Four Ways Crowdtesting Drives Operational Efficiency and Cost-Effective Development

Crowdtesting — a managed-solution model that leverages skilled testers from around the world to execute the full spectrum of testing, from functional to user experience, payment to accessibility testing — has many benefits to software development organizations. It helps companies improve digital quality by quickly identifying defects and issues early in development cycles, improving tests for accessibility compliance and inclusive design, and has a wide array of use cases across industries.

Crowdtesting offers companies compelling return on investment

Crowdtesting has gained significant momentum over the last decade and has been adopted by many of the world’s most innovative and digital-first brands including Google, Microsoft, Paypal and Spotify, just to name a few. In addition to finding all levels of bugs and providing clear insights to issues occuring throughout the software development cycle (SDLC), the crowdtesting model offers companies compelling return on investment (ROI). This is key at all times, but particularly during times of constrained budgets, when there is a scarcity of testing and QA resources and volatile market conditions.

For example, crowdtesting, largely immune to macro market trends, sidesteps the issues associated with hiring for in-house testing or managing an offshoring partner, as both are influenced by factors such as the great resignation, normal resource attrition, headcount cuts, etc. Crowdtesting’s case for ROI doesn’t stop there; it offers companies the ability to scale quickly with highly trained resources, eliminating ramp up times. In difficult financial times, firms can enlist a crowdsourcing partner as a cost reduction strategy – accessing testers at a fraction of the cost and time of building an internal team. Finally, the model also can be used as a cost-avoidance strategy, enabling organizations to stay lean and utilize only the amount of resources needed at a given time.

Maintaining digital quality in a volatile market

In a recent article for Forbes titled “Can Improving Digital Quality Recession-Proof Your Business? Not Completely, But It Can Help,” I explored the topic of recession-proofing your business, and how attention to quality and new ways of working support this approach. I’d like to dive a little deeper around the idea of keeping your organization on the quality path as we look into an upcoming year that many believe will be challenging for businesses around the world.

So, what are a few ways that crowdtesting can help you maintain high quality in your organization, cost optimize, hedge against budget constraints and variability in workforce?

1. Reduces hard costs of maintaining a test lab

There is significant expense associated with maintaining test labs. The intention of labs — to mimic the customer experience as closely as possible by attempting to replicate real experiences — is well-intentioned, but falls short.

Device matrices are growing more complex every day. Ensuring adequate testing coverage across all device/OS/locations/network combinations is becoming ever more complex and prohibitively expensive. Even if you can afford to maintain all needed device sets and all variations of device/OS combinations, these devices simply remain lab devices.

Crowdtesting helps eliminate internal testing lab costs by using testers around the world with access to any and all devices, which can be part of your current or future test matrix. There’s simply no better way to replicate real-world experiences than by leveraging real testers in the real world.

We have found the following reported attributes from clients:

  • A spend range — not using crowdtesting — of $40k/yr (smaller firm) to $700k/yr (large firm) on devices and space, and a staffing spend of as much as $1M - $2M

  • $50k - $80k/year in savings using crowdtesting (small firm)

  • Significant cost savings due to the number of device/OS configurations available in the Applause community, global reach and freed up staff time through reducing the amount of device sets managed

2. Uncovers costly bugs earlier in the software development life cycle

As bugs slip deeper into SDLC, they become more expensive to fix. Manual functional testing, particularly employing exploratory testing, becomes particularly key, as many bugs are missed when testers simply follow the happy path. Our customers have reported the potential for a 30-50% reduction in critical fixes needed. As fewer bugs escape into the post-production environment, developers spend less time fixing critical bugs, and this helps release velocity and enables innovation that might otherwise be lost to time on fixes. Uncovering more bugs during the normal testing cycle also minimizes the need for patch releases.

Regarding their use of crowdtesting, our customers have reported reported:

  • More than a 50% reduction in number of customers that experience a defect

  • 50% reduction in testing costs

  • Significant improvement in the number of escaped bugs, which are estimated to cost, in some cases, as much as $500k per bug in lost revenue

  • Applause teams discovering substantially more defects than internal teams

3. Increases the testing capacity of your internal team

Software testing is time-consuming and resource intensive. A crowdtesting team augments your internal teams to significantly expand their capacity and reach. This means existing teams gain instant teammates who can accelerate test cycles and help match the right level of resource with the right work. It also alleviates the management overhead associated with maintaining an expanded team. Crowdtesting provides a “liquid workforce,” helping you build your team when it’s difficult to find and retain talent.

Crowdtesting doesn’t just provide headcount. It brings maturity and the expertise to benchmark, for example, cycle times and how they improve. Also, when compared to the offshoring model — where knowledge may be uncovered, but workers are left wondering what to do next — crowdtesting carries an inherent consultative and knowledge management additive. Delivery managers serve as a single point of contact with development orgs and manage all moving parts on the testing side, ensuring capture of all testing results and insights.

In our past ROI work with Hobson & Company, and through ongoing initiatives with current customers, we’ve found that our customers reported many realized benefits to crowdtesting:

  • 15-20% more efficiency of internal developer and QA testing teams

  • Two to three times increased capacity of the overall testing team

  • A greatly reduced need to hire testers in house. In one case, a larger firm was able to avoid hiring 20 full-time testers

4. Improves productivity - allowing higher quality releases

Another way to hedge against market uncertainty and optimize your business is to maintain or attain high quality standards while keeping up with the insatiable demand for digital innovation. Development orgs that keep pace with market demand and get revenue-generating features to market more often do better.

The crowdtesting model is particularly adept at delivering actionable results in hours while improving on-time release rates by providing faster testing data. Testers can work with your sprint teams in a follow-the-sun time zone approach, enabling more coverage during the week. This frees up internal teams to be more productive and helps avoid overtime or having to make a difficult decision around test coverage vs. existing capacity, which can impact quality standards to meet release times. Crowdtesting’s approach, enabling very fast feedback and comprehensive insights, also allows product teams to confidently increase the number of features included in each release. In addition, automated functional testing can incrementally increase the speed of a release when integrated into a comprehensive testing strategy.

When it comes to crowdtesting and productivity/higher quality releases, clients have reported:

  • A doubling of the functionality of their app over the previous six months

  • Reduction in test cycle times from four to two weeks

  • A doubling of native app releases, from 6/year to 12/year

  • Increased release velocity from 5/year to 12/year

SDLC efficiencies help development orgs, regardless of market conditions

While I’ve just called out four key ways that crowdtesting helps organizations cost optimize and maintain business continuity in challenging times, it’s also true that development organizations should strive for SDLC efficiencies in all market conditions. There are many other benefits to be gained from leveraging crowdtesting to its fullest:

  • Improved success with global launches. Every geographic market is uniquely complex, with local networks, devices, payment systems, purchasing habits, cultural differences and more. No other approach comes close to what using local testers can do for efficiency and accuracy.

  • Gain an automatic consultant. Crowdtesting offers years of experience and consultative expertise in all the issues inherent in the SDLC and across specific industry segments.

  • Enhance continuity of workflow and knowledge. Partnering with a crowdtesting provider offers an integrated workflow – through Jira, for example – capturing and retaining key insights/actions, and even can provide project management to improve current processes.

  • Increased app availability. Minimizing downtime of digital properties due to a defect is critical to limiting lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction.

  • Stronger customer retention/loyalty. When digital experiences fall short of expectations, firms risk losing customers to competitors.

  • Increased customer conversion rates. Less stable digital properties result in lower customer conversion rates.

  • Improved accessibility compliance. Accessibility testing – with a highly diverse group of testers including those with disabilities – helps minimize penalties and litigation costs, and expands markets as more customers interact with your product or service.

  • Inclusive design. When real testers, particularly those with permanent or temporary disabilities give feedback and insight early in the SDLC, products become better and everyone benefits.

Highly customizable, effective and nimble, crowdtesting enables cost optimization for organizations during challenging financial times, but its value holds up in all market conditions. Crowdtesting always has a place in the strategy of adept and forward-thinking organizations that understand its clear benefits and measurable ROI.

Learn more about crowdtesting in our ebook, "Essential Guide to Crowdtesting."

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Rob Mason
Chief Technology Officer
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