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QASource Blog The Pros and Cons of Offshore Software Testing

The Pros and Cons of Offshore Software Testing

Offshore QA | By Timothy Joseph | January 24, 2019

The Pros and Cons of Offshore Software Testing

Are your ambitions getting too big for your own resources?

Every successful software development company experiences growing pains once the technical needs of its projects exceed the expertise and basic workloads of its core staff. When this happens, it is tough to know where to turn for help without adding an unwanted spike to your budget. For years, many companies have turned to offshore software testing, with its promise of cheaper labor costs and a reputation for quality.

Offshore testing brings with it both advantages and disadvantages.

On one hand you can:

Employ domain expertise, conduct around-the-clock production, and enjoy the support of government and educational systems that prioritize QA testing excellence.

On the other hand, onboarding an offshore QA team can introduce language barriers and turnaround delays, each of which can cause unforeseen costs.

The best software testing firms act as partners, delivering offshoring’s benefits while steering you away from its disadvantages.

Considering Offshore Software Testing?

As with any enterprise, it is important that you find the right partner to share your QA load. In the right hands, we’re confident you can reap the rewards of offshore software testing without having to sacrifice the stability and quality of your product.

To help you make an informed decision, here are lists of the pros and cons you will have to keep in mind when considering an offshore team for your software testing.

Pros

  1. Domain expertise

  2. Round-the-clock production hours

  3. Labor savings

  4. Government support

  5. Nearshore alternatives

Cons

  1. Communication barriers

  2. Time zone differences

  3. Quality of work

  4. Hidden costs

Let us examine both sides of the argument, beginning with the positives.

The Advantages of Offshore Software Testing

Offshore software testing can be a powerful addition to your DevOps process. You should consider it an extension of your core team. An external partner can free up your internal resources, contribute domain expertise, and ultimately reduce your QA spending.

The key reason for our optimism is the significant progress many offshore software testing facilities have made over recent years.

Domain Expertise

Many offshore teams now have rich experience with the specific processes and technology of individual domains. Be it in financial, healthcare, retail, cybersecurity, or legal domains, you are likely to find an offshore partner that knows your field inside out. This domain expertise boosts productivity and increases ROI all around by:

  • Helping your team speak with the right terminology

  • Making it easier to view your product through the users’ eyes

  • Knowledge of critical tools and technologies

  • Knowing where to look for potential defects 

Domain expertise streamlines the onboarding process between you and your partner and can remove the hidden costs that lurk within less sophisticated arrangements.

Round-the-Clock Production Hours

The significant time difference between the US and the offshore software testing hubs of India and Southeast Asia can work in your favor. By working in partnership, you can use the 9- to 13-hour difference to create a 24/7 testing cycle. As your engineers at home finish their working day, colleagues offshore can pick up the slack. By embracing digital communications, you can build a never-ending production process that embraces the best forms of Agile testing.

Labor Savings

One of the most fundamental advantages to offshore software testing is the fact that US-based companies benefit from the difference of offshore labor costs. In fact, labor savings alone can produce savings of up to 50% on the overall QA process. Many offshore facilities now offer flexible pricing options that allow scaling and ongoing productions.

Government Support

The attractive nature of these offshore QA facilities has not been lost on local governments and educational institutions. The Indian government, for example, has named the IT sector among its priorities and has advocated for advanced STEM programs in schools. India graduates more than 1.5 million engineering graduates a year from more than 2,000 engineering schools—all of which results in a vast and sophisticated development talent pool and culture of IT leadership.

Nearshore Alternatives

However, you do not need to look that far to find expert QA facilities. Nearshoring alternatives have matured in countries such as Canada and Mexico. It is substantially less expensive to hire, train, and retain services in Mexico, and you can do so with less travel and time-zone issues than partnering across the Pacific Ocean.

Offshore software testing is not without its downsides. You should be aware of what can go wrong before you sign-up for an offshore partnership.

The Disadvantages of Offshore Software Testing

The majority of the challenges associated with offshore software testing are related to communication, which is a project management challenge for everyone, regardless of geography..The usual pitfalls of poor understanding and stilted workflows in internal projects can become exaggerated once we encounter natural language, culture, and technological differences.

Communication Barrier

The most obvious of these communications problems is the dreaded language barrier. An inability to engage in simple conversation obviously makes life hard once engineers and QA staff become engaged in everyday exchanges. You are unlikely to encounter the problem when dealing with India and Mexico-based facilities, because of their long experience in partnering with US-based clients.

Time Zone Differences

The very same time zone differences we listed as advantages above can also be hindrances. Being unable to work in the same hours can lead to asynchronized communication through static formats such as email and messaging. Waiting on responses and being unsure if your message has been received—much less understood—can lead to frustrations. Organized companies can get around the problem by scheduling regular face-to-face meetings over video conference or onsite visits, but it does take commitment and practice.

Quality of Work

This concern is something of a relic of the early days of offshore software testing, when the emphasis was on labor savings rather than high-quality work. Those days are largely behind us, especially in countries like India that take pride in their software expertise. However, when you cut corners vetting QA partners, you run the risk of a bugging final product. Do your research, and if possible seek out a QA partner that runs a hybrid of offshore/onsite software testing with a domestic base.

Hidden Costs

The communication barriers we mentioned above can be more than just inconveniences. They can cost you money. Unexpected delays due to slow turnarounds or misunderstood instructions may lead to additional labor costs. Then there is the additional pressure that gets placed on your production cycle once workflows become clogged.

Every problem, however, has a solution. We are confident that the key to maximizing the potential benefits of offshore software testing lies in finding the right QA partner.

Offshore Software Testing Can Work For You

Offshore software testing offers a unique set of advantages, and a common set of disadvantages.

The advantages center around employing the efficiencies of domain expertise, creating a 24/7 production schedule, reducing labor costs, and embracing the emphasis overseas institutions place on sophisticated IT training.

The disadvantages are mired in simple communication misunderstandings. Today’s digital age gives you access to communication technologies that can bridge most barriers—and you do not have to do it alone; many US-based QA professionals now have direct affiliations with offshore facilities.

QASource is a bridge between domestic and offshore software testing. We are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, just minutes from Silicon Valley’s tech giants and innovators, and we operate state-of-the-art facilities in India and Mexico. At QASource, you get all the efficiencies of offshore testing combined with the familiarity of a US team. Contact us today for a Free Quote, or call +1.925.271.5555 to get started.

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