How to Choose a Software Testing Company
Factors that will help you pick the right outsourced software testing company for you
Need some help with your test efforts and are evaluating different software testing outsourcing companies? Like all things worthwhile, it will take some effort to choose a software testing company that will enable you to achieve better business outcomes.
Having been in the software testing outsourcing industry for over a decade, we have come to know the questions we should ask a prospective client and what questions they should ask us to know there is a good fit.
For anyone doing research on software testing outsourcing or trying to compile a shortlist of software testing companies, these are some of the fundamental things to take into consideration to guide your search.
Know Your Criteria
What Kind of Engagement Are You Looking For?
You may be looking to hire a tester or team of testers for a short, one-off project, or augment your team or completely outsource all of your testing. All of these options will influence the duration of the potential relationship. Some software testing companies are used to doing small projects for one-time clients and others will be more selective, usually preferring not to take on short-term projects.
What kind of role do you want the testing company to take on? Do you want them to consult you and advise you on your test strategy or are you just looking for more “players” to join the team to carry out your own game plan?
Make sure to have a good idea about:
- The duration of the relationship (short vs long term)
- What engagement model you are looking for (staff augmentation vs managed testing)
- Which type of services you need (test execution, consultation, etc)
What Do You Need in a Software Testing Company?
Now that you know what kind of engagement you are hoping to start, it’s important to be clear on the most fundamental characteristics of your ideal software testing company:
You can find a software testing company consisting of just a couple of employees to several thousand. Is it an independent, pure-play boutique that you want to work with or a large outsourcing firm that offers several services besides just testing?
Onshore, nearshore, or offshore? Do the testers need to be in the same office or city as you? What about country? Can they be in a nearby continent or halfway around the world? Each option will come with its own price and level of quality.
As mentioned above, the location will greatly influence the rate. For example, a tester in San Francisco will have much higher rates than a tester with the same qualifications in South America, Europe, or Asia. Additionally, the skill level of the tester(s) you are looking for will affect rates. If you want an expert in their field of testing, they will command higher rates, of course, than a junior tester.
Do the testing company’s values align with yours? Do they have them written somewhere? (Check out our Manifesto!) How do they treat their employees? What about their preferred communication style and collaboration? Do they work in the same context as you (like Agile)?
Do the testers in the outsourcing company speak your language fluently? Are they able to communicate quickly or in real time with you? How much of a lag in communication can you handle?
Evaluate the Potential Fit
Once you’ve given the previous questions some consideration and you’ve found some companies that meet your criteria, it’s time to narrow down the list with the following considerations.
What Makes Them Unique?
Can you tell what makes the company different from others? Does their offering speak to you and your needs? Do they care about the same things as you do? Some testing companies may focus on providing the cheapest rates and fastest turnaround, while others may emphasize their ability to work in Agile contexts, or maybe some are better at certain types of testing, like security testing, than others.
For example, at Abstracta, what makes us unique is that we are a group of developers who believe in testing. We place heavy emphasis on introducing sophisticated engineering and automation processes into testing and the software development life cycle in order to increase product quality and reduce time to market for our clients.
What Others Have to Say
How often do you try a new restaurant without first checking its Google or Yelp reviews?
If we are that careful when it comes to who prepares our food, then we definitely need to be careful about who is testing our software! It’s always important to look for any social proof that can be found for each company.
First, you should be able to find testimonials and reviews on the company’s own website, but don’t forget to then move onto other third-party review sites like Clutch.co or find relevant articles.
Clutch is a highly reputable review site for software testing providers as the process for leaving a review is lengthy and requires more effort than your average review site, which helps to ensure that each review is legitimate. Clutch even manually verifies each review before publishing it.
Testing Specialties and Domain Expertise
Not all software is the same. The risks, technologies, and timelines that teams deal with vary greatly by business and industry. For example, software used for healthcare requires (amongst many things) an understanding of compliance issues and extensive security testing.
Check to see if the software testing company has experience working for organizations that are similar to yours or from the same sector for added confidence in their capabilities.
Furthermore, maybe your aim is to hire a company to help you build a test automation framework. Do some digging to see if they have any case studies that show they have done it in the past. You can look on their website, or again, read the case study style reviews on Clutch.
There are many areas of testing, so most testing companies will have strengths in different ones. If a company professes to be 100% experienced in testing for all aspects of software quality, run!
Technology and Toolbelt
Something not to forget is to check or ask the company directly if they have experience with the testing tools you use. If you’re unsure about which to use, ask if they can do an assessment and give you a good recommendation.
It’s unrealistic for a testing company to have knowledge of every single testing tool on the market but, keep this in mind:
Fortunately, if a tester has experience, for example, with one kind of cross browser testing tool, it will not be too difficult for them to learn how to use another.
Bonus Qualities to Look for in a Testing Company
So far, we have listed quite a lot of considerations for your search. If you want to be even more selective, here are some additional things to look for in a good testing company:
- Investment in research and development of testing tools and contributions to the open source community
- Leaders who speak at conferences and share their knowledge with the community
- Organization of their own meetups and/or conferences
- Philanthropy (participation in non-profit organizations, days for giving back, etc)
- Sophisticated and highly selective recruitment process
- Ample employee training opportunities and career planning
- Multiple, strategic locations
- Flexibility to travel for in-person onboardings, training, workshops, etc
In the end, this is not an exhaustive list of questions and considerations, but I hope it helps you know how to choose a software testing company that is best for you.
If you are still curious about how a software testing partner can work with you, my colleague wrote a post that I highly recommend, “Getting Started with Outsourced Software Testing”.