Offshore, onshore and in-house – the evolution of software testing
by David Hallam, director, NCC Group.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
The vast majority of organisations across the globe heavily rely on software and applications to carry out their day-to-day operations. The smooth running of this software is something that cannot be taken for granted, especially when the consequences are considered. Not only can disruption heavily impact on a company’s ability to engage in its core activities, flawed or dysfunctional software can also lead to breaches in security.
This is the enduring relationship between software testing and information security. Without stable, quality software, chances of a security breach markedly increase. In short, software testing is a crucial part of the software development and update cycle.
Several different methods have been used by businesses to test their software – and there has been a gradual movement from one to the next.
One approach is to carry out all software testing in-house. This has its benefits, as the company has complete control over the process, but from an economic perspective, many organisations cannot employ a complete team of dedicated software testers, particularly during periods of high demand. An alternative tactic used by many companies is to appoint an independent testing firm, or freelance contractors to perform the testing at the client organisation’s offices, either independently or alongside their own testers.
This was followed by complete offshore outsourcing of the process, to firms with a dedicated workforce based overseas, where the process could be carried out using more cost-efficient labour. However, there are disadvantages associated with transferring such a sensitive process so far away, with regards to quality control and communication across what can be large time zone differences.
This gradual trend from one method to the next was predominantly driven by a desire to reduce outlay, while still ensuring rigorous testing.
It is the most recent technique, however, that has managed to combine the price reduction of international outsourcing, with the control and efficiency that comes with doing things a little closer to home. Software testing can now be undertaken by testing firms, remotely on their own site here in the UK. This ‘middle ground’ gives companies all the benefits of bringing contractors in-house, but without the cost of having them working on-site. Allowing assurance firms to work at their own offices significantly lowers costs, as work can be delegated to more testers meaning a more efficient and effective service.
As with any outsourcing, it’s essential to strike the balance between quality and cost – and this is an ideal halfway house for software testing. Organisations can keep expenses down, but ensure a professional and thorough service, all the while maintaining an element of control that is normally only associated with an in-house approach. It’s a method that’s well suited to software testing, but can surely also provide lessons to other business sectors as to the advantages of successful outsourcing.