Outsourcing--Testing Times

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  • was cited in the research was that testing was often left too late–49 percent of respondents alleged that testing was generally only conducted prior to go live in outsourcing projects. This could be highly detrimental to the business as any problems are only flagged up at the latest possible stage. This makes them extremely expensive to rectify. If problems are detected at an early stage, they can be corrected straight away minimising their effect on the contract overall.
  • Deadline pressure: suppliers are often under serious pressure in outsourcing contracts. Having to adhere to deadlines, fall within budget and meet stringent SLAs often means that testing takes a backseat. Pressure from the end user to push systems out on time, often means that testing is compressed into a reduced time period to decrease delays in implementation. Suppliers are also often paid to deliver on time–if they fail to do so, they forgo payment. How suppliers are incentivised to adhere to deadlines has to be carefully thought through, or the customer could have problems with what is delivered.

No blue print exists for any aspect of outsourcing as all projects are so completely different. It is the same for testing and quality assurance in the outsourcing space. With the nuances and particularities of these projects, every testing strategy should be designed with the project in mind. However, there are still some key considerations to bear in mind when approaching testing and quality assurance in the outsourcing environment.

  • Test with the business in mind: it is essential that all testing procedures are considered from the wider business spectrum–this will help to minimise risk at an early stage. From capacity testing to regression testing, every element of the testing strategy needs to be planned with the business in mind.
  • Testing as a strategic planning tool: as mentioned, all too often testing is left until too late in the outsourcing lifecycle. If it is used upfront, as a strategic planning tool, it will detect system flaws earlier and prevent bigger problems from occurring. Testing should be involved right from the outset.
  • Where the responsibility lies: the outsourcing environment can also cloud where the responsibility for testing lies. Should the end user rely on the supplier’s judgement? Or should the responsibility for testing lie with the end user? There is no definitive answer as no two projects are the same. As a customer, there is often a temptation to devolve all responsibility to the supplier–however this can leave the customer in a vulnerable position. The realms of responsibility must be decided at the outset, at the contractual level, and there should be secure testing procedures in place on both the end user's and supplier’s sides that are undertaken from the beginning of the project. This will ensure that problems are detected early on and the earlier they are spotted, the more easily and cheaply they can be rectified.

Another issue is at the end user site and the supplier site, who is responsible for overseeing and managing the testing and quality assurance procedures? Most organisations tend to employ a test manager–whilst it is recommended that there is a person or team solely responsible for testing, it is also essential that testing and quality assurance have the buy in from the wider outsourcing team and also from the board (from the end user organisation). It is imperative that testing and quality assurance are considered from the wider business perspective and to do this, strategic business input is required.

  • Define the business requirements: the primary bug bear for suppliers in the outsourcing environment is often that the customer's

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