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    From Average to Outstanding: The Importance of Independent Software Testing Services in Business

    Julia Teryokhina, Senior Presales Engineering Manager

    June 19, 2024

    Developing software is a costly business, and there is always a temptation to cut expenses by taking on some team functions internally. Testing often seems to be the simplest part.

    However, this is a significant misconception: proper QA services are just as crucial as professional coding. Consider high-profile cases like Toyota’s unintended acceleration (2009-2010), where software flaws led to multiple accidents and a massive recall, or the bug in the Windows 10 October update (2018), which caused users’ files to be deleted resulting in significant data loss and widespread frustration.

    At the same time, it’s essential to complement the internal QA team with independent software testing services. In-house QA can face challenges such as bias and limited perspective, while independent testing brings an objective viewpoint, free from internal pressures, with broader expertise from various projects and industries. Overall, professional testing is crucial for building a strong culture of software quality, ensuring the reliability, security, and usability of products.

    The integral role of QA team

    Although it may seem easy, software testing is more than just clicking buttons. The quality assurance process entails multiple steps, with significant emphasis on preparation and documentation: crafting a test plan, developing test cases, scrutinizing software requirements and UI design, generating test data, and configuring necessary environments. Choosing the appropriate tools to track identified issues (such as Atlassian Jira or JetBrains YouTrack) and ensuring the maturity of quality assurance procedures are critical. They eliminate wasting time resources and offer prompt feedback on the build’s suitability for further testing. Robust QA processes mitigate scenarios where rectifying one bug introduces new ones or the implementation of a new feature destabilizes the entire application. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Beyond functional testing, QA shoulders the responsibility for software security, performance, and usability. Although it might seem that involving the QA team at the final stage of development for acceptance testing is sufficient, this is a misconception. Quality assurance specialists should be actively involved throughout all stages of software development, starting with validating UI design and requirements. The earlier a problem is detected, the cheaper it is to fix. By the time the software reaches the acceptance testing stage, it should have already been thoroughly examined and be operating according to specifications.

    Independent Software Testing Services

    A valid reason behind having a dedicated QA team over programmers verifying their own code is that QA engineers and software developers typically have slightly different goals: programmers aim to make the code functional, while testers strive to uncover defects with negative scenario testing. This collaboration, where programmers create and QA specialists try to break, offers significantly more advantages than relying solely on developers, regardless of their skill level.

    What does the customer receive from the QA team’s work? Primarily, a report on the quality of the developed system. Detailed reports show not only the current state of the software being developed but also trends in quality changes, using historical data and various QA metrics (such as the percentage of reopened bugs, the percentage of passed test cases, etc.). Additionally, a proficient QA department offers recommendations on priorities for the next build release. While there may not always be an obvious issue, they can identify indicators that suggest a potential problem under certain conditions.

    To ensure high-quality software, particularly when the cost of errors is significant, it is wise to involve an independent testing team. Companies that provide software testing as a service can deliver the best results thanks to certified professionals who adhere to international testing standards such as ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 and ISO/IEC 25010:2023. Additionally, these independent teams prioritize the software customer’s interests, unlike internal QA specialists who are closely aligned with the development team.

    Independent software testing: benefits and risks

    Engaging independent testing services is like hiring a professional taster for your cooking – they provide candid feedback, but they might also uncover some unexpected ingredients. Meanwhile, an in-house QA team is familiar with your recipe, but may miss out on fresh perspectives.

    The primary benefits of involving an independent software testing team are:

    • Objective perspective: A third-party QA team offers an unbiased viewpoint, unaffected by internal company dynamics or pressures. 
    • Specialized expertise: Outsourced testing teams often bring a wide range of competencies and insights from working across different sectors and projects. 
    • Cost-effectiveness: Hiring external QA specialists can be more cost-effective as it eliminates the need for investing in infrastructure, training, and ongoing employment costs associated with an in-house team. 
    • Scalability: Outsourced teams offer the advantage of seamless scalability according to project needs, delivering unparalleled adaptability and responsiveness.
    • Compliance and standards: Third-party software testing teams are often well-versed in industry standards and regulatory requirements, helping ensure compliance. 

    Best practices and tools: By outsourcing QA services, you typically gain access to the most up-to-date industry standards and advanced testing technologies, enhancing the overall quality assurance process.

    Independent Software Testing Services

    Despite the considerable benefits, engaging a third-party team in the testing process comes with certain risks:

    • Lack of context: Independent QA specialists may not fully grasp the company’s internal processes, culture, and specific project requirements, potentially leading to misaligned testing priorities.
    • Communication barriers: Interaction between an outsourced quality control engineers and internal developers or stakeholders may be less streamlined compared to in-house teams, resulting in delays or misunderstandings.
    • Limited integration: External QA specialists may face challenges integrating with internal systems, tools, or processes, potentially hindering collaboration and efficiency.
    • Confidentiality concerns: Sharing sensitive project information with third-party software testing teams may raise concerns about data privacy, confidentiality, and intellectual property protection.

    While there are cons mentioned above, the pros of engaging an external team for quality assurance far outweighs them. With effective management, these drawbacks can be completely mitigated.

    Independent testing as part of quality-centric culture

    To avoid watching competitors swiftly depart on a train of progress while you stay behind, it’s wise to nurture a quality-driven approach. No matter how compelling a product idea may be, poor implementation can sabotage its success. Culture of quality is a business-centric approach that fosters a mindset and practices focused on achieving high-quality outcomes in every aspect of software development.  This includes:

    • Continuous improvement: Emphasizing ongoing refinement of processes and practices to enhance quality.
    • Collaboration: Encouraging teamwork and communication across departments to ensure alignment and shared goals.
    • Customer focus: Putting the needs and satisfaction of end-users at the forefront of decision-making and product development.
    • Accountability: Holding individuals and teams responsible for the quality of their work and outcomes.
    • Automation: Harnessing modern tools to automate repetitive activities and optimize workflows, minimizing the potential for human mistakes.
    • Data-driven decision-making: Employing data analytics to guide choices and enhance quality and efficiency.

    All of these aspects can be effectively managed through QA testing as a service. It’s also worth noting that companies specializing in outsourcing testing services are increasingly leveraging AI tools to bolster task automation and data analysis.

    However, creating a quality-driven culture requires more than just hiring seasoned developers and QA specialists. It entails ensuring that all processes work seamlessly together. This is where DevOps comes into play by implementing continuous integration of changes and timely quality checks. Skilled DevOps specialists can help mitigate the inevitable risks associated with outsourcing or other activities, even when the DevOps service itself is third-party. Furthermore, DevOps plays a crucial role in controlling technical debt by ensuring code quality and performance.

    Trends in QA testing services

    Considering recent advancements in software development—such as AI evolution, virtual and augmented realities, digital assets, virtual payments, and smart devices—the demand for high-quality software is more critical than ever. The cost of errors is growing exponentially, affecting users of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Key trends in QA services include:

    • Shift-left testing: This proactive approach integrates testing at the initial stages of design and development, allowing defects to be identified and corrected earlier, thus reducing costs and time-to-market. 
    • Shift-right and Chaos Engineering: This type of testing evaluates software in real-world production environments. A well-known example is Netflix, where engineers intentionally create glitches during real-world performance testing. Tools like Chaos Monkey randomly shut down service instances in production, and Chaos Kong simulates large-scale outages. Latency Monkey introduces artificial delays into the network, and Doctor Monkey checks and terminates unhealthy instances. These techniques help Netflix identify weaknesses, improve system resiliency, and maintain service reliability during unexpected failures. 
    • Automation testing: Introducing automated validation throughout all aspects of the software system minimizes manual effort, accelerates the testing process, and maintains consistency. 
    • Security testing: As smart gadgets become integral to our daily lives, security is more crucial than ever. Cybercriminals now use AI and social engineering to launch sophisticated attacks. Identifying vulnerabilities and ensuring software protection against potential threats can safeguard both data and user trust.
    • Performance engineering: Beyond simple performance testing, performance engineering focuses on designing systems for optimal performance from the ground up. This is where the QA team works closely with solution architects.
    • Leveraging AI and machine learning in testing: AI and ML can predict potential defects, optimize test cases, and automate complex testing scenarios.
    • Ethical and usability testing to cover DEI principles: Ensuring that software is inclusive and accessible is becoming a critical aspect of quality assurance. Ethical and usability testing focuses on delivering software that adheres to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles, providing a better user experience for all demographics.

    To stay ahead, QA engineers must refine their skills, gain certifications, and collaborate closely with developers, designers, and business analysts. Adapting to these trends and leveraging independent testing services can provide an objective perspective, specialized skills, and cost efficiencies. This ensures software meets the highest standards, giving businesses a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced market.

    Independent testing services by Timspark

    We cover a whole range of independent software testing services, across diverse industries, employing best practices and cutting-edge AI testing tools like various AI-plugins for Selenium, SmartBear VisualTest, and more. Our team of highly experienced QA engineers, many of whom are certified by ISTQB and CMSQ, ensures the creation and support of tailored testing processes. 

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