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  • Cotopaxi Lyon

Why You Should (or Shouldn't) Outsource QA

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Outsourced Quality Assurance - what a divisive topic!

As you likely guessed, we’re an outsourced QA shop.

With that, we wont pretend that we don’t have biases regarding in house vs outsourced QA. Interestingly enough, though, we often talk about our work kinda like therapy. After intensive work together, we help a client get setup to go out on their own with in house QA. Sometimes there are some check ins, or brief help needed, and we’re here to continue to support them. For other clients we're the long term support, taking all the QA lift. Either way, we are here to celebrate our clients' successes and help them succeed in whatever way they need.

If that’s the case, why do we recommend/promote outsourced QA?

While there are a lot of reasons, from challenges in hiring high quality QA to the benefits of being able to scale as needed, one of the biggest reasons is how important an outside set of eyes can be.

A great, and honestly quite embarrassing example:

My team and I spent countless hours on our LyonQA website. We checked links, reviewed copy, verified display on mobile and screen size etc. While we knew there were likely little issues, we were sure that all major issues had already been found and corrected. After two weeks of the website being live we were meeting with an SBA advisor who called out that one of our headings read “Human Lead Solutions” instead of “Human Led Solutions.” I totally take the blame for that one, but would I’d like it known that I’m incredibly dyslexic, and the English language is awfully confusing. With that, we had had tons of eyes on it and somehow none of us noticed it. It took an outsider about 10 seconds to see the issue.

Brains are fascinating things and when deep in a project they blind us to that which we don’t expect to see. Even when we think we can step back and thoroughly review our work our brains have already prepped us for what to expect, at times leading us to miss what is right in front of our eyes.

Alternatively, while being fully imbedded one understands how x is supposed to work - due to years of experience, or understanding Product and Dev’s plan for the feature - and may not question the “why”, or what the ramifications are. Sometimes knowing “that’s just the way it is” blocks one from pushing for change, or a better explanation of why.

While this perceptual blindness is enough of a reason for outsourced QA, we’ve also found that a lot of companies have power dynamics that silence internal QA. Being an internal member of the team, having one's livelihood depend on how well they navigate tough situations, will effect how hard they advocate for what they feel is needed.

How often is internal QA actually given the power to put their foot down and stop a release? Or to take the time to run a full regression? Granted, we’re not going to lie and tell you that 100% of the time we’re listened to and a release is blocked when it needs to be. But, more often than not, we are able to negotiate for quality needs.

Finally, outsourced QA often bring experience from a variety of products, bringing their knowledge of where issues are most likely to occur to your product, helping preemptively identify where bugs may pop up. You’d be surprised at how predictable it is to find bugs involving time zone discrepancy or database sorting.

So, do we really advocate for outsourced QA over in house?

Honestly, no. We advocate for high quality QA in whatever form it takes.

The following factors are going to make the biggest difference for your organization:

  • the quality of your QA team or hire - especially their socio-emotional intelligence and communication skills,

  • the internal dynamics of your organization and if QA has the power to fully advocate for the product’s quality needs, and

  • your development and communication processes.

You may find that having outsourced QA helps you build an organization that espouses quality through the development process, or brings new eyes to the table, but with intentionality that can also be done with in house QA.

Let us know if you’re trying to figure out what is right for you! We love talking to teams to help find the right fit for their unique needs.

Have thoughts on outsourced QA vs in house? We're all ears!


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