will be an assured way of improving business outcomes by delivering high quality and optimally performing app.
  • The future is cloudy
    IDC estimates that by 2020 “67% of enterprise IT infrastructure and software will be for cloud-based offerings.” We can expect to see more organizations move away from the on-premise infrastructure and adopt the cloud. As the demand for agility increases, digital transformation increases and more number of companies become global, organizations will be looking towards adopting cloud to drive innovation.
  • Test automation will become more mainstream
    To remain competitive, organizations will have to speed up their application development process. As the need for speedy deployments increases, 2017 will witness test automation become more mainstream. The focus on automation will be a great deal more as automation and new levels of testing to match the speed of development. Testing and application performance management tools will evolve more and provide organizations a more holistic view of their application development process and allow them to test new features.
  • The rise of Performance Engineering
    2017 is also expected to witness a greater impetus placed on performance to deliver best user experiences. To enable this, organizations will no longer just depend on performance tests but will increasingly focus on performance engineering to deliver consistent and uniform application performance across diverse platforms, devices, and operating systems.
  • Shift in the enterprise application landscape
    We can expect to see greater consumerization of enterprise applications. Instead of clunky enterprise apps, 2017 will usher in the era of consumer-quality enterprise applications that have intuitive user interfaces and an easily navigable information architecture even in the most complex systems. As multi-device collaboration becomes more mainstream, accessing files and information will become seamless across devices.
  • Agile Outbreak
    One of the biggest trends of 2017, I believe will be that the application of agile concepts will step out of the software/product development mode and will be applied in a much wider organizational context. Agile principle derivatives will become increasingly common in areas such as design/ merchandising strategy, design thinking, growth hacking etc. and forge interdisciplinary collaborations. Methodologies such as DevOps and Continuous delivery will also adopt agile to improve outcomes and build products, as well as organizations, that can be said to be well tested and bug-free. This means integrating testing into the build model. At an organizational level, agile concepts will be implemented to improve quality by ensuring scalability, availability, easy maintenance and simplification of complex systems. Agile concepts like transparency, inspection, continuous learning, process focus, flexibility, shorter feedback loops that can benefit each and every aspect of an organization will see greater adoption.

It is certainly a very exciting time to be in this industry as we gear up to face another year that’s full of technological potential and gear up to usher in the ‘age of the customer’.

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What CEOs of eCommerce Companies are Thinking This Holiday Season?

“The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” – Seth Godin

It’s that time of the year again. As Halloween slips by CEO’s of eCommerce and consumer internet-focused companies may be forgiven for having some scary visions of their own. There is so much at stake for these companies in the period between Thanksgiving and through till Christmas and the New Year, that some may wonder why this is called the Holiday Season. Don’t believe me- look at the numbers. The National Retail Foundation has reported that retailers could make as much as 30% of their entire annual sales in this short period. The number for online sales could rise this year to touch $117 billion, according to the NRF. Clearly, you cannot afford to have any problems slowing you (or your site) down at this time – your whole year could be a wash if something like that happens.

So what are these CEOs with scary visions thinking of at this time? Based on the conversations I have had with people like this over the years, I can narrow it down to 4 areas that seem to be the top priority.

  • Performance and Scalability:
    This is a serious issue considering the site is going to be hit more frequently and in much larger numbers at this time of the year than at any time in its lifetime before that. There is a very real impact if the site slows down, underperforms or crashes at this time. Kissmetrics has reported that each delay of 1 second in page response causes as much as a 7% reduction in conversions. The analysis is that for an ecommerce site selling $ 100,000 per day, this delay of 1 second could cost a whopping $ 2.5 million in lost sales annually – not a hit you want to take. They also report that customers have high expectations of speed, 47% of them want a web page to load in less than 2 seconds and as many as 40% of them will actually bail on the page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

    The CEO’s concern thus, is the site should allow for the greatly larger number of users, potentially in concentrated bursts and within a reasonably small time-window. Performance and load testing of the site and every component on it thus becomes critically important. Testing the site so it doesn’t pack up under the pressure of the sharp scaling that it will encounter at this time also becomes key.

  • Security:
    The enemy is at the gate – at least that’s what the consumers think. The highly visible coverage of credit card fraud, data loss, and identity theft has made consumers wary and this is impacting their buying behavior. A 2015 study by Bizrate Insights found that as many as 60% of consumers surveyed believed that online stores were just not doing enough to protect their card and personal information. This lack of confidence reflected in 34% of them expressing a hesitation to buy online.
    Those leading online retail companies have security front and center on their list of priorities. The cloud that hosts their site, the technologies their site is built on, the payment infrastructure, the individual components of the site, and even all the bells and whistles the site employs have all to be designed to be secure and rigorously tested to validate that they are, indeed so.
  • Usability:
    We live in an age of busy people with short attention spans. A famous book on design principles actually propagated the maxim “Don’t make me think.” This is the age of the impatient consumer and the “ease-of-use” factor of the website is an overriding concern. The Baymard Institute’s “Ecommerce Checkout Usability” survey from last year found that over 1 in 4 consumers abandoned their shopping cart without completing the order because they found the checkout process overly long or complicated. It’s not just the loss of revenue due to lost sales that motivate such sites to improve usability – there’s money to be made too. Defaqto Research has reported that 55% of the consumers in their survey wanted a better experience so much that they would be willing to pay more to get it.Taken together this represents a powerful motivator for the CEOs of these eCommerce companies to invest time, money and design effort to make their sites more intuitive, easy to navigate, and friendly. Testing of the UI, obviously plays a big role in that process.
  • Mobile:
    This is almost a foregone conclusion that your consumers are on the mobile. Statista has reported that over 75% of US internet users access the internet from their respective mobile devices. These users are spending money while online too, already about 28% of total online spending is from tablets and smartphones – projected to touch $ 200 billion in 2018. Then, there’s the consequence of not being on the mobile bandwagon. MoPowered found that 30% of all consumers abandoned their transaction if the experience was not optimized for the mobile.The challenge for the CEOs of these ecommerce and consumer internet companies is how to stay in front of this mobile game? There are some many mobile devices out there, multiple operating systems (well, at least 2), device capabilities, form-factors, and other such factors to worry about. Testing whether your site performs well across all of these options has to form a significant time of the testing strategy.

Conclusion:
These CEO’s of consumer internet and eCommerce companies obviously believe Seth Godin, that’s why they worry about the entire consumer experience on their site and the value they have to deliver. Given the importance of the holiday shopping season, it’s issues like those listed here, that could well be occupying their hearts and minds, on that quest.

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A Great Time to be ThinkSys – A Personal Note

Followers of my occasional posts on the ThinkSys blog site may find this post a bit out of character. I have usually spoken of issues that have equal parts technical or business impact, with a slight tilt towards software testing. This one though is more or a personal note. The last few weeks have been great for the entire ThinkSys team and I wanted to take this opportunity to say just why.

I’m just back from very busy few days in the company of the world’s leading software testing minds at TechWell’s StarWest. Like last year, ThinkSys was a platinum sponsor and, like last year, it was well worth the effort. We met a whole bunch of old friends and made a load of new connects. Clearly, the ThinkSys story of a focus on excellence, cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the QA, Test Automation, and web development services we offer has resonance.

It is this focus that has really made the last few weeks extra-special though. Over this time, we were selected to receive 3 major awards that really validate everything we are doing, as far as I am concerned.

First, we were selected for inclusion in the Inc 5000 – an annual compilation by the prestigious business publication, of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. Eric Schurenberg, President and Editor-in-Chief of Inc. has been quoted as saying, “No one makes the Inc. 5000 without building something great — usually from scratch.”. When you consider that companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Zappos.com have been included in this list in the past, you can understand the reason for our pride.

Apart from our presence in the US, our primary development center is in India. The region is important to us – as a market as well as a talent pool to hire from. In the first context, our selection as one among the Red Herring Asia 100 award is very significant for us. This is a list of the fastest growing technology companies in Asia. It’s a great honor to be included in this list because of the onerous selection criteria. Red Herring is known to evaluate companies across over 20 separate factors and the companies go through a 3-step review process, designed to eliminate everyone that don’t fully fit the bill. Red Herring says those that do make it could be in for “explosive growth”. That’s great for ThinkSys, I guess!

Our development center is located in the National Capital Region, just outside of Delhi India. In an accolade that, perhaps, represents our contribution to wider technology services sector in the area, global analysis and analytical research company, Worldwide Achievers, awarded us as the “Best Emerging Software Development Company in Delhi/NCR”. The award is decided after comprehensive market surveys and a great deal of research. We got this award from a representative of the highest level of the Indian government at the Worldwide Achievers Business Leader’s Summit & Awards 2016. My view is that this award is a sign of our growing influence as an employer as well as a thought leader in the technology areas we operate in – at least within the region we operate in.

All in all, this has been a great couple of months for ThinkSys. That said, and as I look at the first of our trophies sitting in our offices with pride, I take inspiration from knowing that the best has still to come. So with a promise to look at the future, let me end by thanking every one of our employees, associates, customers and everyone else who thought well of us – you have an equal share in our success!

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Here’s What We Look for While Hiring Great Software Testing Pros

By: Rajiv Jain (CEO, ThinkSys)

“Great Vision without great people is irrelevant” – Jim Collins

Today the consumers of technology are everywhere…from the biggest enterprises to the youngster with a mobile phone. As we get increasingly conversant with technology, it becomes essential to develop good and robust software products, that are bug-free, error-free and fast. Today, no organization or individual has the time, patience or bandwidth to deal with slow performing, buggy apps that can pose a productivity or security threat. To enable organizations to deliver to the demands of speed and performance one thing climbing up the priority chart is testing. With the proliferation of test automation, many feel that the role of a tester is just that of a facilitator. This could not be further from the truth. Testers are the secret weapons that guarantee that the products that we develop perform to their optimal capacity.

Everyone looks for testing skills, experience, and certifications but there is something more that sets the great software testing pro apart. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things we look out for when hiring these super-testers:

  1. Prioritization Skills:
    A software tester has to have the ability to bite off more than he can chew and yet be able to chew and swallow properly. Software testers have to deal with a lot of workloads such as designing strategy, writing test cases, creating reports etc. In most cases, they have to work against tight timelines. Hence, having great prioritization skills and good time management are the hallmark of a great tester – somehow their day seems to have just that many more hours. He/she needs to understand what needs to be tested and when, which task should rank lower on the priority list, which tasks should be automated and which should be manual and which tasks need to be addressed immediately.
  2. Attention to Detail:
    Testing demands an eye for detail. It can be easy to miss a small bug but that small miss can compound into a bigger problem in a very short span of time. So while identifying glaring issues seems easy enough, a testing pro will be able to identify the not-so-obvious issues, the small stuff that can snowball into a big impact on the application at hand. Sherlock with an instinct for code is what we need.
  3. A Creative Mind:
    Test professionals who can think beyond what the software is expected to do or what the users expect from the software are the ones who truly shine in this area. They should have a creative mind that allows them to think of new ideas to test a product and come up with ideas to use test cases in different scenarios. Coming up with new ideas to test a product ensures that the product performs optimally when it does get stressed.
  4. Curiosity:
    Curiosity is a great trait in a tester. Only when a tester has a keen and curious mind will he/she try to think out of the box, look for problems in the unlikeliest of places and come up with intelligent solutions. A curious mind also gives the tester the ability to see the big picture and connect the dots to see how each action is impacting the project
  5. Ability to think from the user’s perspective:
    A tester should be able to think like a user. In order to achieve end user satisfaction, testers have to think from the perspective of the user. They should be able to get into the user’s shoes and walks all around in them to identify how the users want to communicate and interact with the product. So great testers have the ability to understand their target audience and assess how their user base will be interacting with the application and then develop test cases and test plan to get complete coverage and get an application that performs optimally.
  6. Ability to ask questions:
    A tester-extraordinaire has to learn to ask questions…a lot of questions…even questions that might seem irrelevant to another without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. By learning to ask the right set of questions, a tester can understand the requirement, understand the changes that need to be incorporated and implement them, understand the bigger picture and define the scope of testing.
  7. Data analysis skills:
    Great testers don’t only write test cases but also have the ability read and analyze test data generated from a particular application. If they have identified a ‘non-reproducible bug’ then they should have the capability to analyze the test environment, the test data, the interruptions in code etc. to assess where the bug generated and fix it accordingly. They also need to analyze data generated from testing script execution during test automation to find loopholes and performance gaps and identify ways to increase testing productivity.
  8. Reporting skills:
    Testing demands a lot of reporting. Hence having good reporting skills, possessing the ability to report negative things in a positive way, write status reports for clients and especially say a lot, but in a succinct, crisp manner etc. should come naturally to a tester.
  9. Thirst for knowledge:
    To be a good, well anything, and especially a good software tester, one has to possess a thirst for knowledge. Knowledge, for a tester, does not end with mastering one scripting language but continues as they have to stay in step with the latest technological developments and automation tools to keep coming up with new ideas to test better.
  10. Be a great negotiator:
    Negotiating well should come naturally to a tester as they have to negotiate with different people at different stages of a project. They have to have the skills to convince developers (who usually are quite possessive about the code they develop) that there is a defect in the code, explain its impact and get the defect resolved.

Conclusion
Another thing that a tester has to have in abundance is ‘perseverance’. Only when a tester is patient enough to explore the software constantly to find bugs and make new improvements and take all the testing challenges and complexities in the positive spirit can he/she become a great tester. At the end of the day, we go by the motto, “When we move our focus from completion to contribution, life becomes a celebration”. Our best testers feel the same way!

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