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Let’s compare hiring a pro vs. borrowing resources for software testing.

The software development project has come so far, and everyone can see that the end is near. Likely, you’re doing Agile development and have been doing in-sprint testing along the way.  Maybe you’re pretty sophisticated and have been doing test automation along the way.  But, whether Agile or Waterfall, you likely want to do a comprehensive regression test before going live.  Perhaps the development team has done some along the way with unit testing, code inspections, and possible their own QA code analysis tools and everyone feels ahead of the game already!

The next thing to do is to check the budget to see how that’s looking. Well… maybe it has been banged around a little along the way. How might some dollars be saved? Of course! Using internal resources to complete the testing phase (which won’t go toward the budget at all) might be your first thought. These subject matter experts (SMEs) have already been lending a hand throughout the project with their insight. They are perfect candidates to complete the testing, right? Let’s explore that today.

Have you seen something like this represented before?

You’ve probably seen something similar, but not quite. Quality is sometimes one of the outer points of the triangle rather than the center. We put quality in the middle because it is the center of today’s topic. This is the delicate balance that every project manager must deal with. Try to change any of these three items, and the other two will also change to accommodate. Whenever there is a shift in the original plan, the first thing to turn to is how that change will affect this delicate balance because you cannot change JUST ONE.

Time savings

On one hand, your SMEs are right here, right now, so there are significant time savings that would have otherwise been spent interviewing, hiring, and onboarding a testing team. This is sounding more and more like a great idea already, right?

On the flip side however, they will need to be trained on how to properly test, including what the process looks like, logging defects, what exactly is a defect, and more. How long will that take?

The other consideration is the quality that this team of resources brings to the testing event. The development team might be able to help with some steps, but they don’t always understand the end-picture that the SME expects. This can create a disconnect, and neither the development team nor the SEM has the skills to identify and compensate for that disadvantage.

Finally, what is the cost of missed defects that make their way to production? An inexperienced team is likely to have a significantly higher rate of missed defects.

Compare a professional testing team

Due to the core competencies a testing team possesses, means that they can jump right in and get started with minimum onboarding. They write quality scripts to provide the best chances of identifying defects quickly and efficiently. Not only will they acclimate quickly to the task, but their execution is much faster, for they know what to seek and what to expect.

Cost savings

Since SMEs already work for the company, there’s no additional cost to pull them in to do testing for the team, right? A wise leader will look at the bigger picture here.

First, these internal resources are on loan – meaning that their participation for the project has already resulted in lost productivity in their ‘day jobs.’ Their team is either taking a hit on productivity or has supplemented their role with another resource. Their leadership has agreed to a specific amount of allocation to the project. That cost has already inflated somewhere in the organization even if it is not directly listed on the budget. Increase the demand of these resources beyond a tolerance threshold, and it may not be surprising if there is an internal cost transfer. This transfer is to compensate for those losses that the loaning organization has been gracious about up until now.

The slower testing pace of SMEs means they spend more time than is necessary, but they are also generally more expensive that professional testers.. Finally, there is the resulting technical debt, which is the cost of ongoing defects that go undetected due to lack of formal testing experience. These defects result in additional development time, or even worse, reduced productivity or loss of customers after implementation. Another harder result to attach a cost to, is the reduced morale that comes with a sub-par product which results from insufficient testing.

Compare to a professional testing team

The professional testing team brings with them processes and practices to operate at a peak level of efficiency. Their engagement provides the smallest risk for undetected defects and the lowest result of technical debt. SME resources can return to productivity in their day jobs.

 

Resource savings

It is probably evident at this point that there are no savings in resources when using SMEs versus a professional team because you need resources either way. A primary difference is in the availability of those resources, but a secondary (and often overlooked) impact is that the borrowed SMEs generally have a full day job and are asked to do testing after hours.  Thus, you run the risk of burning them out.

Compare to a professional testing team

Here is where the difference really presents itself in an obvious way. A professional team operating at peak efficiency requires fewer resources to accomplish a higher quality of work than the SME resources.

This saves the budget associated with the duration of time the resources are needed, such as extended development for defects discovered after implementation. It saves the cost of lost productivity from an implementation that did not meet expectations or the cost of lost business when software misses the mark for the customer.

A professional testing team saves the project’s time budget. A professional team leader provides an accurate estimate of the time required based on the scope of the testing needed. Their increased efficiency and processes ensure that more defects are identified, which lowers the risk of technical debt going forward.

Finally, a professional team saves resources by first sending the SMEs back to their own team. The trained eyes by a professional team increases the likelihood of detecting defects, which increases the productivity of the development team to quickly repair the bugs identified as well as their dependencies. This level of detail is often missed at the SME level, resulting in more re-work.

Conclusion: bring in the pros

Planning for a professional testing team in a project brings the highest level of effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to software testing. A professional testing team bring values in increasing the level of efficiency for the development team as well. This “bonus” brings additional value to the project on all three angles of time, resources, and cost.

We at Lighthouse Technologies are that very resource you seek. Our tools, methods, and thought leadership bring a new level of efficiency to your organization that will not only make a positive impact on this current project, but the lessons learned will help your teams on all future projects. That value goes above and beyond a single project scope.  Where are your challenges? We can likely help!

 

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PMIASQIEEESoftware Engineering InstituteInternational Software Testing Qualifications Board