Today I wanted to touch on a pretty hot topic – an issue that has become quite relevant due to the current US presidential race in which jobs and outsourcing have taken center stage.
When you typically think of outsourcing, you think of manufacturing jobs sent to China and virtual assistants in India – categories into which our own software testing management tools don’t really fit.
But an increasing number of start-ups in the developing world have begun leveraging their IT savvy to take advantage of new job opportunities in the West. Hospitals sending X-rays electronically to Mumbai for analysis. Law firms outsourcing their accounting needs to firms in Manila. The Internet has made the world much smaller (or larger?), making it easier to source cheaper labor and talent.
We sometimes receive comments from our own users asking if we feel that software test management will succumb to this trend. More specifically, they want to know if SaaS software QA testing tools are conducive to outsourcing.
Some of these queries are based on apprehension (i.e. fear of losing one’s job). Others are looking for new opportunities (i.e. the aforementioned cheaper labor and talent). But before getting into whether or not outsourced SaaS software testing poses a threat or opportunity, let’s explore why so many countries in the developing world have embraced the SaaS concept.
SaaS Software QA Testing Tools and Lean Production
The most obvious advantage of SaaS software testing is cost. For a young startup in Mumbai, paying for software-as-a-service is considerably cheaper than installing on-site servers. This is especially true if you live in a region with unreliable electricity. If your server unexpectedly powers down, you won’t necessarily be able to recover lost work.
Another reason why more and more “outsource hungry” countries embrace SaaS software QA testing tools is convenience. You can share your screen with the client and show him or her exactly the bugs, scripts, and tests. There’s less emailing back and forth when both parties are literally on the same page.
And lastly, you don’t need to have a huge team to get started. With traditional testing platforms, you need installation, server maintenance, and at least one IT expert on call during working hours. With SaaS alternatives, you only need one person (the tester) – from Day 1 onwards. This has very obvious appeal for small companies in Latin America and Asia that want a larger piece of the software testing pie.
Virtual environments offer many obvious benefits. But are those benefits sufficient enough for you to be worried about your own job? And if you’re an executive, should you begin replacing your in-house testers with cheaper, virtual alternatives?
Yes and no.
SaaS software testing does make it easier to outsource. There’s no doubt about that. And you can definitely find cheaper talent. But this doesn’t make SaaS-based software testing tools a clear winner in my book. And here are 2 reasons why.
Reason 1: Potential Loss of Quality
Cost is important. But quality is no less important. I think most software development firms would happily pay a king’s ransom to avoid putting out buggy products. So although you can find cheaper labor in many other countries, outsourcing is not always a money saver if the talent you find isn’t up to the task.
This is obviously changing. Whatever advantages the West has in IT and infrastructure are not going to stick around forever. One way to protect yourself is through continued education and frequent retraining.
Reason 2: Loss of Team Environment
Once you begin outsourcing, you lose some cohesion and control.
I’ve covered the importance of including everyone on software project planning, from testers to developers to accounting to marketing. The more input you have in the early days, the better. And as problems crop up (which always happens), there’s a lot of benefit to having your testers in-house whenever you need them.
In addition, once you begin outsourcing, the dynamics begin to change. I’m a firm believer that testers are not an addendum – they represent one of the essential pillars of a successful software development team. But when you outsource your software QA testing needs, you inadvertently place the testers on lesser footing.
I don’t mean that you look down on them. In fact, they could be the best testing team in the world, and you could be a tiny startup yourself. But you’re the client and they’re the hired help. It’s true. They can make recommendations, but they don’t get a vote.
Under these conditions, you can’t expect your outsourced team to feel the same infectious company spirit. They won’t take one for the team. They won’t necessarily make sacrifices. And they evaluate success and failure very differently since they don’t have the same “stake” in your project. We cheer when we successfully put out an error-free product. They cheer when they discover more bugs (and billable hours).
So yes, while SaaS software QA testing tools have made outsourcing much easier, I don’t think it’s a game changer for the industry… yet. There will be more competition for sure. But I truly believe that companies that invest in intangibles like education and teamwork will continue to outperform those that focus exclusively on the money saved by outsourcing.
Agree? Disagree? Comment down below.