Blog posts on the subject of outsourcing and offshoring by management and developers at Optimus Information Inc.

When done correctly, outsourcing, both onshore and off, can provide substantial cost savings. A good outsourcing partner will deliver higher quality service in a shorter time-frame than bringing the skill in-house.

However, this is all presuming that you are outsourcing the right kinds of tasks and that you are working with a good partner. The below posts will help you choose what to outsource and what to look for in an outsourcing partner.

Outsourcing Your Software Testing: When Does it Make Sense

One of the biggest challenges facing any organization that produces software is testing it. Using in-house testing methods may lead to a number of issues. Insiders often have a particular feel for how a program works, and this can lead to them miss problems. Also, many organizations simply don’t have the experience dealing with testing as a specific trade. It’s not usual, therefore, for operations to outsource their software testing efforts. Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind as you face that choice.

Automation vs Manual Testing

Some tasks in testing are simply too hard for a human user to truly duplicate at a scale large enough to produce meaningful data. For example, companies trying to test the functionality of APIs will have a difficult time hitting servers with enough requests to simulate the load that millions of real-world users will produce in employing a fully deployed version of the software. This is a case where automation of testing efforts might prove to be highly advantageous. Similar cases often emerge when a company needs to test the scalability and endurance of software, and automation is also a common choice for testing how well spikes are handled.

Conversely, automated systems often struggle to fully reproduce usage behaviour. User interface issues are especially hard to detect by any means other than real-world use by actual humans. In instances where the user interaction with the software is more important, it may be wise to look toward a manual testing solution.

For companies using automated models, many are turning to Agile processes. This approach allows them to focus on providing support in shorter sprints. In environments where frequent releases are anticipated, an Agile model using functional and regression testing helps to see that nothing is broken. This also limits the leak of issues into production models, since the process has multiple redundancies built in.

In-House vs Outsourced

There is often a strong temptation to test software solely in-house. In the early phases of a project, this can produce cost savings. It also has the potential to speed projects up, but this swiftness may be paid for later if in-house testers aren’t able to identify potential problems early on. Unless an organization has the resources required to effectively build its own independent, in-house testing division, there are huge possible downsides to handling the task that way.

Outsourced solutions for testing are common. Not only do outsourcing firms bring greater independence to the process, they also are capable of a level of specialization that may actually speed projects up. For companies overhauling legacy products, outsourcing options are often very helpful, as they often have competencies in the use of older systems and programming languages.

On-Shore vs Off-Shore vs Hybrid

The question of outsourcing software testing also leads to questions about exactly how close to home the testing provider needs to be. On-shore firms tend to be much less cost-effective upfront, but they often carry with them some added advantages. Foremost, employees of on-shore firms are more likely to be native speakers of your company’s language. They also are more likely to work in a time zone close to yours, and that can make scheduling of conferences and consultations simpler.

Off-shore firms tend to bring one specific advantage to the table: price. Work that might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform in the U.S. may cost less than $10,000 to do overseas. That said, many off-shore companies can deliver surprisingly impressive results for the price. If you’re comfortable handling conferencing in a flexible manner, off-shoring often can yield major savings.

This is another case where companies often pursue a hybrid approach. Working with a consulting firm to determine what tasks are better to do on- or off-shore may also be beneficial.

Determining Qualifications and Expertise

The most widely recognized governing body in the industry that grants qualifications is the International Software Testing Qualifications Board. The ISTQB offers two tier, certifying engineers who have beginner-level experience of less than 5 years and those who have more. In many instances, it may be simpler to look at technical qualifications, like programming and administrative certifications from Microsoft and Oracle, to establish competency.

It’s wise, however, to not overrate the value of qualifications when dealing with software testing. When possible, you should ask services providers to supply case studies and references.


Software testing, especially once an organization has expanded to the point that it expects a large user base, is important to perform. The question that each company faces is how to divvy up the workload. Some tasks are ideally suited to automation, while others are best handled manually. Likewise, it may make more sense to employ an outsourced firm or even an off-shore company to deal with these aspects of the job. With a little forethought, you can see that your software will be tested thoroughly and without breaking your project budget.


If you have questions about outsourcing or are interested in outsourcing your software testing activities, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

The most recent installment of the Optimus Breakfast Series took place yesterday morning, Oct. 5th, 2017. This event hosted an engaging discussion on when and how to outsource software projects effectively. If you missed it, stay tuned to the Optimus blog for the complete video recording!

For those that attended, there were excellent networking opportunities with attendees from some of Vancouver’s top brands:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-11.46.36-AM-copy-1030x618 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap


Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Ralph Turfus – Technology Entrepreneur

Ally Bharmal – Partner, Fasken Martineau

Tejinder Basi – Former Partner, Deloitte; Director, Blockchain Society of BC

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Highlights from the Morning

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IMG_4341-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_4345-resize-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_20171005_081550-1030x773 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_20171005_090131-1-e1507317449330-1030x672 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapPANO_20171005_08430301-1030x529 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

Pros and Cons of Pure Onshore, Pure Offshore and Hybrid Model Outsourcing

North American companies contemplating outsourcing some or all of their software development have more options than ever before. They can choose from among onshore outsourcers close to home, offshore services halfway across the globe or a blend of these in unique combinations.

In a few situations, which model to choose may seem straightforward, however, each has its advantages and disadvantages to consider, especially in relation to an enterprise’s capital resources, in-house resources and business priorities.



Onshore outsourcing may work if your definitive goal is to add a seamless extension of your team with expertise not currently present in-house. An onshore outsource partner is also advantageous if you prefer a partner in your time zone and want to work within the same legal jurisdiction.

Communication is typically a lot easier and more streamlined when your outsourcing partner is geographically close by, and the possibility of visits or personnel assignment on your site is greater with an onshore provider.


The cost of outsourcing is mainly related to the economic environment in the locale of the provider. Despite certain other advantages of onshore providers, their cost is generally multiples of an offshore provider.

Problems such as cultural or language barriers will be markedly less with an onshore outsourcing firm, but there is still the potential for miscommunication due to corporate cultural factors, differing technologies or business practices with an onshore outsource partner.



Whereas an onshore outsourcer may have the same difficulties you have acquiring much needed talent, offshore providers pull from an entirely different talent pool and may have a ready pool to tap. Furthermore, their resources are likely to be working under different creative constraints, which can lead to new solutions to fulfilling your development goals.

In contract to pure onshoring, offshoring can be significantly less expensive.

While an onshore provider will share much of your cultural, technological and legal context, offshore providers can offer additional benefits to companies desiring to globalize their products. Choosing one or more offshore outsourcing firms in select markets could, at least indirectly, transport your presence to a new foreign market. This situation would be especially important if your company needs local customer support there, values insights into cultural modifications of the product or requires maintenance of local infrastructure.


The architecture, design, development, testing and deployment of your project are the essential aspects of your software process, and the degree of control over what you hand an outsourcer is inversely related to their distance from you in space and time. Most companies prefer to keep architecture and design phases close to home. This is something to keep in mind when deciding how much process control to cede to an outsourcer.

It’s possible to run into difficulties if you use an offshore outsourcer in a country whose native language and customs do not align well with yours. Add on top of those potential difficulties the additional inconvenience of vastly different time zones. If such difficulties are present, and especially if the offshore firm will have interactions with your clients or stakeholders, much more effort is required to smooth out rough spots or you may be better off not going with the offshore provider at all.


Download our Strategic Guide to Technology Outsourcing eBook


Hybrid Model

A hybrid model will have technical teams overseas, but an onshore office in your area that you will primarily communicate with. It gives you the access the global delivery and skills of an offshore model, but with the local presence and communication access of an onshore model.


Years ago, outsourcing was relegated mainly to mundane tasks and chosen solely on a cost basis. Fortunately, many hybrid outsourcers are beyond competing solely on cost and now offer quality and innovation as benefits. North America no longer has a corner on the market for the most skilled and innovative software developers, and the global talent pool can be quite deep.

Many organizations prefer to keep architecture and design phases close to home, which is why a hybrid model can be so effective. These core functions are kept in geographic proximity to the client where team members are available for face to face meetings or phone calls in the same time zones, and only the development or testing delivery is done offshore.

Having a local office also offers legal protections by having an office or headquarters in your jurisdiction.

With a hybrid model, organizations get the cost efficiency of offshoring, but with the convenience and seamlessness of onshoring.


While a hybrid model gives you additional convenience and local access to personnel, it often can’t compete on cost with a purely offshore model. If your primary concern is getting the lowest price possible, then a pure offshore may be a better option.


Typically, pure onshore or offshore outsourcing rarely supply an ideal match for every enterprise’s software development efforts except in cases where the project’s duration and scope are significantly limited. That is why most companies seeking an outsource partner like a hybrid approach like Optimus’, which includes onshore presence with offshore delivery resources.

These companies have found that by working with a hybrid model and using a reliable, trusted outsourcing partner like Optimus, they are obtaining better quality, more timely production and the ability to scale operations up or down at a reduced cost.

If you have any questions about the right outsourcing model for your company, you can contact us here.

Daily Huddles: How to Keep Your Team Connected

Every afternoon at 3:56 our team stops what they are doing to gather in a common area. Here we meet for no more than 10 minutes and summarize our day by sharing an update on the following four items: good news from the past day, an update on your top one or two metrics, any stuck points that you need help in and the top priorities for the next 24 hours.

The Team Huddle is nothing new, innovative or revolutionary. They became widely popular around 2002 when Verne Harnish’s ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ was released and became a go to management resource. Since then many companies have come up with their own versions of a daily team huddle. While there are a few things to follow to make your daily huddle consistent, the important part is to continuously figure out what works best for your team.


Many teams start their day with a huddle and get their huddle in as early as possible. It’s a great way to check in at the start of the day, connect on trouble areas and encourage each other. Another tip is to start the huddle at an odd time because this can help people to remember and they are more likely to show up a little early. The length of your huddle should be only between 5 – 15 minutes depending on the size of your team. Keep things brief and on topic so that you don’t lose momentum during your huddle.

Who Attends

Take time to consider which team members should be a part of your team huddle. Ideally to keep your huddle quick keep it to no more than seven people. If more than that, you may want to consider splitting up your teams into groups that work closely together and would benefit most from connecting on a daily basis. However, this rule is not mandatory. Some teams break these rules and will have a company wide huddle. If you take this route you will want to consider how updates are handled since there will not be time for every team member to give an update.


Will you hold your huddles in person, over the phone, or some combination? Make sure to set clear guidelines for your team members so they know how to show up. Does your office have a meeting room, common area or other space that you can use for these? Keep in mind if there are other people around that may not be involved in a team huddle that could be distracted. You also want to make sure your team members are as comfortable as possible to give updates and have their voice heard in the huddle. If some team members work remotely try to accommodate them as much as possible too. Adding in technology can end up taking time to setup or troubleshoot so keep that in mind as well when deciding the logistics of your team huddle.


This is the part you can really have fun with and can bring out the best in your team. The important part is that the huddle agenda is the same every day to create routine. There are a lot of different opinions out there on what makes for an effective team huddle agenda. Some things are really important to connect on daily, but for your team some things may not matter as much. Take some time to consider the things that are important in your team’s success and that you want team members to be thinking about every day. Harnish recommends the following three items to address:

  • What’s up: Check in on what has or is happening over a 24 hour period.
  • Daily measurements: Cover some critical metrics that are important and relevant to each team member’s role.
  • Bottlenecks: What’s getting in the way? Where are team members stuck and what do they need in order to move forward?

When it comes to the bottlenecks, this is the piece that can be the most beneficial because team members can have a place to vocalize what they are stuck on and other team members have a chance to help problem solve. Be careful here though, this is where your team huddle can be derailed. Make sure to allow team members to identify who can help and when, then move on to keep the meeting on track.

Some teams also like to add in a piece that is connected to their culture’s values. Giving ‘props’ to a team member that recently went above and beyond is common. Think about what makes your culture unique and how you can incorporate that into your team huddle. Your team may even want to come up with a name for your team huddle that aligns with your business to set it apart from other ‘Team Meetings’.


Another aspect that will set your team huddle apart from other meetings is that everyone stands up. This is effective for a couple different reasons; it will keep everyone energized and keep the meeting from going too long. For some teams, the team huddle is mandatory and team members will even step out of meetings to attend their team huddle. Make sure to assess if that aligns with your business and culture. If it is part of your culture to put customers and clients first, then forcing team members to leave a meeting right in the middle may not work for you. In deciding to make the team huddle mandatory, you may also want to consider the time of day of the meeting. When is a time that team members are most likely in the office? For some teams that may be in the morning, lunch or later afternoon. You may also want to consider assigning one person that leads the meeting or a specific order that the meeting will go. It is important to create this consistency as well to keep to the brief time line.

Try it Out

Try it out for a week and get feedback from your team. What is working, what is not working? This is the most important part of the team huddle. Keep adjusting and tweaking your team huddle until there is a good flow and it works for your team. This is not a one-size fits all recipe so don’t be discouraged if the first few tries are not working out. It will take a little time for your team to get into the habit and feel comfortable.

Our team members enjoy the opportunity to learn about what other team members are working on, time to celebrate successes and the ability to help support fellow team members.

At Optimus we work in a lot of different team environments with clients across time zones. We work as an extension of our client’s software teams. Contact us today and let us know how we can help your team.

4 Common Misleading Beliefs about Outsourcing

Many people can find outsourcing topics misleading, as many folks do not have all of the facts or they are only looking at an industry that stands out and is giving the rest of the outsourcing crowd a bad name. We will go over a few points that will show you that many of the outsourcing techniques employed today use good practices and actually make sense for business and the economy.

Outsourcing--300x181 4 Common Misleading Beliefs about Outsourcing

FALSE: Outsourcing takes jobs away from Americans

Not all outsourcing projects are outsourced to other countries. Outsourcing simply means bypassing the in-house hiring process and hiring an individual or a business that does not work in your office.

FALSE: Outsourcing takes away employment from less skilled American workers

With the American economy the way it currently is, many Americans have been out of work and are willing to train to learn new skills then work from home at a very competitive rate. Again, jobs and money remain in America which include instructors required to train these new outsourced employees keeping people employed in America. This is a popular option many are taking rather than moving to a minimum wage position.

FALSE: Outsourcing hurts small businesses

Small business accounts for the majority of job creation in America and what we are seeing is “out with the old and in with the new”. Those small businesses that can no longer keep up with modern technology will be replaced by new businesses who started as an outsourced employee working from their living room and developed a successful business due to competitive rates and quick turn around. These newly developed businesses often employ like minded young people willing to work hard and spend their money on their new families keeping money in America with mortgages, car payments, raising children, etc…

FALSE: Outsourcing only leaves minimum wage jobs for the rest of us

Companies are waking up and have realized that they have been duped into paying someone $100,000 a year to type a few lines of code. This is when the layoffs start and instead of asking you to take a pay cut of $50,000 a year then advertising that position with a wage that would historically pay top dollar for nowhere near the industry standard, they have no choice but to outsource. Many of these employees who are now out of work are not willing to work for less than $100k. Times are changing and you need to change with the times. This often means working for less than what you are used to working for.

As you can see, not all outsourcing fears are valid, and many beliefs are simply not true. Outsourcing has been a touchy subject for many but when we take a few steps back we realize that we are all just looking to save a few bucks.

Questions to ask when outsourcing technology services

global-outsourcing Questions to ask when outsourcing technology services

In almost two decades of dealing with clients in the IT outsourcing industry, I have answered almost every hard question imaginable for prospects worried about finding the right IT outsourcing partner.

Based on my experience, I would like to share the top five questions you should ask outsourcing vendors like us before making a decision.

Do you have demonstrated capability in providing similar solutions?

The key word here is similar because finding an exact match will make your search overly difficult and rule out well-qualified vendors.

Specific points to consider include:

  • size
  • team dynamics
  • process
  • technology
  • industry

What can go wrong? What are the possible risks to achieve the desired objectives?

The purpose of this question is to test the vendor’s ability to think through the project, anticipate risks and create a plan to mitigate them.

The answers don’t need to be perfect, just demonstrate the vendor’s intelligence.

What does the vendor need from you?

Any outsourcing arrangement is going to require some effort on your part to make it work.

Depending on the project, the vendor may need some of your time, artifacts like documentation, a governance structure and access to your infrastructure among other things.

Clearly understanding the needs of both parties beforehand will help ensure the partnership succeeds.

How does communication between two teams work?

Many outsourcing projects fail not due to individual capabilities, but more due to process and communication.

Ensure that communication aligns with your process through daily scrums, weekly meetings, informal Skype-based meetings or whatever works for your organization.

How do both sides have skin in the game?

The vendor should be prepared be penalized if they miss key milestones and rewarded if they meet them ensuring that they are invested in your success while strengthening your relationship.

These questions discussed in face to face meetings and phone meetings lead to a common understanding of objectives, comfort between two teams and can be used as the basis for 90 days plans.

Once the relationship begins, it is important to review the actual results against the expectations set in pre-sales.

With a little extra caution and effort, the results of your outsourcing partnership will be cause for celebration.

Are there any questions that you think I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Mid-Year Review from Optimus

2012_flickr_photojenni-150x150 Mid-Year Review from Optimus

Mid Year Review at Optimus

As we approach mid year, a lot of good things are happening to outsourcing in general and Optimus in particular.

Today, with more than 40 clients, most of them in a long-term relationship with us, we are looking forward to the second half of 2012 where we expect to see a continuation of the following trends.

First, clients are looking for vendors who are keen to work in a collaborative mode and are ready to be part of one team. Secondly, clients are looking for vendors to deal with some of the ambiguity which they face in their day-to day business lives. This needs thought leadership and proximity to clients. At the same time, clients are looking for cost efficiency. All of this fits well with our integrated delivery model where part of the execution is close to the client’s location and part of the execution is in lower cost geographies.

Another trend is occurring in regards to user’s expectations. Due to their exposure to social media (eg. Facebook) and mobile devices (eg. the iPad), clients have become more demanding in terms of usability, user interface, social media integrations, and mobility. This is challenging many traditional vendors who are used to only offering back-end support services. Our approach of providing a strong front-end, social media integrations, and mobile capabilities, coupled with our enterprise-grade software development and testing experiences, are helping us in this emerging trend.

Last but not the least, with so much data being produced through increased availability to external sources and the cost of computing coming down, there are interesting possibilities for each company to gather more data and go deeper into analyzing it. This is again becoming a mainstream need.

I look forward to hearing your views on some of the trends and how we can succeed together.

(image credit: photojenni)

5 Case Studies on Outsourced Report Development

MS-Gold-Partner-Data-Platform-1024x432 5 Case Studies on Outsourced Report Development

As the only Microsoft Gold Partner on the Data Platform in Western Canada, we have helped many clients outsource report development.

Since companies use multiple systems for different business functions and each of these systems have a database, data needs to be gathered, combined, and compared. This provides an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the market, the customers, and the core business.

Here are five case studies describing the outsourced report development services we’ve provided in the last few months:

  1. See how we developed reports for Microsoft Dynamics AX using Microsoft’s SSRS (Case Study).
  2. See how we helped a client migrate reports from Crystal Reports to SSRS (Case Study).
  3. See how we used SharePoint, PerformancePoint, and SSRS to create a web-based reporting portal (Case Study).
  4. See how we helped a client extract more data from their system by building an external reporting solution (Case Study).
  5. See how we partnered with a software development company to enhance their reporting offering (Case Study).
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How Does Outsourced Report Development Work?

Report development as a managed service means our clients have on-demand access to a diverse reporting team. Although we are a MS partner, we have extensive expertise on other proprietary and open source platforms.

As explained in my previous blog on “Benefits of Report Development as a Managed Service” our clients receive the following benefits:

  • Overhead cost control
  • Agile report development process
  • Access to experts on multiple platforms
  • No risk of losing skills from staff turnover
  • Continuous availability and on demand bandwidth
  • Industry standard IT governance
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Due to the advancement in technologies these reports, dashboards, and scorecards can be:

  • Published to smart phones and tablets
  • Published to emails as attachments
  • Published to a web portal
  • Published within a third party application
  • Scheduled to run automatically
  • Run on-demand

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These days IT department in big organizations are seen as service centres. Whether they provide services in house or outsource to a vendor, IT departments charge back the expense to the divisions or departments for which the services are performed.

Business Intelligence vendors like Optimus provide managed services to provide benefits to these organizations. If you would like to learn more about our report development process and experience, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to sit down and discuss your needs.

Benefits of Report Development as a Managed Service

report_developers-150x150 Benefits of Report Development as a Managed Service

Report developers are ready to go.

Outsourcing report development as a managed service is becoming increasingly common.

In the age of big data, companies are finding it challenging to utilize their existing data to its full potential. The value is not in the data, it is in how the data is interpreted and accessed. The goal of business analytics is to collect, organize, and display relevant data to key stakeholders.

In the current environment where every company is seeking cost cutting measures, outsourcing non-core activities to experienced third parties is becoming increasingly common. Business Intelligence, data management, and report development are some key examples of managed services that vendors offer to such companies.

Vendors such as IBM, are redefining the managed services concept that was earlier limited to application support. Specifically, outsourcing report development has become part of the strategic thinking process for a growing number of companies who leverage the data at their disposal.

Key questions when managing report development:

  1. How to find a technology expert who can leverage data and generate reports for business units, in a short period of time?
  2. What would be the most cost effective manner to have a long term relationship with someone who can bring resource pooling agility and reduce the risks associated with staff turnover?

These days vendors provide report development as a managed service to their clients. Vendors work with their customers on various projects with the help of their dedicated global team.

Benefits of using a managed service for report development:

  • Overhead cost control: Managed services help reduce the IT department’s overhead costs by providing an efficient alternative to in-house report development and query writing. This also frees up management to focus on more strategic endeavours.
  • Agile process: Managed services enable agility and scalability of report development at highly competitive rates.
  • Access to experts: Companies get easy access to expert report developers. Companies can tap into world-class expertise and higher quality at a fraction of the cost of hiring or contracting a specialist – this is especially true when migrating from one reporting system to another.
  • No risk of losing skills from staff turnover: Companies eliminate risks of losing critical skills in a volatile employment market and lessen the need to hire and ramp up new employee talent for extremely critical technology(ies).
  • Continuous availability and on demand bandwidth: Vendors who provide local delivery and global report development offer 24 X 7 services to their clients. Additionally, companies benefit from the flexible bandwidth during development and release cycles.
  • Industry standard IT governance: Good vendors make sure that there is industry standard IT governance that leads to extensive customer satisfaction. This will generate a higher value alternative to internal delivery and a higher success rate.

Managed services are not only limited to report development, they also extends to the complete business intelligence portfolio, including cloud offerings. We are seeing many vendors similar to Optimus expanding in this horizon to provide end-to-end business intelligence as a managed service, such as Teradata. In my view “Report Development as a Managed Service” is a flexible and needs-based model that allows companies to access resources at the most efficient price point.

Optimus provides report development services in Vancouver, Canada. We have expertise to develop cross-platform and cross-applications reports. We specialize in Mircosoft SSRS, Crystal Reports and other open source tools. If you would like to learn more about our report development process and experience, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to sit down and discuss your needs.

(image credit: lumaxart)

Software Testing as a Service: A New Way of Thinking

software-testing-services-150x150 Software Testing as a Service: A New Way of Thinking

The evolution of software testing services.

I’m not sure who coined the word ‘Software-as-a-Service”, but have certainly capitalized on it and packaged it as a concept, an idea, a way of thinking and most importantly have successfully monetized it.

Any on-demand service has an extension of ‘as-a-service’. Software testing as a service is no exception. In the following few paragraphs, I will try to map this concept with real world scenarios and hopefully give our readers a flavour as to where we are heading, from a Testing & QA perspective, in the next few months to come.

Over the past couple of months, we spoke to over 50 companies in British Columbia, Canada. This included the likes of CIOs, VP engineering, IT directors, QA managers and testers.

We approached them with couple of pointed question:

  1. What are your pain areas around Testing & QA?
  2. What are your % budget allocation (quantitative) / mindshare (qualitative) to Testing & QA?


Our take away from all the meetings:

  1. 85% of the target audience were certain that they need help on Testing & QA.

Of this 85%, they can be categorized into 3 categories:

  1. Needing help on improving their overall QA processes.
  2. Needing help on plain execution of their test cases.
  3. Needing help to move towards higher level of automation.

Incidentally, although Testing & QA is an area of importance, decision makers are unable to quantify the budget allocation nor able to dedicate mindshare to it. The primary reason is the apprehension of needing on-going testing support. They would rather prefer it on an on-demand basis.

This was enough food for thought for us to realise the benefit of ‘Testing-as-a-Service’ and how it can help organisations lower their total cost of ownership and guarantee predictable outcomes, across the lifespan of the development cycle.

Testing has come a long way from being a FTE (full-time equivalent) driven way of working, to ‘as-a-service way’ of thinking.

software-testing-services Software Testing as a Service: A New Way of Thinking

The evolution of software testing services.

*Source: Optimus Information

We all remember those good old days of multi-year contracts, where vendors used to layout the buffet and testing used to be just another line item. Then the offshoring wave kicked-in and dedicated testing teams were deployed overnight. The concept of the Testing-Center-of-Excellence started taking shape. This resulted in segregation in Development and Maintenance contracts which led to the foundation of Independent Testing Vendors across the globe.

However current market shifts compelled organisations to take a step back and rethink their business model. Incidentally, Testing & QA fell into the on-demand category. Testing-as-a-Service thus became an evolutionary approach, where the risks are further being distributed across the board.

As we delved further into it, we observed some key subtleties of this concept:

  1. Testing-as-a-Service is not the same as cloud based testing. The latter is an activity / means to an end, while Testing-as-a-Service is a framework, a unique way of approaching Testing & QA, independent of vendors and tools, which traditionally been considered as an activity.
  2. Defining the objective of the Testing-as-a-Service model: 1) Predictable outcomes, 2) Move towards an on-demand pricing model 3) Lower TCO. Organisations should demand a result based invoices rather than effort based invoices, raised typically at the end of every month. This will be factored into the model.
  3. Start with areas where possibility of automation is greater. Testing-as-a-Service model works very well where need is well defined and understood. This might seem like a ‘catch-22’ situation for certain organisations. In this case, this model may not be the best one to begin with; however necessary due diligence should be done for future benefits and adaptation of this model.
  4. Organisations should work closely with their testing tool vendors to factor in licensing cost in the model. One of the approaches is to amortize the license cost of the tool over the span of the usage. However, leading vendors such as HP, SmartBear, Microsoft, offers an on-demand licensing portfolio.

All said and done, these are some industry accepted approaches. In the end, focus should be on customer needs and to ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

These are some of our thoughts as we continue to work closely with our clients as their trusted advisors.

Any pointed feedback is always welcome; as it would help us further improve our processes. You can learn more about our QA practices at OptimusQA or share your thoughts with OptimusQA on Twitter.


*This article was also featured in ‘SoftwareTest Professional’ Magazine’s January Newsletter, a leading industry magazine focused towards Testing Professionals. Seth Eliot, a thought-leader in the testing community and a Senior Knowledge Engineer, Test Excellence, at Microsoft, took personal interest in the article as well.