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How to Mitigate the Risks of QA Outsourcing

Alina Karachun Account Director, a1qa

According to IMARC Group, the global IT outsourcing market will grow to $720.2 billion by 2028. In particular, quality assurance (QA) outsourcing—delegating responsibilities for maintaining and improving software quality to a third-party vendor—is a big part of this.

The demand for QA outsourcing has been on the rise for several years. This approach brings a set of vital benefits to companies, allowing them to:

  • Optimize QA costs
  • Tackle the shortage (or total absence) of in-house QA specialists
  • Bridge the gaps in technologies and skills
  • Fit into a tight project timeline

4 Risks of QA Outsourcing

Despite these benefits, however, outsourcing software testing presents four substantial risks:

1. Loss of control

Entrusting quality management to a third-party team of QA testers can lead to various project issues. If you outsource QA and testing to a third-party agency, the management and control over those business aspects shift to that company. Decision making on QA and testing tasks goes to an outsourcing vendor if you don't clearly articulate your goals, expectations, and involvement before signing the contract.

2. Additional costs

A lack of attention to software quality can be costly. In a December 2022 report, the Consortium for Information and Software Quality (CISQ) estimated the cost of poor software quality in the US to be at least $2.41 trillion.

Professional testing services can be expensive, however. Therefore, it is vital to consider many cost-related factors when selecting a QA vendor—including location, project timeline, scope, complexity, and the experience of the QA engineers themselves. You should also assess factors that typically drive testing services' additional costs, such as after-hours services, troubleshooting, and staff training.

3. Miscommunication

If your QA vendor's testing team is located offshore, language barriers and a lack of interaction can present further complications—leading to misunderstandings among team members and impeding quality.

4. Security issues

Entrusting QA to a third-party vendor can cause security risks. When hiring outsourced experts, you let a team of external specialists delve into internal projects. You may also give your outsourcing provider access to systems that host critical business data—including confidential information on employees, vendors, management boards, and customers. Without strict safety measures in place, this sensitive information can be compromised due to data breaches, insider threats, or the like.

3 Steps for Mitigating the Risks of QA Outsourcing

Fortunately, risks related to QA outsourcing are manageable with a well-weighed strategy—consisting of three steps:

Implement Tools and Tactics for Clear Communication

To overcome the loss of visibility and control with a QA vendor, you'll need to ensure cooperation and clear communication between your company and your outsourced QA team—ensuring that your internal product owners can effectively convey an optimal vision of the end product to the outsourced team.

Discuss all aspects of your cooperation in advance—including tech stack used, approaches, and risk mitigation plans. You can also organize regular meetings with team members to keep in touch with them and improve working relationships.

Bear in mind that outsourcing vendors are often located in another country and time zone. To adhere to a project's timeline, you should set up regular video meetings with the offshore team members. This assists in checking their progress, exploring the hurdles they face, and offering actionable solutions. (Be sure to create a communication channel with encrypted connections that supports secure data transfer.)

Language compatibility is another important factor to consider when choosing an outsourcing vendor. To minimize risks and lessen stress, you may first want to do research to find a company with a suitable level of language skills.

You should also try deploying project-management tools—to always get and provide access to an overview of tasks and their prioritization, responsibilities, resources, deadlines, etc. Set up regular reporting or status-update activities so that you can track the project progress, be aware of arising challenges, and keep abreast of further plans.

Adhere to a Quality-over-Price Approach

Prioritizing paying a low price for software-testing services doesn't pay off. Instead, it can result in confronting either security or quality risks or both. When choosing a QA vendor, it's always better to put quality above cost. To select a suitable vendor, you should:

  • Compile a list of QA suppliers with relevant experience
  • Review their respective portfolios
  • Discuss projects that resemble yours with the provider and clarify their approach to quality and established QA practices
  • Review candidates' security practices and compare against your own security practices and priorities
  • Get regular feedback from the client to identify QA issues

Set Up Comprehensive Security Measures

Enabling secure cooperation with a QA vendor requires three preventive measures:

  1. Signing a nondisclosure agreement (NDA): The document outlines the confidential information the two parties share and forbids disclosing this data to any third party.
  2. Analyzing vendors' security capabilities: Prior to choosing an outsourcing vendor, figure out whether they have previous experience working with confidential clients' data and ask about their approach to data protection. Also, you may ask them to follow security standards applied within your company (such as those established according to ISO 27001).
  3. Performing regular cybersecurity testing: Work with your cybersecurity teams and providers to test your outsourcing environment. Vulnerability scanning, for instance, helps detect security loopholes in the network that hackers can exploit; penetration testers and ethical hackers, meanwhile, perform mock attacks on the system. After the test, QA specialists can identify and seal any security weaknesses to ensure that cybercriminals can't reuse them for another attack. Additionally, the QA experts can analyze the factors contributing to security deficiencies and offer strategies to address them effectively.

The crucial point here and throughout is to choose a reliable QA-testing vendor—one that combines IT expertise with excellent work quality and best security practices.

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