Automated Testing on Azure DevOps

If you are looking for automated testing for any of your applications and would like to integrate it with your Azure DevOps infrastructure, Optimus Information has a “ready to deploy” Test Automation solution for you.

Our Azure DevOps based test automation solution uses the latest Azure CI/CD features and offers the following functionalities:

1. Configure automated test cycles using Azure DevOps

2. Schedule and execute Web UI and REST API test scripts on cloud using Azure VMs

    • Self-serviced virtual machines and PaaS resources for testing using Azure DevTest labs
    • Supports automated test scripts developed in Java or C# using Selenium WebDriver, REST Assured and RestSharp

    3. Distribution of apps to beta testers and your collaborators with Azure App Center

      • Selection from a large variety of test devices using the App Center Test Cloud
      • Supports popular frameworks like Xamarin.UITest, Appium, XCUI Test etc.

      4. Test result reporting and logging with screen shots and 6 month data retention with App Center

        • Support for notification over mail or other communication tools like Slack

        5. Data persistence support using AzureSQL service

        6. Integration with PowerBI Embedded for reporting and analytics

        7. Built in test script source code management using Azure DevOps

          • Supports integration with third party Git providers like Github if required

          8. Built in test case management for test plans using Azure Test Plans

            • Custom integration possible with other tools like TestLink where supported

            9. Concurrent execution

            10. Ability to start automated testing in short time frame with expense control

            Cloud is important to our customers. The Optimus test automation framework on Azure makes it possible for our customers to seamlessly integrate test automation into their cloud-based development as well as their test and production environments. Contact us to get a more in-depth look to to get a demonstration.

            Automated-Testing-Solution-on-Azure-2-e1554082144564 Automated Testing on Azure DevOps
            All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

            API Testing: Do It Right and Automate

            Software development in 2018 looks nothing like it did a decade ago. Developers have been driven to find faster and more efficient ways to produce a finished application. Customers demand better products, and market pressures mean get your apps out now or risk annihilation from competitors.

            This means abandoning the waterfall method of software development where each part of a program was completed before the next was started, often leaving error identification (and subsequent delays) until the end of the cycle. Instead, developers are now embracing Agile development with its highly integrated production methodology, often releasing product in two-week sprints.

            APIs Can Get Your App Market-Ready Faster

            We live in a fast world. Enterprises that are big users of technology need to keep up with the pace of change demanded by their customers. This can put a high degree of stress on internal IT teams and lead to the inevitable coding errors and resulting delays in new product release.

            An advantage is the ubiquitous use of APIs or Application Programming Interfaces. APIs allow nearly limitless possibilities for how applications can interact with each other.

            However powerful the use of APIs can be, they also need to be put through a rigorous testing process. Unfortunately, this often places added strain on a company’s IT team that may not be familiar with the most effective testing methodologies.

            “Often a client doesn’t know what KPI they should focus on or they don’t define it at all. Then they’d have no way of knowing what the metrics are for the data they’re gathering. But if you do it right, you get the right information back from the metrics to make improvements.”

            Ashish Pandey, Optimus Information’s Technical Lead

            API Testing Begins with KPIs

            API testing can be the most challenging part of software and QA testing because APIs are complicated creatures, using protocols and standards not often seen in other forms of testing.
            It’s critical to test all the components of the API – not just its UI or its functionality. Testing performance and security are just as critical.

            To test properly, says Ashish Pandey, Optimus Information’s Technical Lead at the company’s location in India, it’s important to begin with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

            Don’t Forget Security and Performance

            In addition to defining your KPIs, you also need to focus on more than UI. Some customers, Pandey continues, concentrate on just the UI portion of the application and ignore testing the other components. Security and performance are two areas often overlooked and, if something breaks, it’s probably because key areas within the API were ignored in testing.

            “When we test APIs for our clients”, says Pandey, “we generate a lot of data which gives us and our clients a clear summary of what might need to be improved in the future.” This can only happen when thorough testing is done and nothing is left to chance.

            While Ashish admits that thorough testing of the UX is extremely important for the customer,  it’s the KPIs that measure the data that then determine the performance of the application. If there are problem areas turning up, they can be remedied in a matter of seconds.

            Fail Forward Faster – Automation is Key to Proper API Testing

            Proper testing of an API is accomplished by running test cases which are designed to uncover failures. It can be extensive and time-consuming – the opposite of what agile development tries to accomplish – so Optimus specializes in automating as much of a customer’s testing as possible.

            It begins with the test cases, themselves, Pandey explains. “We take the customer’s test cases and analyze them to determine if they are ‘automatable’ or not. This makes it possible for us to suggest the correct technology stack with which the automated test could be performed.” In the future, the customer simply runs automated scripts to test different iterations of their applications, saving a great deal of time and money otherwise spent on manually writing the test scripts themselves.

            iStock-870784968 API Testing: Do It Right and Automate

            The Optimus Test Harness – Why No Company Should Test Without It

            A further advantage for Optimus customers is the use of an open source test harness. Ashish Pandey is one of the creators of the Optimus test harness which uses open source components and is configured to test cloud-based applications.

            Optimus estimates that 85% of its customers are technology firms that have cloud-based apps often undergoing testing as new iterations are created. Optimus has designed the harness to perform automated testing at different levels. “If we’re doing test automation at the UI level”, explains Pandey, “we have the ability to create automated test scripts for UI. We also have the capability to test at the full API level as well. In fact, our test harness is efficient enough that customers can perform a wide variety of testing on things such as execution of SQL queries to their database. We have built in to our harness APIs like SoapUI, WebSockets and others.”

            Test Feedback in Hours (Sometimes While You Sleep)

            What Optimus strives to do is provide customers with the sort of speed and agility that can be achieved through automation. “Many of our customers are into Agile development, so what they want is quick delivery of their app with feedback in a few hours,” says Pandey. “Some of them are also evolving with DevOps practices and they want results fast.”

            Automated testing, he points out, means that if a customer has three or four hundred test cases to run and each test takes four hours to perform, automation allows Optimus to test while the customers are sleeping. “The next morning, they have the results in their hands, rather than having to wait several days,” Pandey concludes.

            Understand and Implement the Right Methodology for Automated Testing

            Optimus has one aim with its clients: to ensure that they implement the right thinking and methodologies around testing. Doing so will improve the customers’ UX, decrease errors and get the app to market faster and on time.

            We understand Agile development, DevOps and automated testing and how the combination leads to rapid deployment of new, error-free applications at greatly reduced costs. We also know that this translates into powerful ROI for our customers.

            To learn more about using API test automation to make your software better, faster and more secure, download our new eBook now.

            More resources:

            Types of Performance Testing and the Best Tools for the Job

            In the abstract, it’s easy to think of testing a piece of software as a single set of actions. Within the industry, however, it has become common practice to look upon performance testing as a multifaceted task. The process includes:

            • Load testing
            • Stress testing
            • Endurance testing
            • Scalability testing
            • Volume testing
            • Spike testing

            Each phase has its distinct requirements and goals, and it’s important to be aware of them before moving ahead with a project. Likewise, it’s prudent to know which tools and processes are most suited to the job.

            Load Testing

            Load testing is intended to look at performance under two sets of conditions, normal and peak loads. An organization needs to model what it feels is likely to be normal usage of software. For example, a cloud-based photo storage system might expect to handle a certain load during particular parts of the year. Conversely, specific annual increases, such as during the holidays, would also need to be anticipated.

            The aim of load testing is not to overload the system. This can be done by using software to create virtual users and have them interact with the software. The goal is to see what performance looks like when an expected load is regularly hitting the system. Bottlenecks have to be identified, and notes need to be passed along to developers to see what can be done.

            Stress Testing

            Taking things to the next logical step, we arrive at stress testing. This is a deliberately intense process that’s intended to find out where the breaking points of operational capacity are. It should only be conducted once reasonable load testing efforts have been made and remedies have been implemented during that stage.

            The objective is to identify safe usage limits, and it’s particularly important to spot vulnerabilities that may be triggered when the system is operating under stress. If a database implementation suffers a buffer overrun during excessive loads, it’s good to know that in advance.

            Endurance Testing

            It may seem a fine distinction to make, but the question of how a piece of software will hold up over a long period of load is important. Anyone who has ever watched a desktop program’s memory usage balloon over the course of several hours of normal use can appreciate the difference. Just as issues often occur when a system is overwhelmed during a peak test, similar problems may begin appear only after a prolonged run of normal usage.

            Scalability Testing

            Maintaining any project over the course of years will present issues as the user base grows. This calls for a degree of guess work, as you’ll find yourself often trying to determine how 1,000 users today might grow out over five years. This can lead to unanticipated failures, if not addressed early on in a non-functional environment. No one wants to see a production database run out of space for entries because the index was built using INT11 and the system ran out of assignable unique IDs.

            Volume Testing

            The throughput of any user base is likely to grow as the popularity of a product increases. To get ahead of these problems, it’s also wise to perform volume testing. The goal in this case is to identify where problems might exist based on the volume of usage. For example, read-write issues with critical interface files, such as settings stored in XML, may create volume limits that can be adjusted by minor tweaks.

            Spike Testing

            Sudden increases and drops in usage can lead to issues that are difficult to predict. If an entire block of internet addresses loses connectivity, a high-volume site might experience a dropoff that’s both massive and instantaneous. These interruptions may even occur mid-operation. Spike testing allows you to identify specific potential issues and see the system fails elegantly.

            Moving to Performance Testing

            Devising a way to engage in testing while developers are still working on a specific generation of software takes a lot of planning. A lot of companies are turning to Agile methodologies in order to handle their testing needs. The goal with Agile processes is to see that orderly efforts are made to advance products into testing, make notes of issues, implement changes and confirm completion of work.

            Software performance testing work tends to call for a large degree of automation, and it’s wise to keep this in mind when choosing what to use. Many software development environments, such as the Enterprise editions of Microsoft Visual Studio, come with their own performance testing components. Those looking for an open source solution designed for web applications might wish to check out Apache JMeter. IBM Rational Performance Tester and HP LoadRunner are also popular choices for Licensed solutions.

            There are several questions to look at. For example, JMeter, by virtue of being open source, doesn’t offer the same sort of scalability that the Visual Studio tools do, especially in terms of being able to buy more virtual users instances in order to keep loading up. If you’re looking for a system that offers cloud-based solutions and simple Agile integration, IBM Rational Performance Tester is a solid option.


            If you have questions about getting started with Performance Testing or want to push the toolset further, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

            Test Automation for SaaS Products

            Software as a service is a popular delivery model for various business application domains including content management, service desk applications, accounting, invoicing, human resource management, CRM and ERP.

            Versus long-term software licensing of client packages, cloud delivery of SaaS enterprise apps offers greater convenience, lower risk and the economic advantages of reduced capital and operational expenditures with pay-as-you-go subscriptions.

            Challenges of SaaS Testing

            SaaS testing poses unique challenges:

            • Frequency of Releases – The instant delivery model of SaaS means shorter release cycles, which implies an agile or DevOps development and testing practices.
            • Functionality and Performance – SaaS implies no product versioning, thus a new release affects all users at once. So, functionality and performance testing must ensure the absence of negative impacts.
            • Cross-Browser Compatibility – A SaaS deployment needs a single OS but must present itself consistently across browser brands.
            • Scalability and Accessibility – Understanding how a SaaS app responds to increased load, zero to peak load rates, demand from multiple sources, such as mobile users, and meeting SLAs are all critical aspects of scalability testing.
            • Data Integration – If a SaaS application is part of a suite data sharing must be thoroughly tested, which is especially difficult if suite members follow different release schedules.
            • Usage Models – Configurability of SaaS apps is critical for adoption by enterprises who each have their unique ways of doing business. Testing configurability requires understanding your users’ business models to optimize which workflows to prioritize.
            • Security – The convenience of anywhere access of SaaS means testing the strength of a service’s identity management and data security measures is critical.
            • License Functionality – Without sound licensing policies that are correctly enforced, both users and providers suffer, so each release must re-verify that licensing is being correctly enforced.

            SaaS Testing Advantages

            Many traditional application testing aspects are not applicable to SaaS testing. SaaS does not require multiple version support nor will the software run on multiple OS platforms. Support for client or in-house servers is also unneeded as is backward compatibility testing.

            Applying SaaS Test Automation

            Test automation improves test coverage in the areas mentioned previously as well as complementing agile or DevOps environments required for SaaS products’ compressed release cycles. It does not completely preclude manual testing, however, which can suggest new test cases using exploratory testing immediately after each code release.

            Test Automation as a Development Project

            When approaching the unique aspects of SaaS testing automation, we find it extremely helpful to constantly identify areas where automation may be employed from unit testing to production.

            Additionally, the most successful automation efforts, in our experience, create test automation capability via the same development methods used for the code itself:

            • Develop a detailed test plan designed to keep pace with agile or DevOps practices
            • Plan for continual test documentation maintenance
            • Start with a framework-driven approach that includes defect tracking functionality
            • Always strive for reusability in your tests, which promotes less brittle tests while saving time
            • Develop a solid test reporting protocol that rapidly returns results to the developers
            • Hire testing experts with coding skills as no test automation tool completely substitutes for such skills

            Measure Success

            We have seen many test automation efforts fail because no metrics were put in place from the beginning to measure success or failure and guide corrective steps as the project progresses.

            Start by setting goals for the percentage of test cases that are automated for each area of testing, a percentage improvement in test coverage and the percentage improvement of time to release. Simply applying these metrics will suggest other useful metrics to apply as your test automation capability matures. Strive for metrics that are relevant to assessing the overall ROI of your test automation efforts.

            Test Automation Framework Capabilities

            When building or buying a test automation framework assess its maintainability to avoid it falling into disuse in a short time. For instance, if new tests are difficult to add to existing collections, testers will resist augmenting test coverage.

            Your automation framework should accommodate testers with coding skills but reduce complexity for those testers without such skills. It must separate scripts and data, handle multiple data formats, such as CSV files, plain text, XML and so on.

            If a candidate test framework does not include a test manager, defect management tool or continuous integration and continuous development capability, assess the effort required to integrate those critical functions.

            Strongly consider using a cloud-based automated test framework such as Saucelabs, BrowerStack, TestingWhiz, ITTester, etc. to lower costs and increase scalability. Cloud deployment services such as AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Compute also offer the ability to virtualize test automation instances using your preferred hypervisor to obtain greater efficiencies.

            Consult with Test Automation Experts

            It cannot be overemphasised that SaaS test automation is a complex, long-term endeavour with unique requirements that may easily overwhelm an enterprise’s QA capability. Thus, it often pays to enlist experts who have been down this road many times before. Such a move is especially critical given the short release cycles inherent in SaaS products and the value of thorough testing across multiple domains in the highly competitive SaaS market.


            If you have questions about getting started with Test Automation or want to push the toolset further, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.


            Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap

            How to test applications as they become increasingly universal

            In case you missed it, the latest instalment of the Optimus Breakfast Series went off Tuesday morning, June 13th, 2017. The event brought together three of the top software testing executives from Vancouver’s leading companies to talk software testing and the complexities they face in our new interconnected world.

            This was a sold-out event that drew over 60 attendees from 35 different organizations!


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

            Steve Whitfield – Technical Director, Mobile Apps at lululemon athletica

            Stu Ashman – QA Director at Mio Global

            Larry Ng – Director of Quality at Visier

            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.

            Stay tuned for the complete video recording to be posted on the Optimus blog.

            Fun fact: Larry Ng will also be speaking at VanQ, our QA and Testing Meetup, on Thursday, June 29th. He’ll be speaking on Endpoint Testing with Gatling. Check out the details and register here.

            Highlights from the Morning

            IMG_20170613_090834-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap IMG_20170613_080726-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap IMG_20170613_075813-1-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event RecapIMG_20170613_093215-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap
            IMG_20170613_093234-1-1-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event RecapIMG_20170613_093255-1030x773 Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap

            Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing

            What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing?

            Outsourcing software development can be a great way to save your company or organization time and money. However, if done haphazardly, it can also become a source of great headaches. It’s easy to make common mistakes, such as not clearly defining goals or expecting the process to magically produce results. It’s much harder to manage the process and see that it achieves the results you desire. Here are some do’s and don’ts of software outsourcing for you to consider as you get involved with software development outsourcing.

            Do Define Your Goals and Metrics

            One of the hardest things for any outsourcing services provider to deal with is a moving target. It’s important that you have clear planning documents in place that outline the goals for each project. Likewise, you also need to use clearly understood and widely trusted metrics to measure the success of a project. If you and your outsourcing provider agree on the measures of success, there’s a much better chance you’ll hit your target.

            Don’t Fire and Forget

            Handing a pile of specs to an outsourcing firm does not count as passing the project along. The process is inherently collaborative. It’s important that everyone on your side, the client side, stays engaged. When mockups come in, check them. When requirements are reportedly fulfilled, verify them. If errors occur, correct them. Do not plan to hand off the specs and just come back months later expecting to see a finished product.

            Do Put Processes in Place

            Every aspect of your project should have a clear process in place to ensure that both you and your outsourcing company understand what it means for a step to be considered complete. This means verifying that mockups are passed along and that both parties sign off on each step. Requirements for each stage should also be outlined clearly, and all parties involved should agree to them. Nothing dooms a project as fast as an ambiguous understanding of what it means for a step to be truly completed.

            Do Communicate Well

            This can be trickier than it sounds. Even if you’re running a North American firm that’s outsourcing to another firm on the continent, time differences matter. If your vendor doesn’t have flexible hours, then you’re likely losing collaboration time. For example, if a company in New York City is outsourcing to a firm in Vancouver, it’s important to know that the Vancouver folks are prepared to have someone show up early on some days to touch base with the New York crowd before the work day gets rolling.

            Don’t Judge on Price Alone

            One of the greatest temptations of outsourcing software development is to simply take the lowest price offered. This is a terrible idea. There are many tradeoffs required to get to the lowest price. Will you be dealing with people who speak your language natively? If the vendor is on the other side of the planet, will they even be able, at that price point, to have someone communicate with you live at a convenient time?

            Do Expect a Performance Curve

            If you’re beginning your first project with a specific vendor, it’s unrealistic to assume they will be able to just hit the ground running. Every outsourcing firm requires time to make sense of your company’s culture and figure out the best way to achieve the results you seek. Getting frustrated by this process can be very costly. There’s little benefit that can be expected by bouncing from vendor to vendor. Give vendors time to acclimate.

            Don’t Outsource Core Functions

            Some parts of your company just have to work. The best way to see that your operation works the right way is to ensure that core functions stay in-house. For example, if you ran a vinyl sign company, it would be insane to outsource your graphic design work. On the other hand, it might be perfectly reasonably to outsource backend coding for your website.

            Do Prepare for the Future

            No matter how strong your relationships may be with your current set of vendors, you need to know the market and be prepared for the future. If the day comes that your preferred vendor can no longer handle the scale of your work, you want to have a list of vetted alternatives in place. You can lose months of project time trying to find a new vendor.

            Don’t Use Outsourcing as a Stopgap

            Adding an outsourced software development team to your organization means incorporating it on a long-term basis. If you drop a project on an outsourcing company and then turn around expecting in-house people to maintain or even expand it, the results will be rubbish. It will may foster discontent among the in-house team. Look at long term partnerships where certain projects or tasks stay with your outsourcer and others stay with your in-house team. Your guys handling the outsourcing on your software will then become comfortable dealing with your in-house people handling core functions, and vice versa.

            Don’t Rely on Technology Alone

            There’s a lot to be said for getting in at least one face-to-face meeting, ideally more as required. Your vendor and you can both demonstrate commitment to the project. You also can interface more quickly. If at all possible, try to make in-person meetings part of the process.


            Outsourcing is an amazing tool for any company to have access to. It is important, however, to appreciate that it’s not magical. It’s a process that your organization has to fully accept and integrate. With the right checks and balances in place, you can ensure that your outsourced software development efforts achieve the results you want.

            Ultimately, successful IT outsourcing comes down to finding the right partner that fits with your organization and IT needs. Optimus Information has become a trust partner to companies of all sizes and in all verticals; we know what works and doesn’t work when it comes your your IT challenges and working with your organization. Hopefully, this article sheds light on some of these do’s and don’ts of software outsourcing.

            Contact us today for your next IT project. We’re always happy to help.

            Start outsourcing effectively. Download our How to Overcome IT Outsourcing Challenges whitepaper.

            (Note: This blog has been updated with new information)

            Tactical Outsourcing vs Strategic Outsourcing

            The term outsourcing scares people for various reasons, but there is no reason that it should. Outsourcing is very effective for certain situations, especially when developing software solutions. For a company to grow its internal IT department, it must search for a qualified candidate and go through the long process of interviewing, hiring, and training the new employee. This can take a long time and cost the company a lot of money. The alternative to this is outsourcing. But, what exactly is the difference between tactical outsourcing and strategic outsourcing?

            There are two main types of outsourcing that you can find for your IT needs: tactical and strategic.

            Tactical Outsourcing

            Tactical outsourcing refers to hiring a firm to perform specific development functions as part of your existing software development process. You retain oversight of the project, giving you more control over the process. This is very helpful if you need a project done on short notice because you can avoid the long process of searching for the right candidate.

            Tactical outsourcing is also helpful when you have a short-term need for a highly skilled developer in a specific technology that you do not normally use. A developer with the right skill set may be very difficult to locate, so going through a skilled tactical partner can mean fast turnaround and lower overhead than hiring internal resources.

            With tactical outsourcing, you maintain the planning process, including gathering requirements from stakeholders and designing the system that the developers will create. This increases management overhead, but it also allows you to have more control over the process and more knowledge about what is happening. They are familiar with your processes and answer to you throughout the process.

            Strategic Outsourcing

            Strategic outsourcing involves partnering with an IT company that provides top-down services. They handle the entire planning and development processes, leaving you free to focus more on other aspects of the business. This is nice for some companies because they are able to pay prices per project instead of per hour of work.

            With either type of outsourcing, you should address a few key points with your prospective outsourcing partner. The first is documentation because you never know what could happen in the future. If a support issue comes up or you need new functionality added to an existing product, you will need proper documentation to know how the product is supposed to work. Ensuring that your partner provides proper documentation, both in the code and out, can be vital to handling these situations.

            You should always provide full technical information about your requirements to your outsourcing partner. Leaving out any details could cause severe problems as you go through the process. Always remember to include all of your key decision makers and stakeholders in discussions to ensure that everybody’s goals align properly. Repeated changes over time can greatly increase the cost of any project, so planning everything up front is vital to a successful partnership.

            You should always examine your prospective partner’s portfolio, looking for consistent, high-quality performance over time. Not all outsourcing companies are equal, and even great companies may not be the right choice if their goals do not align with yours. It is also important to note for what industries the company has worked. If the company has worked for other companies in your industry, it could mean that they are already familiar with many of your processes and terminology, making communications much easier.


            Both outsourcing solutions could work for you, depending on your situation. Many companies prefer tactical outsourcing because it allows them to maintain more control over the process and usually means less of a commitment. However, the trade off is significantly more involvement from the client. 

            At Optimus, we find there is a lot to gain from ongoing strategic outsourcing partnerships, and clients typically reap more benefits: less hands-on management, higher quality work, faster delivery and greater flexibility.

            For an in-depth look at strategic outsourcing, check out our guide.

            Download our Guide to Strategic Outsourcing

            (Note: This post has been updated with new information.)

            What to Look for in an Outsourcing Partner

            How to know if an outsourcing partner is right for you?

            Bad experiences with an outsourcing partner are often traceable to badly designed selection processes or the use of deficient selection criteria. Whereas, you can find ample guidance online on how to build a robust selection framework, we will share the most important vendor attributes for comparing and contrasting outsourcing companies to ensure you select one right for you.

            Sizing a Vendor to Your Project

            When optimizing the capabilities of an IT provider to your project, size matters. If your organization can fund nine-figure deals, then the number of companies to field such a deal is not large, whereas for smaller projects you have a lot more choices.

            The key is to find a provider of a size that will consider your deal to be a big deal. This significantly increases the odds that your project receives the attention it deserves by having their most talented staff assigned to it. Additionally, right-sizing usually provides meaningful accommodation in contract terms and professional treatment from the executive staff.

            The risk of choosing an outsourcing partner that is too small, however, is that they may not have a sufficient level of technical capabilities, skilled staff, certifications or experience to deliver what you hope to accomplish.

            Local Presence with Global Delivery

            If your company is based in North America, then choose an outsourcing partner whose headquarters are there. They will better understand your industry, business model, goals and processes since you are working within a similar cultural context.

            Your company also benefits from local contractual protections should your project hit a serious speed bump. It also provides the distinct possibility that they can provide onsite staff at your site, which improves communication and timely escalation of critical issues.

            However, vendors that also provide delivery from offshore will save you money. Furthermore, vendors with a global presence could directly interact with your own global sites and offer the possibility to add shifts in other time zones that work collaboratively with your local staff, which provides you with 24-hours a day of development.

            Consistency in Quality and Delivery

            Until recently, the majority of IT outsourcing firms sold themselves mainly on cost and based contracts on hourly rates. These days, more companies compete on their ability to produce results. Those results should include both timely delivery and measurably high-quality products or services.

            During your due diligence, evaluate the vendor’s past work and pursue references to gauge how well the vendor has delivered on their promises. Have a detailed discussion with their senior staff about how their corporate culture reinforces the importance of on-time delivery and high quality throughout the ranks.

            When you are convinced they will deliver what they say they will, it is still prudent to start the relationship with one or more smaller projects of a few months in duration to validate their work and timeliness for yourself.

            Communication Capabilities

            Well-planned, thorough and frequent communication is critical when using an IT outsourcing partner. This goes double if the company you select has offshore resources, since both time and language may present communication barriers.

            How much, when and how you each of you communicates with the other should be driven by the client. Both sides must identify primary contacts for specific areas. These people must have seconds in cases where the primary is unavailable. Daily meetings with program and development managers are not unreasonable as are weekly meetings with BDMs or department managers. To gauge frequency, ask yourself how much time you can afford to lose should a process go astray.

            Vendors uncomfortable with your communication plan should raise a red flag with you, since this is such an essential element in your business relationship.

            Their Range of Skill Sets

            Except for the largest IT organizations, most companies do not have all the personnel with all the right skill sets for every project. When evaluating outsourcing partner’s technical and process capabilities, strike a balance between broad and deep skills that align with your business and project needs.

            If you hope for the vendor to work on more than one type of project or you wish to establish a long-term relationship, then one with a broader range of skills may work out better in the long run. A possible drawback is that a project comes along that is a mismatch for the vendor’s skills and quality suffers.

            Many enterprises today recognize that one size does not fit all, especially when working with small to mid-size IT outsourcing companies, so they choose to multi-source these services. This can complicate internal management of vendors, but often the point solutions that smaller vendors provide are of higher quality, with faster delivery and at the same or lesser cost.


            Proper selection of an IT outsourcing vendor will significantly augment your company’s strategy and operations. Lack of due diligence, however, often leads to negative consequences plus lost time and money.

            Use the selection criteria above along with a robust process comparing business requirements against each company’s pros and cons. This will lead to asking the right questions and building a seamless working relationship with a talented development provider.

            The Optimus Information model is designed to allocate the right mix of local and offshore resources in order to optimize expertise, speed and cost. We provide the ability for development teams to quickly add specialty skills to a development team without incurring long-term costs.Our successful track record speaks for it’s self, and we love to share past work we’ve done. Our global team is made up of a diverse range of experienced professionals, allowing us to work on complex solutions requiring a wide variety expertise. The result for our customers is the capability to far better manage resource capacities and outcomes.

            Contact us if for your next IT project. We’re always happy to help.

            Contact us now

            (Note: This blog has been updated with new information)

            Top Ten Software Development Outsourcing Trends for 2020

            What are the Top Ten Software Development Outsourcing Trends for 2020?

            Originally, the primary motivation to outsource software development was to achieve lower labor costs, but continuing and emerging business and technology trends in 2016 are leading to new client requirements on outsourcers. When choosing an outsourcing partner, more and more businesses are looking for closer alignment to their business goals, flexibility demands and quality requirements.

            Thus, clients are evaluating outsourcing companies via increasingly sophisticated criteria. The smartest software providers are reciprocating by developing new service models while taking advantage of many of the same technologies driving these current trends.

            1) Moving from Hours to Results

            In order to ensure that enterprises are getting what they need for their money, most are now seeking out providers who operate on a results-driven model versus rates based on time. Furthermore, clients are demanding that payment schedules be based on satisfactory achievement of those results versus upfront fees or retainers.

            2) Greater Flexibility

            Clients are looking for providers who provide on-demand services without locking them into long-term contracts or volume commitments. This enables client companies to respond more efficiently to rapidly changing market demands. In response, development providers who are moving operations to cloud resources are the ones most likely to adapt to the increased demand for flexibility.

            3) Utilization of DevOps Practices Continues Apace

            DevOps continues to attract adherents as it goes mainstream in up to 25 percent of companies this year, according to Gartner. Most of the IT departments in these organizations are transitioning to a service center model. Service providers who already operate in this manner will more easily blend into these organizations’ processes and decision-making apparatus.

            4) Security Risk Perception Increases

            A key concern within any outsourcing strategy is security. With the growing presence of the Internet of Things and the potential for an exponentially larger attack surface, software development outsourcing companies must ensure that their own security vulnerabilities are addressed in a manner that will win the confidence of client decision makers. Demonstrating solid track records and establish policies is of high importance when selecting a vendor.

            5) Managing Infrastructure as Code

            Amazon’s AWS has enabled the application of software development change management systems to development and deployment infrastructure. AWS is dedicated to making this paradigm increasingly easier with new APIs and services. Outsourcers who adopt this practice are reaping large benefits in their software support, testing and deployment efficiency by synching servers, storage and networking infrastructure to precise versions of the source code.

            6) Multi-Sourcing Technologies Impacts Integration

            Client companies are utilizing a more complex mix of software products and services this year. This multi-sourcing of technologies presents in-house management challenges, and a rise of new vendor management offices. The challenge for software providers is meeting new performance and integration standards from VMOs. Compliance failure may result in the outsourcer being dropped in the interests of streamlining operations.

            7) Business Process Outsourcing Being Replaced by Robotic Process Automation

            The software outsourcing industry in 2016 will continue to feel the influence of the rise of RPA. In fact, one of RPA’s touted benefits is the reduction of outsourcing, especially via cloud-based RPA services. Those outsourcers who can adapt by offering relevant automated services in the most responsive, scalable and efficient manner are the ones who can survive and profit from this trend.

            8) Outsourcing Selection is Speeding Up

            Along with the adoption of agile methodologies within software development, business decisions are also being made with more agility and higher velocity. Outsourcers will increasingly recognize this trend as more clients endeavor to close smaller deals faster in order to stay ahead of their competition.

            9) Adept Companies Are Being More Selective with What They Outsource

            Many organizations who originally turned to outsourcing to compensate for a lack of internal expertise and resources have grown more sophisticated over time. They are progressively learning to be more selective regarding what to do in-house versus handing off to an outsourcing provider. Organizations are looking deeper into what their core competencies are. And what they can outsource to make themselves more efficient in-house. Their motivations are usually the desires for greater flexibility, responsiveness or cost reductions. All of which software providers need to be sensitive to in contract negotiations.

            10) Outsourcing Company Accommodation Increasing

            It is no longer the case that companies seek out only the lowest cost provider. Sophisticated outsourcing companies will respond tactically and strategically to all the trends discussed here to grow or to survive. This trend is seen in the greater tendency for outsourcers to adapt and adjust terms or offer new services in an effort to deliver the best product and service.


            The outsourcing industry is more fluid than ever this year with clients focusing less on price per se and more on results, quality, integration, security and agility from software development providers. As you adapt to your own fast-moving markets and the rise of paradigm-shaking technologies such as IoT and on-demand infrastructure, so do we. Optimus stays two steps ahead in order to support your business in all your software and IT requirements.

            At Optimus, we consistently stay on top of these trends while leveraging the forces driving them to bring you the solutions you need. Contact us to help with your next development, testing, cloud, BI or mobile project.


            (Note: This post has been updated with new information)

            Cloud-Based Test Automation Tools and Benefits

            Acquiring and maintaining in-house testing platforms for even small-market software applications is expensive and time-consuming. If your software products include mobile applications that support thousands or millions of users, then the sheer scale of testing can overwhelm even well-stocked IT departments. Fortunately, with the availability of a multitude of cloud-based testing environments, there is a better way to meet your testing platform requirements that will cost less and improve efficiency.

            Multi-Faceted Cost Savings

            To start with, renting cloud-based testing environments means your company avoids huge capital equipment expenditures for servers, networking equipment, OS licenses and so on. Additionally, hardware and software maintenance costs plus the cost of personnel to manage such resources is borne by the cloud service. These are meaningful advantages for any company, especially for cash-strapped startups.

            Furthermore, you avoid depreciation costs on test platforms regardless of whether they are in-use or not. That advantage, along with knowing that test platform backups, upgrades, provisioning and configurations are taken care of automatically, brings a strong measure of stability to ongoing cost projections.

            On-Demand Testing Expedites Planning

            Multiple surveys have indicated that, due to the periodic nature of testing, most companies that maintain in-house testing infrastructure achieve less than 50 percent utilization of that infrastructure. Most cloud-based testing services enable scaling test infrastructure up and down at will, so you only pay for what you actually use at any given time.

            Instant scalability of hard testing resources provides an enormous benefit from a planning perspective. It eliminates the scenario where test platforms are acquired or re-commissioned in preparation for large-scale performance and load testing only to have them sit idle after development is delayed.

            Additionally, many cloud-based mobile-app testing services provide virtual access to large arrays of released or soon-to-be released mobile devices and various OS versions. When it comes time for full-scale compatibility testing, few companies are equipped with the necessary resources to duplicate such a large and diverse testing environment at almost a moment’s notice.

            Reducing False Defects Due to Inconsistent Configurations

            A large percentage of software defects can be traced to incorrect test environment configuration. For example, provisioning a platform with a specific OS version plus service packs, databases and third-party middleware or applications on which your software depends is an error-prone process to say the least. Cloud-based testing services excel at providing consistent test platform preparation backed by service level agreements, so that you can avoid wasting time and resources tracking down phantom bugs.

            Reducing In-House Test Applications

            Besides the advantages inherent in renting versus buying your test platform infrastructure, the best cloud-based testing services also offer world-class testing frameworks with which you can create, run and manage your test suites. This avoids the costs of licensing in-house testing tools plus the costs to install and maintain in-house tools.

            Increased Collaboration Improves Time-to-Market

            Furthermore, most cloud-based tools make a point of being user-friendly and only require access via a browser. Thus, greater accessibility to the tools, test suites and reports is achieved across development, test and business units. Access can be granted outside the company as well to provide transparency to clients.

            Most importantly, because testing resources and tools are virtualized, collaboration between developers and testers increases regardless of their physical locations and the time zones within which they perform their work. Testers can share results instantly via screen sharing with developers, which reduces communication failures and delays immeasurably.

            As software products become more complex, more distributed and release cycles are increasingly shorter, maintenance of internal testing infrastructure is increasingly impractical in terms of cost, quality and time-to-market. Although virtualization of such resources via cloud-based testing services will never completely replace internal testing, an emphasis on its use brings immense benefits. The reduction of capital expenditures, ongoing cost reductions, test platform scalability, planning flexibility and enhanced collaboration are advantages too great to ignore.

            A final key advantage to cloud-based testing services is that they can be sampled without incurring a large commitment by enterprises who desire hands-on experience of cloud-based testing relative to their particular situation. An experienced partner can save time and provide enlightening insights in this regard.