For today’s fast-moving product company focused on rapid customer acquisition, grabbing market share, and rapid growth, efficiency is key. As CEOs and CTOs press their teams for cost-effective initiatives that support these goals, one answer is sure to be heard loudly and frequently: Automation!
Today, it seems like every app connects and integrates with the next. We can check out via PayPal, login via Facebook, and share content across all of our social media platforms at once. This interconnectedness helps people get more done in less time, leads to rapid growth for relatively young product companies, and creates a supportive ecosystem of well-crafted, well-tested applications. And all of it thanks to the essential bond, the tie that binds: the API (application programming interface).
Today, product companies are striving to lead in four key areas: Innovation, Efficiency, Accuracy, and Speed. Before automation technology was as common as it is today, CTOs, product managers, and engineering leads were slowed down by repetitive manual tasks — becoming truly efficient and innovative was a distant goal, something they could only discuss in abstract terms. Automation has put more power in the hands of developers, QA engineers, and the people who manage them.
Market competition and an emphasis on great user experience drives innovation. And today, companies are innovating at breakneck speed. As product and service companies scale up their development teams to embark on new, attractive features and match the pace of their respective markets, they also scale up their QA teams to match the increased workload.
Or do they?
If there’s one thing startups know all too well, it’s that speed to market is crucial to a company’s success. However, customers today are increasingly unwilling to put up with faulty products and buggy apps, so developers cannot afford not to test. So how can an organization choose which to invest in, speed or quality?
For many U.S.-based software product companies, outsourcing is a cost-effective way to retain top talent at an affordable rate. The IT sector is booming in places like India, Mexico, and South America, and companies that aren’t quite ready to hire on an in-house QA team often meet their needs with an offshore provider. Inevitably, challenges arise. How do the teams stay in communication? How does the outsourced QA team learn the company, product, and working culture? In short, how do we make this arrangement work?
What happens when you can’t accurately measure the cost, effectiveness, and progress of a software testing project? A lot of less-than-ideal things. Projects can balloon in cost, creep in scope, fall in quality, or run on for what seems like forever. Without defined metrics attached to each QA project, they can get out of control -- and this scenario is a nightmare for both the product company and their team and the testing provider and their engineers.
Short answer: yes, definitely. The Agile method is quickly becoming the preferred way of working at today’s most successful product companies. Agile teams are, by their nature, cross-functional. They’re composed of technical team members, such as developers, as well as non-technical folks, such as business analysts. Together, these teams have the combined knowledge and skill required to produce an exceptional product. They share their achievements and progress with each other, anticipate any potential roadblocks, and plan accordingly to help deliver a high-quality product.
One of the key challenges of working with an outsourced QA partner is aligning a new, offshore team with your product, procedures, and larger business objectives. Without the proper transfer of knowledge from the customer to the offshore team, engineers will be testing blindly. This leads to process slow-downs, inflated project budgets, and even lost contracts.