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As a software development director or manager you have made the decision to outsource at least one aspect of your QA testing work. The decision has been made and the contract signed. What do you provide the outsourced testing team so they can effectively test?

  • First, designate a leader, liaison, or manager.

This role ensures the outsourced team can access 

the system, be it in the cloud or on your business network. The leader needs to decide what training, test cases, or other documentation is provided to the outsourced team.

Once you determine what type of training and documentation you’re providing for testing, review it before sending it. The software development team, the manager, and any internal QA testers must take the time to review the documentation being sent as thoroughly as possible. Verify the documentation is updated and valid for the testing the outsourced team is scheduled to perform - in other words, “send no junk.” If you provide incorrect documentation it’ll create confusion and misunderstanding, impairing the productivity of your outsourced testing team. If you send junk in, you’ll get junk back. Make sure the organization’s internal experts validate the documentation being sent thoroughly.

If your plan is to have the outsourced testing team review the test cases (or other documentation) and provide feedback by entering defects then make sure that’s understood and part of your SLA (service level agreement). Having an outsourced testing team execute and update tests is valid, provided they have a leader or designated SME responsible for answering questions and reviewing defects for accuracy. Keep in mind if you choose this approach, they’ll be a large volume of questions and issues that’ll need to be processed by the internal SME or leader. The leader’s workload will significantly increase. Additionally, consider the testing schedule and confirm it allows for the extra time to review, test, and process all outstanding questions.

Another option is to provide end user or Help documentation to use for testing purposes. Again, however, it is imperative to the project’s success to gather a small team of internal SMEs to validate the depth and accuracy of the Help and end user documentation before it’s sent to the outsourced testing team. Using this approach, you’ll have two distinct benefits:

  • The outsourced testing team will enhance the quality and accuracy of your end user Help documentation.
  • Your application function will actually match the Help menu description.

For the application end user, both improvements to documentation quality are wins. Application credibility is impacted by the accuracy of the Help documentation and having it be thoroughly tested and updated, improves end users trust in the application. When end users find the application doesn’t match the Help menu instruction, it sours their overall view of application functionality.

You may also consider using the internal Training team to provide the outsourced testing team the same end user training you give your customers. If it’s appropriate, train the outsourced testing service team using the same training materials. Using this type of documentation to train the outsourced testing team guarantees they’ll understand the end user’s application view. The more the testers understand the end user experience, the more potential customer facing defects found and fixed prior to the application release.

As the development leader, you don’t want junk in your application development organization, nor do you want to send junk out only to get it back again. For the health of the application and the financial benefit of the company, it’s imperative that you decide what type of documentation the outsourced testing team uses for testing. Whether it’s the Help menu, existing test cases, or end user documentation - get a qualified team of SME’s to review and validate the accuracy of the information before sending it to the outsourced testing team. Never send junk out to an outsourced team and expect them to figure it out. Send them quality, accurate data and you’ll receive quality test execution and valid defects back.