How can In-house QA teams work alongside freelancers or outsourced testing services? Is there a chance that there will be resentment, confusion, or just an overlap of work? In this blog we’ll look at a particular case study that shows how managers and team leaders can define boundaries and open channels of communication so these in-house QA teams can get the most support out of outsourced testing services.
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A large bank acquired a credit card company with the plan of carrying out internal setup migrations, including the branding exercise. However, there were a couple of issues ahead: the first being, the company’s diverse tech stack
which demanded extensive resource planning given the shortage of accessible skill sets. The second obstacle was related to the limited deadlines for integrating new credit card services.
In order to tackle these issues and make for a swift shift, the leadership team chose to work with an external testing services business. The in-house QA team would need to make room for the external team in order to collaborate toward the development of a strong test strategy and automation to produce a high-quality app.
At the start, both teams were excited and riding high on their goal of contributing and making a difference. Yet, little by little the challenges began to take their toll which was visible in the lack of focus and advancement. Test leaders from both the in-house and outsourced teams came together to look into the causes behind the derailment in order to better understand what was happening.
What’s the Role Do In-House QA Teams Play?
The issue faced by both these teams is not unique, as this is a common obstacle when in-house and outsourced teams are attempting to work alongside each other towards a common goal. But let’s start with the basics: what’s the role of internal QA teams?
In-house QA teams are charged with making sure that a company’s products and offerings adhere to quality guidelines. The team may include managers, testers, analysts, engineers, and other professionals who collaborate to deliver goods and services of the highest quality.
What Tasks Do In-house QA teams have ownership over?
An In-house QA team is likely to have ownership over certain tasks such as:
- Developing and implementing quality control processes and procedures to ensure that products or services meet established quality standards.
- Providing training and support to other team members on QA best practices, tools, and techniques.
- Conducting research and development to stay up-to-date with the latest technology, tools, and techniques for quality assurance.
- Collaborating with other teams, such as development, design, and project management, to ensure that quality is built into the product or service from the start.
- Participating in ongoing process improvement initiatives to continuously improve the quality assurance process.
Fast-paced organizations that prioritize solving real-world problems would not often choose to invest time and money in building a fully functional QA team from the ground up. Instead, they would use partners’ ecosystems to their advantage by hiring managed services and outsourcing testing activities.
How In-house QA Teams Set Boundaries and Define Ownership
Going back to the case study of the in-house and outsourced teams, several brainstorming meetings were held to discuss the issues at hand, as well as any potential remedies. While everyone on the team was focused on driving quality, each teammate was running on their own.
In an effort to set boundaries for test activities, the teams had neglected to establish a shared understanding of their collaboration. To prevent assumptions and data leaks, any hybrid team needs clearly defined boundaries and well-defined ownership over tasks and goals.
There are four areas that require attention to detail:
- Test reporting
When a team is made up of both in-house and external members, each side must select a representative to articulate the proceedings clearly.
Admin team responsibilities can include but are not limited to:
- Onboarding/Exit Process: Representatives from each team are in charge of all legal actions when a new resource joins or leaves the team. This can work in terms of knowledge transfer, contracts, workplace allocation, device configurations, handovers, etc.
- Communication: Ensuring the information flow is smooth within the team and is not getting held up along the way.
- Budget Management: Team administrators are tasked with all negotiations and budgetary planning when it comes to tool licenses, allocating new devices, applying system patches, etc.
- Change in Management: The admins of both of these teams should discuss every detail pertaining to a change in the project’s scope, any extra inclusions, a reduction in resources, etc. Afterward, they’ll relay these details to their respective teams.
Several inconsistencies were found during the execution of the project shared by both teams. When working together, both teams should determine certain key elements for testing.
- Test Techniques: Both teams selected their own methodologies, leading to a discrepancy between the overall execution and evaluation criteria. When working alongside each other, both teams should come together to establish methodologies for both.
- Test Strategy: This is a systematic approach to addressing complex issues or challenges that involves analyzing the current situation, identifying objectives, developing a plan of action, and allocating resources to achieve the desired outcomes. In the case of the collaboration, there was no test strategy requiring the teams to establish one. Both teams worked together to identify their respective strengths, weaknesses, and skill gaps to build a solid test strategy.
- Test Planning: Both in-house and external QAs determined the testing scope and assigned who’d be tasked with which area of the application. This stops teams from overlapping in their efforts.
Test reporting is an essential aspect of software testing, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved.
The internal and external QA teams defined and agreed on when and how the test reporting should work. Among these were:
- A common reporting template with shared branding (as both teams were working on a common goal).
- A well-defined reporting requirement.
- Frequency of reporting (progress reports – weekly once, risk reports, monthly once, Milestone reports- quarterly, etc).
- Defined parameters that can determine what constitutes progress.
- New Initiatives with credits.
- Observations and blockers (technical, functional, operational, etc).
- Test effort planned and implemented, as well as lessons learned.
Following the launch, features and functions will still need to be periodically maintained and checked to ensure that they meet all required quality requirements. In order to establish a routine check for the functions offered, teams use test automation.
Both the in-house and the outsourced QA teams unanimously agreed to share the test automation activities. They worked on a number of POCs before settling on one tool. However, this time, the teams were careful to clarify the areas of duties and communication routes before beginning the task.
Both teams were able to conduct the project smoothly with little-to-no delays by defining boundaries, tasks, objectives, and roles.
Collaboration Leads to Quality
Establishing a shared understanding is essential for the success of any project. It promotes clear communication, consistency, collaboration, improved decision-making, and increased stakeholder satisfaction.
Ensuring that teammates, stakeholders, and clients have a common understanding of the project’s goals, requirements, and expectations, allows for the project to be completed successfully and meet its intended outcomes.