The term Global Village looked new in the past and came to describe the removal of geographical boundaries, especially in the era of mass media and the Internet. Today it already seems obvious to us that a project (not necessarily in the high-tech industry) might import raw materials from China, use components manufactured in the United States and Germany, and be assembled in Japan. Geographical barriers are already removed for software projects that, for example, accept the requirements from the US product team, develop the software in the UK, and send it to India for testing.
Pro’s and Con’s of Offshore Software Testing
The decision to outsource software testing to an offshore team takes into account several considerations.
The main obstacle in offshore testing is literally, the team being offshore. It’s true, we have communication channels like Skype, and other software, allowing chats in text, audio or video but still, it’s hard to compare to simply walking to the neighboring office or cubicle and actually talking to the tester.
Also, as Agile and Scrum methods are relied on more and more, using an offshore testing team might be a challenge since a stand-up meeting in Skype is just not that intuitive (and sometimes impossible because of the time difference) and integrating the testers might be complex and takes effort and patience.
Another possible issue is language and local culture differences. Most workers do know basic English, but still getting used to reading documents and emails with a lot of grammar mistakes or with phrases you don’t understand can get annoying.
Still, there are some benefits here. Most of the time, development or testing are outsourced because of cost considerations. So, sure, in some countries, the cost for testing or development is less than other countries, but that’s not necessarily the only benefit.
Working with an outsource company, you won’t need to manage the recruitment process, which can be tedious and hard, as the outsource company will take care of that for you.
In addition, for countries like Israel where our development center resides, whose working days are Sunday-Thursday, having a testing team that works on Friday and part of Saturday is a big plus as you can have code ready for testing on Thursday, go for your weekend, and come back next week with the feature already tested.
For conclusion, a few tips for working with offshore testing teams:
- Make sure there are direct lines of communication between the testing team and everyone else (development and product teams).
- Make sure you maintain everyday contact with the offshore testing team, like you would do when they are on site.
- Always make sure the testers are in the loop. They need to stay on top of issues and get updated on every change made during the design and development stages. Make them feel like part of the team and inspire them to work for the good of the project, not just their paycheck.
- Encourage your offshore team to make suggestions to the work process and the product in general, making sure their voice is heard.
- The work tasks have to be understood, especially for complex features. One way to try and ensure it is allowing the offshore team to repeat the workflow described in the feature to make sure they got it right.