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    A Story of Outsourcing Product Testing: The Shift from ‘Hell No’ to ‘Let’s Do It’

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    A-Story-of-Outsourcing-Product-Testing-The-Shift-from-‘Hell-No’-to-‘Let’s-Do-It’-landing

    Seagulls were flying overhead, and the tangy smell of the morning sea was wafting towards the beach. I was taking a quiet walk, feeling the sand in my feet and the wind in my hair. Reaching a slightly crowded part of the beach, I saw a guy lounging on a deck chair, reading a book I had enjoyed just a few days back.

    Our eyes met, I pointed towards the book and grinned at him. 

    “A fellow Steven Covey fan?” He asked with a smile. “Yep. And an even bigger fan of the book you are reading.”

    We got talking about books and the movies, and shortly the conversation drifted to what we were most passionate about. Turned out, we were both involved in software product development: Richard was owner of a fledgling ISV, he was the guy who came up with innovative ideas for products. While I am at the other end, implementing software development for ISVs. We enthusiastically talked about the products we had built, we debated processes, and we talked about the best way to build and launch products.

    “I must disagree with you on that,” he said.“Oh come on, it works. And it works well. I’ve been doing it for years. I must know.”“Maybe, but in my mind the cons outweigh the pros.”“Okay, but what’s your logic? Have you even tried it before?”“I wouldn’t dream of outsourcing the development work. We are a compact and highly productive team; adding more developers to the mix will simply rock the boat and slow us down.”“Oh well, at least give it a chance. You have my number. Give me a call any time you feel the need for extra hands on any of your projects.”

    We had a good talk and we exchanged contact details. Over the months, stayed in touch and continued our conversation about books, movies, life and work. But we avoided the topic of outsourcing, and I was cool with that.

    So, I was pretty excited when he called up a couple of months later. We talked over a cup of coffee, and he outlined the scenario:

    “We have added a number of new features just before the release. While we’ve tested them thoroughly, the short time frame forced us to do a rush job. External validation for the new features would help us breathe easy. But there are some challenges.”

    Not only did he want us to deliver super-quick, but there were some hurdles on the way:

    • The developers had been associated with the product for a long time, and there was no standard documentation for testing
    • There already was a large backlog of support issues
    • Application security – right down to individual module level – was of paramount importance, leaving zero margin for error
    • There were dozens of end users with varying levels of access who could perform a wide range of tasks, giving rise to endless possible combinations

    “Frankly, I don’t know if you can deliver on time – the task is huge and we have less than a month,” Richard said.“Richard, I know it is a tough task, but I am really interested in changing your views. I take it as a challenge.”“Fine. Let’s thrash out how we can engage. Also, how will your QA guys work with my team?”“Don’t worry about all that. We have clear engagement models in place, and collaboration tools will make working together easy.”“That’s great. But I am also worried about the security measures. I am not sure I am comfortable sharing the data with you – we want to use some real data and it is customer–”“Don’t worry about it. We can set up VPNs and work on your servers, you don’t need to give us any data.”“Okay, let’s do it.”

    It was a like leaping on a train moving at 100 miles: challenging as well as exhilarating. Richard was unsure if we’d be able to deliver, and he had outsourced the first part of the same task to two different teams. Our QA team really put their back into the task.

    • We spent hours with the system, talked to Richard’s team and familiarized ourselves with the system – this helped us overcome the problems created by lack of documentation
    • We performed regression, functional and performance testing on all the modules
    • Cygnet’s findings enabled the client to identify and plug several loopholes impacting performance
    • By deploying TestingWhiz, our test automation tool, we accelerated the testing process and were able to meet stringent time frames

    Our efforts were rewarded when Richard chose Cygnet as its testing partner: he decided to focus in-house resources on developing new product and upgrading the existing product stack.

    “I didn’t expect this level of commitment and quick turnaround from an offshore team. Now I can release new features, sure in the knowledge that the product will deliver a good experience to the users.”“Richard, I’m happy to be of service. And, I’m even happier that you finally agree that outsourcing can be a handy tool in the arsenal of an ISV.”“I must say that more than any other thing, it was your smart use of automation tools that helped you clinch the deal. I must say I’d not mind using your team for product testing in future.”

    What’s your take on outsourcing product testing? Please share your insights and experiences in the comments! 

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