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Choosing the Right Test Automation Outsourcing Partner

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of meeting the schedule has been forgotten.

The importance of software testing cannot be reinforced more. While testing is an essential part of software development, it is not the core competency of most of the companies which are into the development of the software. It involves a considerably wide range of activities such as test strategy definition, test case creation, test plan development, automation strategy, and of course, execution. Outsourcing the testing to the niche companies which have strong expertise in testing provide multiple benefits such as – faster time to market, improved product quality, and reduced testing costs. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise to know that the worldwide software testing outsourcing market is expected to grow from $30 Billion in 2010 to $50 Billion in 2020.

Test automation is a further niche area in the testing space where very few companies seem to have mastered the skills and expertise. Choosing a right test automation partner involves a little more careful effort. Before you finalize your test automation outsourcing partner, here are few things which you need to carefully evaluate:-

  • Business Understanding:
    Yes, testing automation involves technology but it is more of a business decision. Whether to go for Automaton, what should be the goal of automation, how does the strategy align with the business goals –  one needs to get answers to these questions while formulating the test automation strategy. Your outsourcing partners should be able to work with you to help you achieve your business goals and not just provide you “testing experts who are ready to work for 10 hours a day”.
  • Project Understanding:
    “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”– Voltaire
    Every test automation project is different and it requires special consideration of various aspects such as project context, the current state of the application, future roadmap, business goals, the current state of automation etc. If a vendor comes back to you with a standard strategy, then you should be skeptical about such vendor. The right test automation outsourcing partner will ask you all the right questions to understand your project before suggesting a strategy to you.
  • Project Management and Processes:
    This might be the standard requirement for all the outsourcing projects but it is a crucial requirement for test automation outsourcing. Test automation requires proper planning and a very streamlined execution for it to be successful. When you are looking for a vendor, look for someone which has well-established project management tools and processes. The teams should be trained on those. You will need periodic reviews, regular status updates, and acceptance cycles – the vendor needs to have all the required setup in place to facilitate this.
  • Respect for Intellectual Property:
    Due diligence and respect for intellectual property is quite important for your testing outsourcing initiatives because you might share some testing artifacts, test cases, and sometimes, even the source code with the outsourced vendor. You must ensure that the vendor not only understands the importance of intellectual property protection but also has strict guidelines in place for adherence.
  • Experience:
    Nobody likes being a Guinea Pig. Evaluate the vendor for its experience of working on a variety of test automation projects and its experience of working with multi-cultural teams. We highly recommend asking for client references and case studies. Go for a vendor who has won the trust and praise of the well-known names in the industry. If you feel it necessary, go ahead and speak to their customers to understand their experience on delivery timelines, output quality, technology competency, costs etc.
  • Testing Experts:
    As mentioned earlier, test automation is a niche area and unless testing is your core competency, there is a little chance that you will be able to do a good job at that. Test automation involves definition of a strong strategy, business understanding, selection of right tools and technology, having the right team in place, expertise in test case creation and execution abilities. When you look for a test automation outsourcing partner, ensure that testing is the core competency of the company you choose- it cannot be “one of the many things they do”. Having a focus helps in the development of right processes, training, and team selection.
  • Scaling Up and Down:
    Instead of depending on one or two persons for the execution of test automation, you need a team which is well-trained on all the aspects of execution. Outsourcing needs to offer you the flexibility to scale up or scale down the team size at a short notice without a strong dependence on any particular people in the team.
  • Knowledge and Understanding of Tools and Technologies:
    Test automation requires knowledge and understanding of a variety of tools and technologies. Your test automation partner should be capable of selecting the right technology which is apt for “your requirements”. Just because they have expertise in one technology does not make that technology right for you. You must evaluate the expertise of the outsourcing vendor with various tools and technologies.
  • Know What NOT to Automate:
    More than “what to automate”, the real skill lies in deciding “what not to automate”. Look for a partner who can help you make these decisions. Sometimes, conducting certain tests manually makes more business sense. A knowledgeable outsourcing partner should help you make these decisions.

We strongly believe that the test automation outsourcing vendor cannot work in isolation. It needs to work with you as a partner to your company and needs to be invested in the project.

We hope these guidelines help you make the right decision in the selection of the test automation partner for your project.

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