The Challenge of In-House Testing and Quality Assurance
While the importance of testing and quality assurance is a growing focus for the IT department, it is accompanied by an increasing pressure to deliver more functionality and scalability with less money and resources, as well as technology innovations, such as cloud, and investment in new systems. Maintenance of existing and legacy systems must be closely managed and can be costly, but together with the complexity of additional technology platforms, such as new interactive Web services, this puts a greater strain on IT resources. The wealth of technology now available to businesses, whether smaller-sized firms or multi-national companies, can result in uncertainty even in the most mature of IT departments!
Organizations vary considerably in how they assign responsibility for quality assurance and testing. In some cases, it is the combined responsibility of a group or simply a single individual. Others employ project teams that include a mix of testers and developers who work closely together, with the overall process monitored by project managers. The appropriate composition of the testing team will depend on what best fits an organization's size, business structure, service portfolio and industry sector.
Even though testing has raised its professional profile in recent years, it can still be perceived as fragmented, inadequately controlled and often offering poor value for money. Recent research indicates that less than half of all projects finish on time or within budget, and often fail to meet all the intended business goals and requirements. In addressing these issues, there are many factors to take into consideration. Few businesses actually have an accurate understanding of their own current testing costs because they are not separately measured or controlled. This is compounded by a shortage of key quality assurance and testing skills; this lack of knowledge within a business can reduce the effectiveness of any testing programs. When it comes to resourcing of testing, businesses must decide whether they could achieve greater value by committing to a fully scalable outsourcing operation through an independent provider or manage the range of testing operations in-house.
The Outsourced Testing Services Landscape
Independent industry analysts have predicted that the worldwide software testing market could be worth more than $11.2 billion USD by the year 2013. Testing is becoming undoubtedly a very significant market and one of the fastest growing segments within IT services, demonstrating the increased demand for managed quality assurance and testing services from businesses everywhere.
In choosing to outsource their testing functions, organizations must first decide whether to outsource the full testing process, delivered and managed, to a specialist vendor or to adopt a self-service, on-demand approach to buying the resources, time and skills to meet their ad hoc and probably less predictable testing requirements. Either way, they will need a strategic quality assurance partner, with the appropriate expertise and ability to guide them through the best approach to take, to meet their need for streamlined application testing.
Testing service providers that are predominantly based offshore can certainly offer a low-cost base, but they often lack the ability to provide the best service by managing effectively the onshore client relationships-whether for cultural reasons or inflexible processes. Similarly, while regional testing specialist providers may have the local knowledge and presence necessary to form closer working relationships, they are held back by the relatively small scale of their operation, difficulties in operating globally and lower levels of in-depth sector-specific knowledge-often a prerequisite for clients in certain sectors, such as financial services. In addition, some of the larger IT systems integrators also offer testing services, but due to the sheer size and scale of these providers' portfolios, they have a limited focus on testing as a dedicated and expert discipline and often lack the necessary levels of specialist testing resources.
Quality Assurance-A Key to Business Success
This new decade is time for looking ahead rather than behind us at the difficulties of the last eighteen months. Challenging times really are opportunities for companies to readdress their priorities and aim for new goals. IT testing can ensure that launching new offers and services, especially in the online environment, is seamless and controlled for customers. Companies today have a better understanding that software and application management and development are just as important from a business perspective as they are from a technical one-they provide the foundations for an organization's core offering and ultimately, its brand and reputation.
Businesses require a strategic testing and quality assurance partner that can enable them to maximize the return on investment in their IT systems using a proven, structured approach to software testing. They need quality assurance that delivers the systems and applications required, driving faster time-to-market and significant cost efficiencies on every IT project. They should settle for nothing less.