Writing code is hard. For some, this may come as a surprise, software quality assurance and testing are not easier. Of course, reporting bugs may not require too much technical skills. But the same cannot be said about evaluating a product from customer's perspective, understanding software product features, developing a test strategy, planning the test cases, picking which tools to use, and all of that within strict deadlines when a product was supposed to be ready yesterday and its release is today, especially while dealing with a very demanding customer. That's why the question "What does a quality assurance engineer do?" doesn't boil down to a simple answer.
Unscrupulous developers of different software may claim their code is perfect and flawless, but they know that ideal code is as real as unicorns. Even NASA has malfunction. Avoiding QA and testing results in serious challenges. It is the essence why we need quality assurance. But hiring more employees in staff to test software more often turns out to be inefficient. If you don't wish your software product to be associated with "bugs" and you can't hire experienced professionals but need them, you should think about involving external QA specialists. The question thus arises whether to outsource or crowdsource.
For those who are unfamiliar with the ideas of outsourcing and crowdsourcing
When we talk about an outsourcing model we mean involvement of external resources to accommodate the needs of the company. The company passes on managing some business processes to another company specializing in this area. These processes will be conducted through agreements between the companies. In simple words, an outsourcing company gives its staff for rent to other companies.
The word "crowdsourcing" is derived from the word for crowd and the idea of outsourcing. It is about making full use of the potential of the crowd for responding to various challenges.
The main difference between outsourcing and crowdsourcing lies in a kind of this external source - whether it will be a well-trained team or a crowd.
Now when we figured it out what is what, let's get back to QA and testing services.
We are moving along to advantages and disadvantages of software testing and QA outsourced and crowdsourced.
Undeniable benefits of both outsourcing and crowdsourcing are as follows:
- Both outsourcing and crowdsourcing ensure smooth working on your project. You won't deal with employees' vacations and sick leaves.
- Switching a service provider is easier than changing employees.
- An increase in the number of the staff is no longer needed.
- It allows to focus on core businesses that are effectively carried out by key staff of the company.
- It is possible to get services of a better quality or at a lower price.
There are also distinctions in using the two. These are described below.
Outsourcing quality assurance vs crowdsourcing: confidentiality and security
While developing a new app, it is essential to keep core details a secret from competitors. That's why an important point of software quality assurance and testing, having them both outsourced and crowdsourced, are confidentiality obligations. In other words, there should be a non-disclosure agreement that restricts access to information, confidential material of parties of this legal contract to outsiders.
Outsourced quality assurance and software testing usually includes signing of non-disclosure agreements. Besides, there is such an agreement between the outsourcing company and their QA and testing employees.
Clearly, one of the main disadvantages of crowdsourcing is lack of a high degree of confidentiality as crowdsourced software testing involves a large and, more importantly, an anonymous group of people. Some crowd testing providers do require testers to sign a NDA, and nevertheless they give access to every project's information to any registered community member. As you understand, such testers are from across the globe, they are from different countries and cultures, and a non-disclosure agreement to your project is difficult to provide to all of them. Besides, there is no guarantee there'll be neither hackers who can embed malicious code in your software, nor direct competitors among registered members.
Quality assurance outsourcing vs crowdsourcing: management
Competent instructions and management, use of standards and analysis of a project is a proven formula for quality. Coordinating work among QA engineers and testers, managing test runs and tracking test results require specific skills and knowledge.
QA outsourcing implies taking care of managing all resources, from selecting a suitable project manager who will do his best to understand your business and goals to being on the alert for costly mistakes.
With crowdsourcing there is an increased need for management oversight. You have to manage projects with a large scale of diverse testers instead of being more productive. Besides, the results can vary greatly with different testers .
Regarding time-zone challenges, it is so much easier to work with one team even if there is a large time zone difference, than with a pool of testers from all over the world.
QA outsourced vs crowdsourced: approach
One of the main goals of QA and testing is to find out what the customer wants from the product, what the requirements are and then to test the product according to these requirements. What is the first priority for a customer? Which problem does a customer want to solve with the software product? As you understand, software testing and quality assurance require particular approach.
Among the benefits of outsourcing are:
- Personal approach and deep involvement of a testing team into the project.
- Outsourced QA and testing team makes informed decisions instead of simple "bug notes".
- An outsourcing QA/testing team can perfectly determine client's requirements.
Just one question, will a crowdsourced tester pay such a close attention to your project?
Outsourced and crowdsourced testing: experience and qualification
Software testing and QA are practice areas that require application of certain skills. These tasks should not be undertaken by inexperienced rookies or unskilled workers.
Usually, a great QA team is familiar with phases of software development and should know how to apply this knowledge. When you outsource, as a rule, you get highly qualified QA test engineers with specialty or college degrees. For example, they can replicate critical and complex bugs, meaning QA engineers understand how the defect occurs, under what circumstances it occurs, which steps it is necessary to follow in order to find the defect.
What about crowd source testing? A crowd tester is paid against each bug he finds first, no matter how critical or complex it is. It is most probably, he won't look too closely at a project. Well, it's like they say, you wouldn't want to have an open-heart surgery performed by a crowd, would you?
Crowdsourcing vs outsourcing QA and testing: costs
It is worth to turn briefly to costs. Price always comes in a tight connection with quality and time. It is so called time cost quality triangle. You may want to have three, but you can never have them all.
Costs. Here is where crowdsourcing is the lowest price bidder. But when quality matters, outsourcing companies provide the most cost-effective price. We already know where compromising on quality is going. To further considerable costs.
And, bottom line
None of the companies can have sufficient resources to conduct a strict control of all processes and stages of production. That's why they resort to outsourcing or crowdsourcing (that also happens) in situations when it is necessary to perform certain works, which are non-core and secondary for their business. Software testing is one of those tasks that are fairly often delegated to external service providers. However, as in everything else in life, the short answer to "Should I outsource QA and testing or crowdsource?" is "It depends".