The Alternative to Outsourced Testing

Dan Cagen
minute read

How crowdsourced testing has changed the game for software companies

Twice the headache and half the quality. This is how a growing segment of the software industry has come to regard outsourcing, or as it’s often called, “offshoring.” Tired of being burned by deadline challenges, cultural barriers, inflexible contracts, hidden costs and a loss of control and quality, software professionals are abandoning offshore firms at a time when comprehensive testing coverage and app quality has never been more important.

With a rapidly growing number of connected devices operating under different conditions in different locations, more eyes than ever are on your app. Quality is no longer merely a gut check, it’s table stakes – your app has to work the first time and every time or you’ll suffer major consequences.

Yet traditional outsourcing isn’t equipped to solve these problems. Stagnant, stationary and inflexible, outsourcing firms aren’t set up to meet the new challenges of today’s apps economy. That’s why many companies large and small are turning to crowdsourcing companies that offer comprehensive app quality.

Applause enables companies to take a 360° approach to app quality. From unparalleled in-the-wild testing services to app quality tools for every stage of the app lifecycle, Applause fills the gaps traditional outsourcing can’t.

Here’s how outsourcing compares to Applause’s crowd-based model in terms of cost, real-world coverage, timeframe, cultural understanding, and several other factors.

Cost

The Problem with Outsourcing

Offshoring used to be a cost effective route to expanding your testing team, but the cost advantage is disappearing. Even with an offshore firm, companies often need someone internally not only to manage the outsourced team but to handle issues such as irrelevant or incorrect bugs.

The hidden costs of offshoring don’t remain hidden for long. Fixed contracts don’t take into account the downtime or intense testing phases of the modern software development life cycle. Negotiating overtime during peak testing can be costly and exhausting. Not to mention if your testing priorities change before your contract ends, you’ll spend significant time, energy and money to renegotiate the scope of work and get the offshore team re-focused.

The Applause Advantage

Applause allows you to test when you need it – on schedule or spur of the moment. For about the cost of a full time test engineer, you have access to dynamic testing to match your needs. Scale teams up and down as necessary and get access to experts when you need them most. In addition, Applause handles the intricacies of tester management, weeding out noise, tester payout and questions and even pre-triaging bugs to provide you with the most relevant and actionable intelligence.

Real-World Coverage

The Problem with Outsourcing

Does testing in a single offshore location provide enough real-world coverage? No. The increasing number of devices, carriers, operating systems, browsers and locations makes real-world testing outside the lab a necessity for a successful product launch. However, when companies offshore their testing, they’re typically only moving their lab to an offshore firm, meaning they still don’t have the real-world coverage they need. This often leads to the risk of real-world bugs going unnoticed. When it comes to finding bugs under true real-world conditions, offshoring or using an outsourcing company with testers in a single location isn’t a sufficient solution.

The Applause Advantage

The Applause global community of testers gives you access to a variety of devices, operating systems, carriers and more. This gives you an advantage no amount of lab-based testing can – it allows you to put your app through its paces under the same conditions it will face in the hands of your users. And with a community as large as ours, no testing requirement is too obscure. Whether you want to test on an older version of a browser or the latest (hard-to-get) device, the Applause community gives you the access you need. With real-world testing coverage from Applause, companies can launch apps that work as well in the hands of their end users as they do in the lab.

Time Frame

The Problem with Outsourcing

Testing requires fast communication, and with offshoring that is not always what you get. Time zone differences can push questions and answers days apart. If a problem is pushed back and forth, several days or even weeks might pass before a resolution is found. Some companies push their offshore tester(s) to match more of their own workday hours. However, this often puts offshore testers up late into the night, resulting in poor work quality due to exhaustion. And no matter what hours your testers keep, the team is likely still bound by set hours, making moving quickly even more difficult. The geographical divide of offshoring can make a fast-paced workflow nearly impossible.

The Applause Advantage

Applause has offices and testers around the globe, eliminating the communication lag caused by time zone differences. Companies get a dedicated project manager who is available at all times to answer questions or address concerns. Projects are also assigned a Test Team Lead (TTL) to help address tester questions and keep the work moving smoothly. Applause also enables the in-house QA manager to contact testers directly through an online platform – greatly improving the communication process. If a bug or survey response seems vague or out-of-scope – or if an urgent issue arises – your TTL will address it or you can communicate with the tester yourself.

Additionally, our testers work on their own hours, meaning your test cycle is not bound by traditional 9-5 schedules. Some Applause customers release a build on Friday and have results waiting for them on Monday, or even produce a daily build and have it tested while they’re home sleeping. Your 8-hour work day can effectively become 24 hours, and your 5-day work week can become 7 days just like that.

Cultural Understanding

The Problem with Outsourcing

Language and time zone differences can hinder effective communication, but so can the lack of cultural understanding. The daily life, schedules, holiday practices and meaning of words are vastly different from culture to culture. These are all things that can further complicate your work with offshore firms. Every country’s language, culture, currency, taxes, humor, entertainment and standards are different, and your testers need to have a deep knowledge of these factors to accurately test your app. This knowledge is highly specialized and a lack of understanding may result in software containing inaccuracies, which can confuse, offend, or drive away your users.

The Applause Advantage

The Applause global community of testers gives you easy access to native cultural knowledge. Apps can be tested in any language or culture by testers who truly know what they’re observing. Whether your app is designed for the US or Australia, France or Japan, Applause provides testers who are cultural natives to test your app. Selecting a team of professional testers who understand your product and the market it is designed for reduces inaccuracies and ultimately provides a better user experience.

In addition, if you’re releasing your app internationally, Applause can test it across locations around the globe. Customers can run complete Localization and Internationalization testing of their apps, verifying accuracy and context across currency conversions, dates, characters and other trouble areas. Because of our far-reaching model, you can achieve the same level of testing for all your markets without employing multiple companies or sacrificing quality.

Project Ramp Time

The Problem with Outsourcing

When you need testing coverage, you most likely need it fast. Increasingly, companies are finding that trying to outsource quickly is nearly impossible. From contract negotiations to salaries to tax forms, the paperwork is endless. Not to mention offshore firms often have to go out and find the people you need for your project, which means added time spent on recruitment and background checks. Alternately, you may have to wait for a testing team to become available. Special requests cost more and require time-consuming (and potentially expensive) recruiting.

The Applause Advantage

With Applause, companies can start almost immediately. Because Applause already has a wide-range of software testing expertise, we find the right testers in the right locations, with the right devices and other specific needs that you are looking for quickly. If we do need to recruit for a special requirement, we enlist our community’s help in filling the gap. The Applause Testing Services Dashboard also allows you to select favorite testers so you can build your dream team for each project. The flexibility of crowdsourcing has helped hundreds of companies ramp up their testing quickly in order to meet necessary deadlines.

The flexibility of crowdsourcing has helped hundreds of companies to scale their testing to meet their actual needs.

Control

The Problem with Outsourcing

Software companies that contract with an outsourcing firm often find that they have limited visibility into the testing process. If you are comfortable handing over all responsibility to an offshore team you can’t see, hear or even contact easily, this may not be a problem. But for the other 99% of us who want to maintain at least some control and visibility into the testing process, an offshoring firm might not be the right fit.

The Applause Advantage

Applause project managers are there to assist you every step of the way. However, it is the Applause customer that calls the shots – with the ability to upload test cases, define the scope of work, add lists of known bugs and review bugs for approval or rejection. For those companies that don’t have documentation, Applause can work with you to create it. With Applause, you can have as much or as little visibility and control as you want. The Applause Testing Services Dashboard was designed to give you an easy-to-consume snapshot of your app’s health. Bringing together all facets of app quality, the dashboard lets you see a broad overview of all activities or drill down to get more details about test cycles, bug reports, post-launch analytics and more. Coupled with real-time reporting and automatic pushes to your in-house bug tracking system, the dashboard makes managing app quality easy.

Adaptability

The Problem with Outsourcing

When confronted with sudden changes in their development cycle, companies face an even greater challenge when contracting with an outsourced testing firm. When the scope or direction of testing begins to deviate from the original vision, the outsourcing contract and team does not. To get the new testing coverage you need, you might have to pay extra for a new team, a new project or the expanded or changed scope. This makes it difficult for offshore firms to adapt to your evolving needs. Unless your app development and testing proceed like clockwork every time, exercise caution when considering an outsourcing firm.

Likewise, with outsourcing you are locked in a contract that gives you a set number of testers for a set amount of time. As any team can tell you, development and testing aren’t steady, predictable practices. Yet over the years offshoring has never made it easier to scale your efforts to meet the actual, fluctuating needs of your projects.

The Applause Advantage

With Applause, companies can alter their testing requirements at a moment’s notice. Because Applause already has a wide-range of expertise, we can easily accommodate changes without additional costs or delays. In addition, because your test cycles are monitored by an Applause project manager, you can be sure that changes in scope and coverage are implemented quickly. If your test cycle is not going as planned it can be paused, adjusted and restarted quickly and easily. If you need more coverage or more results, additional testers can be added with no hassle. The flexibility of crowdsourcing has helped hundreds of companies to scale their testing to meet their actual needs. Whether you need a large team to explore your new app or a few testers to perform regression testing on your website, Applause fits your needs, not ink on a contract. Simply put, Applause is designed for present-day software companies.

Move Beyond Testing

The Problem with Outsourcing

Offshore firms are one trick ponies. They offer testing services, and sometimes not even all the testing services you need. But in today’s apps economy, testing alone isn’t enough. Users have high expectations and the best apps – the apps that win – extend quality past QA and to every segment of the app lifecycle. Traditional outsourcing isn’t equipped to meet the increasing demands of app quality.

The Applause Advantage

While offshoring firms run tests, Applause gives you the tools and services you need to launch high quality apps every time. By combining access to world-renowned in-the-wild testing services, top app quality tools and post-launch analytics, Applause enables companies to take a 360° approach to app quality – ensuring their users have the best experience possible with every app and every update.

The Tale of the Tape: Applause vs. Offshoring

Ebook

To succeed today, you must find the right QA partner. While you have your share of options, there is only one clear choice in the end. See how your options stack up against one another.

READ NOW

You might also be interested in: