Organizations look at two ways to reduce repetitive testing costs-automation and offshoring. Although either can work, combining these two approaches has the promise of even more savings to organizations by freeing up their employees for more creative testing. Because both automation and offshoring are complex operations in and of themselves, combining them adds more risks and challenges that can lead to disappointment and a "double backlash" instead of a "double benefit" if not implemented with proven approaches. Test automation pioneer Hans Buwalda shares his personal "adventures" with offshoring and outsourcing automated testing. Organized along major challenges he's faced-methodology, automation technology, cultural differences, long distances, and hard to deal with time differences-Hans presents a set of failure patterns that are common in offshoring and offers practical suggestions for how to overcome them.
In large outsourced projects, the contractual aspects of testing are often poorly defined even though testing may be half the overall project cost. Why is this? Test activities may be split between the development organization, customer, and test outsourcing partners. When things go wrong, the test process and the contractual obligations relating to testing will come under close scrutiny. Unfortunately, many projects get their contracts wrong with regard to testing. In Paul Gerrard's experience, few organizations’ contract and legal experts know how to structure a contractual testing schedule that is fair, unambiguous, explicit, and comprehensive. As testers, we may need to help our own “experts.” Paul describes the critical aspects of a contract that must be included to ensure supplier obligations for testing are documented and will be met.
Test managers often choose solutions to problems without sufficient analysis, resulting in a cover-up of the symptom rather than a solution to the underlying problem. Later, the problem may surface again in a different disguise, and we may mishandle it again, just as we did initially. Alon Linetzki describes a simple process you can use to identify the root causes of problems and create an appropriate solution to eliminate them. Alon shows how he enhanced the classic root cause analysis method to create an approach to finding insidious problems in software and processes. His method includes ways to differentiate symptoms from problems, understand the connection between them, and determine the strength and direction of that connection. Alon illustrates this method with data from two testing projects and shares the lessons learned along the way.
Simple, robust method for determining underlying problems
Efficiency and effectiveness are the cornerstones of successful quality assurance and test automation effort. Jeff Beange describes how RBC Financial Group successfully implemented a quality assurance and automation outsourcing engagement, using a blended onshore/offshore approach. He describes the details of the engagement model and outlines the risks they encountered. Jeff describes their mitigation strategy, governance structure, and the metrics used to evaluate their implementation. Learn a communication strategy and automation framework you can use to implement automation using an outsourcing partnership. Find out what setup is required before any outsourcing model can be successful: detailed requirements, a complete set of test data, and a test lab that is accessible to all. Jeff describes the common pitfalls of offshore engagements and the three categories of outsourcing problems-people, process, and governance.
Ten years of experience with test outsourcing at Polteq Lucent Technologies has shown that it can be successful. However, on the way to success, many-and sometimes painful-lessons were learned. Kees Blokland shares the most common test outsourcing mistakes others have made with the hope that you will not repeat them. One key mistake is the expectation of large and rapid cost savings-many that have been seduced by this temptation have not been successful. Another mistake is to believe that the outsourcing vendor actually knows how to test your applications-just because they are far away doesn't mean they know your business. Kees presents a full list of outsourcing mistakes and discusses how you can prevent them from happening-or repair the damage if mistakes have already occurred. If you're planning to outsource testing or are in the middle of an outsourced project, you will find Kees' insight very useful.
Large organizations may have the resources for expensive, big-bang offshore outsourcing projects. But what should small- and medium-sized organizations do when tasked with outsourcing? Based on his experiences, Uttiya Dasgupta describes a usable and inexpensive process for planning an offshore outsourcing strategy for small- to medium-sized development organizations. This crawl-walk-run strategy starts with very small projects and moves to increasingly more complex ones, supported by adequate preparation for each stage. Beginning with a vision of the "run" stage, teams plan the first stages to test out processes and ensure the cultural and technology fit between the internal and outsourced organizations. Uttiya shares his insights for successful offshore outsourcing projects and, especially, the signs and metrics that tell you when you are ready to move from crawling to walking-to running.
Global teams are increasingly becoming a reality with advancement in networking and internet technologies. You may have part of your team on west coast, east coast, in Europe or Asia. Although global teams seem to be a great way to bring diverse talent and to improve time-to-market, many projects actually fail to deliver on promises. An exception is the MSN Messenger team. After first setting reasonable goals and roadmaps for each team(s) and selecting projects that were amenable to remote work then hired the right talent or vendor resources that could support long-term project requirements. Samir Shah shares the techniques, especially those related to communications, that they employ at each stage of the effort to help them succeed. Samir describes the data they capture and the set of metrics they use to keep them on track. Find out what it takes to scale your team to be a successful global team.
You are asked to put together a QA group in India that will work in tandem with your US team to provide twenty-four hour support for a global financial company. And what did Judy Hallstrom, Manager of Testing Services, and Indian Project Manager, Ravi Sekhar Reddy, and their group accomplish? The successful implementation of a fully integrated QA function, from scratch, in less than one year with minimal infrastructure. Walk through the challenges and triumphs as they built their unit from the ground up with no outsourcing service company support. With obstacles ranging from leased equipment, inadequate infrastructure, and shared office space to training issues, visas, Indian Customs, and much more, Judy and Ravi have seen and overcome them all. Now, two years later, they have a global QA team with processes that meet industry recognized quality standards.
Working with a sourcing partner vs. going it alone
While some outsourced test projects have delivered measurable business benefits, many others have not lived up to expectations. A new approach-Testing Centers of Excellence (TCOE)-can help outsourced test groups deliver improved business value by leveraging their work and work products across multiple client projects. Anand Iyer shares his insight on implementing client-focused TCOEs and analyzes the factors that influence success. Learn to objectively measure the potential benefits and real costs of test outsourcing to determine if outsourcing is providing business value. Find out how Testing Centers of Excellence can improve the ROI on testing whether you plan to outsource and not.
Although offshoring is becoming a business necessity, we've all heard the nightmare scenario. A company wants to save money by using lower-priced engineers in foreign locales for testing projects, but the quality and management problems are so extreme that the company winds up wishing it had just kept the testing in house. Alym Rayani shares the concrete steps you can take to ensure a good outsourcing experience: determining what should be outsourced, selecting a vendor, handling relations between cultures and leaders, and much more. Find out about the critical project management skills, technical infrastructure, and over-site responsibilities that you will need to develop and maintain internally. Learn how to take these crucial steps and keep the migraines at bay.