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QA Outsourcing Trends to Expect this Quarter

Author: Gretel Digo

Posted: April 28, 2016

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Information technology (IT) has become the backbone of business operations.  Organizations are increasingly investing in IT infrastructure, which is boosting the demand for high-quality software and applications.  Product quality is a huge differentiator and closely related to the bottom line; as consumer demand for instant gratification and better apps and rises every day, companies are looking at several methods to release more products that are also high quality. 

Like in previous years, many firms continue to turn to software quality assurance and testing providers for help.  According to a recent study published by TechNavio, the global outsourced software testing market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.25 percent from 2015 to 2019.  Here are other trends that will impact QA Outsourcing this quarter and the rest of the year:

  1. Skills shortage.
  2. According to a 2015 study, 82 percent of IT employees and 90 percent of executives say that recruiting technical and software engineering staff is one of their greatest challenges.  The U.S.  Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in five years, there will be 1 million more computer-science related jobs than college graduates to fill them.  The pressure on companies to address the skills shortage and fill open positions quickly is expected to intensify this year.

    Analysts predict that web application developers, front-end web developers, data analysts, network engineers, QA analysts/testers and software engineer roles will be the hardest to fill in 2016.  Technology professionals are always in demand, but specialists that are experienced in certain areas will be the most sought after because they are responsible for creating the organization’s foundation for success.  Compared to new graduates, for example, experienced QA professionals are better equipped to speed up time to market, boost productivity and meet target goals.

    In response to the continuing shortage of software engineers and QA professionals, businesses have come up with several alternative solutions.  One is to partner with local educational institutions to fill entry-level and career advancement needs.  Another solution is to outsource QA and testing to third party specialists.  Many companies are choosing to work with external software development firms that specialize in app development or QA and testing to access expertise. 

    For example, a healthcare provider that needed a user experience specialist interviewed candidates for the position, but ended up outsourcing the job because it couldn’t find the person with the right skills This year, companies will continue to outsource specialized QA and testing roles to local, near-shore and offshore providers to access experienced professionals and fill critical positions quickly.  Outsourced QA and testing also help reduce costs and improve process efficiency.

  3. Shrinking QA teams.
  4. Like the rest of the software development industry, quality assurance is changing so rapidly that QA teams are expected to take on more responsibilities, learn to use new tools and develop new methods of executing testing platforms in 2016 and beyond.  According to one analyst, the disruption will have some negative impact in the beginning.  Executives are expected to prune internal QA teams due to automation initiatives and the outsourcing of manual testing processes.  However, automated testing still requires a talented QA team that understands how to execute the testing process effectively. 

  5. Crowdsourced testing
  6. One of the drivers of outsourcing growth is the popularity of crowdsourced testing, a collective approach that involves several people in different locations working on the same project.  Crowdsourced testing will continue to be popular in 2016 and the next few years because the process provides real-time feedback to developers and management as well as insights into product quality throughout the software testing lifecycle.

  7. Industry-specific testing.
  8. Industry-specific testing refers to testing services aligned with vertical specializations.  Some large outsourcing providers already offer software testing and validation services designed for industries like healthcare, banking, insurance and retail.  Industry-specific testing is another trend that will drive the growth of outsourced testing from 2015 to 2019.

  9. Increased complexity of applications.
  10. Applications get more complex by the day in terms of volume, the number of components used and the nature of the applications.  QA teams have to deal with more complicated user interfaces (UIs) and compressed backend and customer-facing functionalities that.  QA teams are also struggling with shrinking times between app releases and mobile versions of web apps and native mobile apps that require changes to the existing testing structure.  To address the rising complexity, QA teams need better tools, automation, cloud-based QA infrastructure and more comprehensive testing processes.  These capabilities can be expensive and difficult to build for many firms, however.  This is why companies will continue to outsource some or all QA work to third party specialists in 2016.

  11. More bugs.
  12. An industry expert said that he is seeing a trend of a greater percentage of bugs for every release due to the accelerated release process.  The frantic push to meet deadlines has led to lower quality products for many firms.  Fixing errors is expensive, and it gets even more taxing if the error slips through to production.  As they produce more apps, companies should expect to deal with more bugs.  Stringent QA procedures and better tools are needed to improve quality.  Outsourcing to experienced QA specialists is a cost-effective way to increase the quality of releases and speed to market at the same time.  Companies will continue to outsource QA and testing for this reason, especially those that lack resources or an effective in-house testing team.

  13. Management support and role of QA leadership.
  14. Apps are close to the bottom line, and management increasingly feels the negative impact of poor quality software when end-users vent their frustrations about apps on social media.  As mistakes large and small become more visible, corporate has no choice but to ramp up quality.  This year will witness greater focus on QA process improvements whether done in-house or outsourced to a third party development firm.

    2016 will also see the growing role of QA leadership.  IT departments usually have a hold of the QA budget, but the final purchasing decision may be deferred to QA leaders as their role becomes more strategic in terms of product direction.  In the coming years, QA leaders are expected to make recommendations and decisions about QA tools and how they are used.

  15. Shift from QA to QE.
  16. Quality assurance will start to shift towards quality engineering (QE) this year, driven in part by mobile use and consumer expectations of high-quality apps and faster releases.  Quality engineering is focused on architecture and strategy instead of just specific testing.  The QE approach involves greater collaboration among members of the development team, with each member a part of the quality assurance process. 

    Because of its comprehensive nature, QE is able to view the entire flow of code.  This allows the team to facilitate communication between IT and the development team, help developers identify bugs before release and become more strategic.  QA teams reverse into the code so frequently that they have a better understanding of how it works than developers who often see only pieces of the stack.  With quality engineering in place, QA testers can leverage their holistic knowledge of the code to help the broader team address issues like poor performance.  In the coming years, firms that want a cost-effective approach to QE will partner with third party specialists to achieve their goals.

  17. QA moves up the pipeline.
  18. Next year, QA is expected to move to the front line with a continuous integration (CI) environment.  This will allow front-end developers to run functional tests quickly and have their own sandbox to test compiled blocks of code before they are sent to the shared environment.  Testing pieces of code in this way allows QA teams to catch errors faster and make bugs found during the end-to-end testing phase easier to fix.  Because the bit of code is still fresh in the developers’ minds and they know how it’s supposed to work, they can identify bugs more easily when tested separately from the stack.

  19. Automation
  20. While manual testing remains the norm, the number of automated test cases is rising every year.  Many analysts believe that all testing will be automated in a few years.  In 2016, more companies will realize the benefits of automation as it becomes a key indicator of testing efficiency.  Every member of the development team will want to know how automation works and what tools can be used if the company is not already using it.  Automation will impact manual testing in a positive way, as QA teams focus on exploratory testing instead of testing common functionalities that ought to be automated. 

    Execution of automated testing is the big challenge that companies face.  Some firms start with a pilot that automates the testing of one or two key functionalities (usually standard functionalities) of the application.  A bug is introduced and the effort cost of testing is measured and compared to a manual test with the same issue.  The goal of the pilot is to demonstrate that automation will catch more errors in less time.  Automation requires the right tools, delivery methodology, processes and skilled QA professionals.  Firms that lack these resources will partner with specialists in this area to improve efficiency.

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