Coronavirus: Is this the end of the global offshore testing model?

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The global offshoring model has been very successful in the past. With a market greater than $50B in India alone, there is no denying that fact.

However, many have noticed how recent eye-opening developments have arisen due the coronavirus which has had a negative impact on digital supply chains that as a result have been severely affected by the pandemic. Rob Mason, CTO at Applause, has had an insightful look into how it has impacted business continuity and why brands have switched to crowdtesting to maintain the release of new software and much more.

Read Rob’s informative words below to discover how the pandemic has caused a panic in the offshore testing model and the ways in which it is having a disruptive effect on the software development global pipeline.

Reservations about offshoring were emerging even before the pandemic began. For many years offshoring offered businesses a cost-effective and scalable route to delivering large IT services projects. QA testing was no different, and software professionals came to rely on offshore teams to supplement their in-house capabilities. However, demands have changed.

Software testing has become more and more sophisticated. It’s no longer just a question of quality. So many aspects of the end-user experience and the customer journey need to be taken into consideration.

Also, speed and agility are key when it comes to testing apps, websites, and other digital properties. It remains to be seen if offshoring can provide a quick turnaround, coverage, and valuable insights that brands need from QA testing nowadays. Rising costs have also resulted in companies moving on to other offshore locations, which involves getting used to new time differences, cultures, and ways of working.

Many of these issues were compounded by the pandemic, but what quickly became apparent was that outsourcing companies and their employees lacked the infrastructure to work remotely, which negatively impacted business continuity.

Lack of preparedness

The outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have had a devastating effect on outsourcing companies. With no effective remote working strategy in place, these companies were prevented from providing key services to their customers. While businesses in the UK and Europe struggled initially to manage large numbers of employees forced to work from home, outsourcing companies in offshore locations were simply not prepared for this type of scenario.

Unfortunately, ‘working from home’ is not a standard practice. It’s not generally supported by outsourcing companies, many of which do not provide workers with laptops to bring home. Even if workers have the technology to work from home – including internet connections and VPN access – many firms need client permission for them to do so.

These firms are desperately trying to catch up and some companies are now distributing laptops to workers’ homes, but this is taking the time. Even when they manage to get devices and laptops out to staff, companies are finding it difficult to expand their virtual private networks exponentially. This isn’t helped by poor-quality broadband infrastructure hampering the ability to work from home.

Regardless of the pandemic, many of these firms are also falling behind in terms of the training, management and quality control of teams, which is impacting the levels of service they can provide.

Offshoring versus crowdtesting

The pandemic has exposed many of the flaws in the traditional outsourcing, or offshoring, model. The most glaring issue was the inability to support business continuity and business enablement at the time it was needed most. Subsequently, the companies that once relied on offshoring found that they had to adapt, and they had to adapt quickly. Particularly as in-house testing had also become untenable. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look very far to find a viable alternative.

Brands have been using crowdtesting and remote testing services for more than a decade. Crowdtesting has become a well-established model that operates in tandem with in-house teams to complement integrated QA testing.

When comparing the two models, offshoring is nothing more than moving testing from one office to another, whereas crowdtesting, or distributed testing, requires having an infrastructure in place where a company manages a global community of testers who do all their work remotely. This model offers brands an embedded infrastructure that can be scaled up or down to meet requirements.

What’s more, is that it gives brands access to skilled testers from a diverse set of backgrounds with a range of different skills. The comparison between offshoring and crowdtesting models is reminiscent of the trends in data centers, and how IT systems used to be kept in-office, before co-location facilities became the standard, then cloud came along and has since the norm because it is highly distributed, flexible, scalable and high performing.

The crowdtesting model allows brands to conduct testing of digital products with a community made up of people that are very close to the actual customers they’re targeting. This can be done at a local level, or it can be scaled to support bigger and bolder projects across multiple markets and regions. Each time providing a curated team of local testers that appreciate the cultural demands and expectations of customers in those markets. These are levels of expertise and insight that offshoring cannot guarantee.

Quality control

Crowdtesting and offshoring could go head-to-head on several different factors. A lack of cultural understanding is one of them and it can have a negative impact on projects, but so can time zone differences and language barriers.

All of these issues and more can be eliminated by using a crowdsourced model. Despite being community-based, the leading providers of crowdtesting services provide only highly vetted testers and ensure professional oversight. Community projects are coordinated by management teams that liaise directly with customers providing them with as much, or as little, visibility and control as they want. This model ensures that it’s the customer that calls the shots, providing them with the ability to upload test cases and define the scope of work.

In today’s apps economy, testing alone isn’t enough. End-users have high expectations and the best apps extend quality past QA and to every segment of the app lifecycle. Unfortunately, traditional offshoring is no longer equipped to meet the increasing demands of app quality.

More importantly, at times like these, a highly resilient crowdtesting infrastructure ensures business continuity and business enablement…even during a pandemic. The crowdsourced model leverages a globally distributed workforce that was already working home when the crisis began. This has enabled clients to continue to release software on schedule, and the surge in interest in remote and distributed testing shows no signs of slowing down. It will continue to provide brands with advantages in terms of cost, timeframe, real-world coverage, and cultural understanding for many years to come.

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