Managing outsourced quality assurance teams

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Business leaders like to be in control of every aspect of their operations, but if any element is outsourced, that sense of governance becomes much more difficult to maintain. Outsourcing can be appealing to organizations looking for talent at reasonable costs - it just takes significant planning to pull off successfully. When a team is in a different location from the company, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome. We will look at what some of the biggest issues are and how you can appropriately manage an outsourced quality assurance team.

Obstacles of outsourcing
While outsourcing can have a lot of advantages for businesses, the number of roadblocks can be intimidating for many enterprises. Here are the biggest challenges to prepare for:

  • Information sharing: When you don't see individuals every day, it can often be easy to forget to relay important messages. Communication in this situation is imperative, as it could affect the overall operation of the application. As soon as a request is given, there should be seamless transfer of knowledge to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project proceeds as expected. This will eliminate any redundancies and lower the overall development cost.
  • Engagement: Many outsourced teams have a difficult time becoming personally involved with their projects. This will also affect their ability to collaborate effectively with other teams in the business, ultimately hurting program quality. Organizations must have a strategy to keep these individuals motivated and provide them with the tools to succeed.
  • Technology/skills: An outsourced team may use different pieces of technology or have skills separate from what the organization was looking for. For example, if the company really wants to move to agile software development, but the outsourced group still uses waterfall methods, that could create problems down the road for their software development initiatives. Similarly, the business must ensure that the outsourced individuals have the skills necessary to meet corporate goals and spur innovation through their app testing.

How to regain control
Although total governance of outsourced assets won't be possible, there are still some things that organizations can do to take control of these teams and ensure that they're fulfilling business objectives. Australian outsourcer Beepo suggested a consistent schedule for gathering feedback and using technology like the cloud and test management tools. Let's dissect each of these ideas.

Many outsourced teams are often left by the wayside when it comes to communication. This can reasonably lead to mistakes being made and leave the members feeling apathetic toward their work. However, by setting up regular video conferences and requesting feedback, outsourced individuals can feel empowered to express their opinions and become a larger part of their projects. This will also help build trust and motivate teams to collaborate more.

Using tools like test management and the cloud can also be helpful when working with an outsourced team due to the fact that they provide a singular platform for all users. This means that the outsourced and in-house teams can be working on the same project at the same time, with any changes being made in real time. This will not only reduce redundancies, but it creates accountability and ensures that tasks are being addressed according to their priority.

Considerations to make when outsourcing
Whether you're looking to outsource, or simply make your outsourced team better, there are some key items to address. Ashok Mani from AppLabs noted that organizations must look into a provider's engagement models, mobilization efforts, communication plans, security and scalability. These elements will be essential to clear up before trying to manage a team.

"While organizations are deriving value from outsourcing software developmentoutsourced software testing will maximize returns from their investments and provide the right level of objectivity and rigor required to create a high-quality product," Mani stated. "If an independent QA and testing service provider is chosen whose focus is on ensuring quality products/systems are implemented, benefits will be fully maximized."

Outsourcing a quality assurance team is going to have a few challenges for businesses. But by preparing for these obstacles, they will be able to manage the outsourced group more effectively. Having a communication plan and technology available will be essential to working well with the team and improving development operations.

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