Considering Offshore Software Testing? There’s a Better Solution for Your Business

[article]
Summary:
Offshoring isn’t going away. But maybe we can be more intelligent about how we do it. Margaret Dineen has some ideas about how not to offshore and she shares them with us today.

When I hear people talk about their plans to offshore software testing because it’s a separate function and is too costly, it both confuses me and makes me a little bit sad. I believe successful projects require collaborative development (and to me, collaborative development includes testing), and I really question the meaning of cost reduction. I don’t understand how losing valuable business knowledge and loyalty can be considered a cost-saving measure.

I absolutely love working with people. I love the daily interactions, the relationships we form, and the experiences we share in the workplace. I love working with people who know the business inside and out, the people who understand not just the business rules, but also the reasons they were introduced in the first place. They understand how customers are using the product, and they understand business value.

If I asked you about the most successful project you’d ever worked on, I’m willing to guess that you’d talk about the people on the project, the great communication that existed among the team members, and the respect you had for those people. You might talk about challenges along the way that the team worked together to overcome, or about the fact that everyone wanted the project to be successful so they went that little bit further to make it a reality.

With a successful project, there’s a magical combination of ingredients that take the project from average to wonderful. The energy, the relationships, and the knowledge gained continue long after the project has been deployed. If we can try to understand what those key ingredients were, we can harness them to facilitate positive change from within.

Kaisen Consulting carried out a survey across a wide range of industry sectors, including retail, utilities, financial services, leisure, IT, medical, accountancy, and consultancy, to see what makes people feel either good or bad at work. The key findings are as follows:

  • Motivation will suffer if the emotional dimension is ignored.
  • Organizations need to invest in building their teams.
  • Recognition is fuel for motivation.
  • Managers make the difference.
  • Business success and customer satisfaction barely featured as motivational factors.

In terms of business value and cost savings, I’m not qualified to tell you in dollars or in percentages what this means. Nor can I put a value on the benefits of having a motivated team who wants to work together and pull out all the stops in order to get something good deployed. I have no idea how to put a value on an organization with a high rate of staff retention, high staff morale, and a real desire to continually challenge themselves.

Business value is not realized by cost reductions. Focusing primarily on cost reductions is likely to provide only short-term benefits. People who have been involved in cost-saving exercises before will automatically associate it with being asked to do more with less, to increase their workload, possibly to reduce their staff, and to increase their stress level. It’s also a heads-up to update a CV and start looking elsewhere.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if employees are just doing the minimum required and feel insecure about their jobs, then productivity is reduced. (David Bolchover calls these people “the living dead”!)

User Comments

1 comment
T. Pot's picture

Agile values close, frequent, face-to-face communications.  Therefore, we should never see any company using Agile and outsourcing development and/or testing, right?  Oops!  We see it all the time.  And if they offshore the work, then you've got language, cultural and time zone barriers making things even worse.

The power of saving a buck - never underestimate it.  When companies "embrace" Agile and then outsource offshore, they just want to save a buck even though the project is likely to tank.  Actions speak louder than words.

August 1, 2013 - 10:49pm

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, TechWell.com is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!