10 Must-Have Criteria for a Software Testing Partner

David Carty
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Don’t settle for just any software testing provider

There’s no shortage of software testing partners ready and willing to serve overworked QA departments across the globe. As applications scale and add features, it becomes near impossible to conduct all of your testing in house — especially if you want to ensure a quality digital experience for all of your users. Remember, abandoned or unhappy users means lost revenue.

However, not all QA partners are the same. Software testing providers come in a variety of forms, such as a strategic partner, testing outsourcer, or specialized testing supplier.

When choosing a software testing partner, don’t settle for one that can only address a limited scope of your QA needs. Choose a partner that offers a holistic approach to testing in a comprehensive and easy-to-use manner.

While individual needs vary business to business and industry to industry, there are common elements that a strategic QA partner should be able to deliver. We’ll explain why an effective software testing partner should meet these 10 criteria:

  • Enterprise-grade testing at scale

  • Test coverage for devices and platforms

  • Ability to find the right testers

  • Comprehensive software testing, not just functional validation

  • Localized testing to reach users in your markets

  • Adaptability and responsiveness

  • Fit with your software release cadence

  • Testing expertise in your industry

  • True innovation in testing

  • Ease of use

1. Enterprise-grade testing at scale

The scale and scope of testing often expands over time. Many internal QA organizations struggle to keep up with the testing demands of their apps and data — and it’s no different for software testing partners. Inexperienced QA partners might deliver on smaller efforts such as pilot projects and app launches. However, can they continue to test effectively in new markets, or when the app expands capabilities beyond the original scope?

Your software testing partner must be able to scale along with your digital products. To be truly enterprise-grade, QA partners must be able to allocate sufficient resources to your products, on both the management and tester sides.

Also, keep in mind that you will need net-new testers over time. The software testing partner must be able to keep up with your ongoing needs. For example, you might require new testers to meet increased delivery demands or deliver a fresh perspective of a new feature.

Testing at scale isn’t just throwing more people at a problem. As a business expands, so does its risk. Your software testing partner must combat emerging threats to your business, whether they come from malicious actors or nosy competitors. Find a provider that offers secure testing at scale and protects your intellectual property and your infrastructure.

If you need world-class, enterprise-scale testing, here’s how Applause delivers.

2. Test coverage for devices and platforms

Gone are the days when the majority of users interacted with digital products on a desktop or laptop computer. There are more devices and platforms every year. It is nearly impossible to test all permutations of devices, OSes, platforms and networks, but you must validate as many as possible, especially the ones your customers use.

Software testing partners should expand test coverage for devices and platforms that are outside the scope of testability for many organizations. Device farms are costly, and often impractical from a dollars and cents standpoint. Every year, there are new iOS and Android devices and OS versions, not to mention more feature-rich connected devices, such as automobiles, refrigerators, thermostats, plugs and in-home voice assistants. A quality software testing partner should provide resources — in-house or externally — that enable you to expand test coverage for all the necessary devices.

Also, as alternative platforms like streaming video and virtual reality take hold, you need a QA partner who can keep up. Turn to a software testing partner who can leverage testers all around the world to validate functionality and services, and keep the revenue stream rolling in.

Here's how Applause provisions the devices and platforms you need to ensure proper test coverage.

3. Ability to find the right testers

Anyone can test a product, but not everyone can test a product well. Even fewer QA partners can test the product in the specific ways you need, and still fewer can accurately represent the users you’re trying to delight.

Your QA partner must be able to provide testers that meet your needs — easier said than done. A pool of testers for one app might be the wrong fit for another. Consider the example of a new customer rewards feature launching in select U.S. markets. The retailer might require testers who:

  • live in the areas where you’ll launch;

  • likely or already shop at the retailer;

  • use the devices that are high priority;

  • pay with specific payment methods;

  • are willing to visit a store to test out the rewards card;

  • have a track record of success testing retail apps or reward programs;

  • will agree to a strict non-disclosure agreement.

Businesses get very specific with their job listings, and it might make sense to follow suit with in-the-wild testers. Your software testing partner must be able to shift gears and offer testers that match your needs, every time. If the provider can’t cultivate a pool of the right testers, you can’t effectively meet your test objectives.

A software testing partner should give you the ability to select testers for future participation, or exclude ones who report low-value or unreproducible defects. Your feedback is an important consideration in honing the testing pool for the next project; software testing partners must value that input.

Learn more about crowdtesting facts and fiction, and how Applause finds the right testers for the job.

4. Comprehensive software testing, not just functional validation

Functional testing is at the heart of QA, but it’s not the only means by which an application should be validated. Just because an app meets functional requirements doesn’t mean it meets user expectations — and software testing partners must account for this.

While functional tests cover a lot of ground, specialized testing programs can help address areas that lack real-world test coverage. Payment testing, for example, helps organizations ensure they can secure revenue for their apps. Software testing partners must be able to process real payments, not just dummy transactions, as part of this approach. Similarly, accessibility testing helps businesses tap into a user base that is too often marginalized: people with disabilities. QA partners should help organizations implement accessibility from the design stage and maintain conformance throughout the software development life cycle.

Comprehensive software testing also means evaluating the user experience. What delights users about your app? Where do they struggle to interact with features? Can all users sufficiently read or hear the functionality? Software testing partners must provide actionable UX insights that enable the organization to deliver better customer experience and retain users.

Dig in to learn how the Applause Product Excellence Platform delivers a comprehensive testing approach.

5. Localized testing to reach users in your markets

In-house teams can validate many aspects of an application, but one of the unique benefits of a software testing partner is the ability to provide a different perspective. Your software testing partner must be able to provide localized perspectives from in-market digital experts to validate the app in the market and conditions that you require.

Localization goes beyond simply making sure the app functions properly in a different region. Localized testing efforts should confirm many details specific to the user’s geography, including:

  • Language. Your applications must be able to communicate with a user, but also connect with them. Simple language translations can lose nuance and introduce confusion, where some words have different meanings in other languages.

  • Currency. If your application can’t accept payments in the local user’s currency, it can devastate your revenue generation — not to mention user retention. In addition to payment testing, localized testing can identify regional irregularities with payments — residents of some countries, for example, might prefer a type of payment an app can’t support.

  • Regulations. What’s legal in one country, state or municipality isn’t necessarily legal in another. In some cases, as little as one mile or kilometer can make the difference between revenue-generating app usage and criminal charges. Localized testing can ensure that you’re on the right side of the law — and the border — with your apps.

  • Culture. When you fail to understand your users, it can be easy to offend them. This goes beyond simple words or phrases. For example, what types of imagery might they find distasteful? And does the tone of the app mesh with the tone of their day-to-day lives? Localized testing experts and users can answer these important questions to help deliver an app that engages — and doesn’t offend — users.

Without a tactful approach to localized testing, users will quickly abandon your app in favor of one that makes sense to them. Ask your software testing provider about the depth of their in-market testers and specific examples of where they’ve met customer needs in the past. If they can’t prove their value in a recent overseas launch, do you want to take the risk that they can deliver for you?

Here’s more on how Applause provides vetted testers from all around the world to meet your quality needs.

6. Adaptability and responsiveness

If your software testing partner isn’t delivering valuable results, it must be ready to change course. One test strategy might work well for one app, but not for another.

Many QA partners follow a monolithic model, and they retrofit customer releases to fit into their workflow. Instead, find a software testing provider that adapts to your workflow and changing needs. If you plan to deploy new functionality into a new market, customize a software testing strategy for that release — and make sure the partner can deliver on those needs. Fresh, in-market perspectives are the closest comparison to how a user will interact with and perceive the app.

Responsiveness is crucial too. If testers aren’t delivering useful results, can you reach a team lead who can resolve the issue? Are they able to meet on your schedule, 24/7, and with your desired frequency? Can they offer personalized support, not just a generic email address? Are they as transparent as you’d like? Remember that a QA partner works for you, not the other way around; the partner should be flexible with your requests and responsive in communication.

See how Applause adapts to meet ever-changing customer needs.

7. Fit with your software release cadence

We all know the pressure to release high-quality software on a tight schedule. The last thing you want is to wait impatiently for that last, late round of testing to complete.

Software testing partners must work with your software release cadence. Establish parameters for timelines and development methodology at the outset of your testing agreement, and ensure that the software testing provider can meet your needs. Where possible, the QA partner should integrate with the software you already use, such as Jira for bug tracking and triage.

While it might take time to find testers in the markets you need, the software testing partner should ideally provide ways to test earlier in the lifecycle to avoid bottlenecks. In-sprint testing is one way to keep projects on schedule, as is test automation — via codeless automation, test scripts or both.

Your software testing partner should feel like a teammate. If your QA partner doesn’t fit seamlessly into your workflow, it might be more of a burden than its worth. A software testing provider should be both easy to work with and deliver great value.

Read on to learn how Applause fits in with your software release cadence and the tools you use.

8. Testing expertise in your industry

Of course, you want high-quality testers. However, testing expertise comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Many software testing partners offer domain experience in QA. This is valuable, to be sure. Experienced testers are inquisitive, skilled and relentless in their pursuit of defects. When testers can offer test automation or coding skills as well, it’s a recipe for a well-tested product.

Consultants, on the other hand, typically offer industry-specific know-how that can help organizations get more strategic with their products. But, if they don’t provide real-world testing skills or resources, you might fall short on testing coverage goals.

Seek out a software testing partner that offers both domain experience and knowledge in your particular industry. A tester familiar with working in retail apps, for example, will know to test specific edge cases that might not occur to other testers. Likewise, a tester who specializes in iOS apps will spot issues faster and might provide more thorough bug reports.

Make testing expertise work for you, with digital experts tailored to your particular industry and technical needs. If a software testing partner can’t cultivate such a skilled group of experts, it might be time to look for a new one.

Learn how Applause provides specialized testing guidance and expertise for customers across industries such as retail, healthcare, media, and travel and hospitality.

9. True innovation in testing

Development pushes the pace of innovation, and software testers need to adapt by any means necessary. In-house testers should leverage any tools at their disposal to help them get their jobs done quickly and efficiently — and, where necessary, rely on an innovative software testing partner to make advancements on their behalf. An “innovative approach” simply isn’t enough; you need the tools to do the job — true innovation.

Software testing needs to get done quickly and comprehensively — two goals that are often at odds, which is why ongoing innovation in testing is necessary. Testing tools can help teams accomplish a variety of objectives, such as mature test automation, push tests earlier in the lifecycle, or enable better test case management. If you can’t build something internally, ask whether your QA partner plans to expand functionality in your area of need — or whether they plan to expand at all. While some testing methods are tried and true, software testing partners should be open to new approaches and technologies that enable swifter delivery of quality software. If they can’t — or won’t — innovate, it might be a matter of time before competitors pass them.

Don’t settle for a QA partner that’s done everything the same way for 10 years. Find one that can innovate to keep up with the trends and the times.

Click through to see how Applause Labs pushes the pace of innovation in testing.

10. Ease of use

Your customers know this fact all too well: if something’s not easy to use, they won’t use it. The same goes for software testing partners and their platforms.

From end to end, the QA partner must provide an intuitive and clear experience for clients across a variety of roles. Customers in search of a software testing partner are likely already struggling with their testing’s complexity. The software testing provider should solve more problems than they create and reveal issues your organization couldn’t find itself.

If your team struggles to work with the software testing partner, it’s a drain on value, as it might delay releases or involve more team members — and it might even cause some skepticism over the test results. Ease of use captures value and inspires confidence.

The QA partner should provide all the evidence needed to prove and resolve a bug, including reproduction steps, tester screenshots and video recordings; this helps you better understand and reproduce defects. Testers should produce a detailed, vetted test summary to help you easily triage and remediate defects, not waste time with out-of-scope bugs and unclear results.

Learn how Applause makes it easy to script automated tests without writing a single line of code.

How Applause delivers for customers

As a global leader in software testing services and solutions, Applause prides itself on making customers happy. Whether you’re a global retailer, a household-name financial services enterprise or a regional healthcare provider, it’s crucial that your customers have exceptional digital experiences. If not, they’ll take their business to your competition.

“The ease with which we can spin up test cycles, get test results, and have global coverage is simply outstanding,” said John Bartucci, VP of Connected Products at Master Lock. “Economically, there is no way we could afford to do in-house what Applause achieves for us externally.”

Follow the links above to learn how Applause delivers enterprise-grade testing at the scope and scale you need, while also innovating to bring you new products to help testing keep up in a fast-paced world. Or contact us to learn how we can deliver world-class testing in a matter of days.

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