When developing IT solutions for your or your client’s business, you must ensure maximum quality through test automation as a service.
Only this way can you release a digital product to the target market on time and mitigate potential risks.
Experts at ZappleTech, with over 10 years of experience in this segment, emphasize the importance of test automation for the viability of IT solutions.
Table of Contents
The Specificity of Test Automation as a Service
Interesting forecast: According to The Business Research Company, the testing market is expected to reach $70.69 billion by 2027. This reflects the popularity of such services among developers, stakeholders, and product owners.The test automation as a service model means that a digital product receives support from external experts for a defined period. The cost of these services is lower than equivalent in-house processes.
Challenges of Test Automation as a Service
In QA automation testing services, challenges are primarily related to project management. While not critical, they require additional attention from product owners (POs) and the quality assurance team.
Let’s look at the most common challenges.
Feasibility of Automation
Not everything needs to be automated, especially if your IT solution’s scale is limited and functionality is not critical. Trying to cover everything with algorithms at once can create additional problems for the QA team, developers, project managers, etc.
Selection of Tools and Technologies
Avoid minimizing the number of project tools for the sake of cost savings or practicality. This can lead to low testing quality, overlooked bugs, and low team productivity. Discuss tool selection with the QA service provider.
Choosing the Right Contractor
Select project execution responsibly. Avoid minimizing costs by hiring newcomers or teams with a questionable reputation. Trust dedicated QA teams with positive reviews from previous clients and individual budget formation.
Ensure you genuinely need to automate the digital product’s verification rather than conduct a series of simpler tests.
In Which Cases Is Test Automation as a Service Necessary?
There is a clear list of cases when QA automation provides benefits and fully justifies the costs of involving a specialized team in the project. This primarily applies to large-scale projects with numerous points that need to be checked within a limited time.These cases can be identified by four key criteria:
If your project extends beyond six months, it automatically falls into the large-scale category. Even with limited critical functions, the complexity, tech stack, and detailed elaboration of each line of code indicate the need for thorough testing. Automation of most tests becomes crucial.
Numerous Repetitive Cases
When developing multiple iterations of a digital solution simultaneously, such as desktop, mobile, and web versions of a program or application, you need to ensure the product works correctly on all platforms. Applying automation to QA processes and algorithms is not enough; parallelizing tests (running multiple checks simultaneously in various cloud emulators) is also essential.
Each new member of the QA team adds costs to the project and incurs losses for your company (expenses without short-term ROI). What if several testing brigades are working on your development simultaneously? Automation allows achieving better results with fewer resource commitments. You only need a few QA engineers to cover all key focus points with tests and algorithms.
Continuous Project Support
When creating a system that will scale and modernize in the future, it’s crucial to ensure its ongoing automated testing. This is necessary to monitor the impact of even the most minor changes on functional stability and control potential bugs between iterations.
It’s understood that manual testing by QA team experts will still perform some tests in any case. However, sometimes, service providers may completely refuse to automate checks.
When Can You Do Without Test Automation as a Service?
In general, all critical checks are performed manually, then programmed and launched as a program that emulates the tester’s actions. Understandably, preparing for automation is quite a lengthy, complex process and not always economically justified. Sometimes, closing the project without automation is cheaper and faster.
The smaller the development scale, the less advisable test automation becomes. The team spends significantly more time and resources programming algorithms than conducting manual checks for each component. If you’re developing a corporate website with purely informative content, it’s much more advantageous to hire a small team of manual testers than QA automation engineers.
Absence of Critical Issues
When the software solution’s functionality or interface lacks sensitive components critical to the project’s viability, you can do without test automation. In other words, manually check existing elements (if the deadline allows) and close the project with optimal quality. This is particularly true for a product with a single iteration (platform) available.
Few Focus Points
Typically, the initial iteration of an IT solution is the MVP, whose task is to convince the audience of the solution’s utility and attract users. To achieve this initial goal, it’s sufficient to invest in developing the IT solution and manually testing it. Moreover, automation involves nuances that can potentially have a negative impact on your project.
Reasons Why Test Automation as a Service May Prove Ineffective
At ZappleTech, we often hear from clients that automation has been ineffective for them. This negative perception led companies to shift to fully manual QA with all its consequences (speed, coverage, efficiency).In practice, there are cases where automation is ineffective, leading to its combination with mQA. To reach this point, it’s crucial to identify the source of issues and address them.
Wrong Contractor Choice
The first issue with QA automation is the immediate project executor. Lack of team experience, attempting to automate everything at once, and a flawed testing concept all contribute to project failure, missed deadlines, or low product quality. To mitigate such situations, choose and hire test automation engineers with experience in efficiently setting up processes and balancing testing methods.
Weak QA Strategy
The second problem stems from the first. If your executor is not knowledgeable about the specifics of different industries and testing methods, they won’t be able to build an effective architecture for testing the digital product. It’s important for the strategy to include a set of tools and coverage theses for testing IT solutions and to be supported by concepts.
Mismatch of Technical Tools to Project Needs
Regarding tools, it’s not enough to simply choose a “universal” framework and automate all components with it. Even a hypothetical Selenium is not designed to comprehensively automate everything in a project. It is crucial to effectively combine specialized tools, use specific tools for certain components, and integrate them within one testing environment.
You’ll need additional mechanics, such as monitoring QA efficiency and success, to understand that something is wrong with the project.
Evaluating the Success of Test Automation as a Service
To determine how effective your contractors are, additional technical knowledge and deep management are required. Implement an extended quality control program for internal company processes and teams.
We recommend not reinventing the wheel but applying popular practices to enhance efficiency. You can combine them with Agile and DevOps, modify, expand, and adapt as needed.Mykhailo PoliarushCEO, ZappleTech Inc.
In the end, you should achieve a high level of productivity and transform your regular PM into a guru who effectively manages project processes.
Setting Realistic KPIs
Refrain from inflated requirements and expectations. Don’t set goals to automate and thoroughly check everything within a limited period. Optimization tactics will help set realistic goals and move efficiently toward them without exhausting QA service providers and other project participants.
Add a risk management program to the corporate concept of management. It’s needed far beyond controlling team performance in QA. For example, you can build a strategy based on forecasts, statistics, and experience. This allows mitigating potential risks and reacting to problems in projects and beyond in a restrained and effective manner.
Setting Goals and Priorities
During the pre-production phase, discuss and design typical user stories with BAs, POs, and PMs. This will help you identify key focus points for QA teams and ensure maximum quality for the digital product regarding functionality, UI/UX, performance, stability, security, etc.
Proactive Process Monitoring
Be part of the project. Monitor the state of the digital product throughout all its development stages and integrations. Participate in team meetings and discuss identified and potentially possible IT solution bugs. Offer your own ideas for problem resolution, analyze contractor suggestions and team leaders.
This is critical not only for your understanding of the project, but also for motivating the teams working for you.
Comparing Results with QA Project Goals
Throughout the development cycle, your PM should conduct meetings, ideally weekly. Introduce the practice of comparing actual results with planned goals. Check whether there’s a shift in the team’s focus and whether they correctly identify current automation priorities. This is crucial because, in the end, even for the MVP stage, your critical functionality should work flawlessly. Secondary issues can be addressed later.
What needs to be determined in advance is the toolkit for automating the testing of your project.
Choice and Integration of Frameworks and Technologies
Key note and recommendation: always consult with the contractor regarding automation tools instead of imposing your own priorities. Here’s the explanation: if, for example, you hire QA engineers from ZappleTech, the team already has an established arsenal of technical and technological tools that have been effectively used for years to provide services to clients.
Moreover, the tech stack of development practically does not affect the choice of tools. However, the project’s needs are a critical aspect of the question.
Defining Tasks for the Project
Depending on the scale, specifics, tech stack, target audience, and business goals of the product, QA needs may vary. Consequently, the toolkit covering these needs will also change. You can explore thematic overviews of frameworks for different platforms to have the ability to control contractors and their technical stack.
If you don’t want to delve into these nuances, simply trust your partners. Teams like ZappleTech will autonomously choose the most effective toolkit.
Choosing Relevant Tools
Depending on the project’s needs, your QA team will require different tools. For example:
- Selenium for regression, integration, end-to-end testing.
- JMeter for performance testing.
- Postman for API testing.
In practice, the frameworks involved in the project could be dozens. The choice should still be delegated to the service provider, who knows better what and how they will test and automate.
Setting up the Test Environment and Synchronization with CI/CD Tools
The QA team, on its own, can only identify problems. It must actively collaborate with developers, designers, and PMs to delegate found bugs to specialists who can fix them.
To achieve maximum coordination of processes, CI/CD tools like Jenkins, GitLab, etc., as well as communication tools like Slack, are applied. The critical goal is continuous information exchange between departments and a rapid response to potential project issues.
But initially, it’s worth forming a QA team that will work on your digital product.
Criteria for Forming a Test Automation as a Service Team
Let’s immediately note that there are two standard models under which we can recommend assembling a team. The first, typical for large companies, involves in-house recruitment through the HR department, onboarding, and adaptation of specialists. The second model is outsourcing, allowing you to pay dedicated professionals, teams, or companies for the services performed and thereby reduce QA project costs several times.The criteria for selecting specialists working on the digital product are common for both models.
The team should be well-versed in the industry you are working in, the types of projects currently being developed, the needs of the target market, and the business’s target audience. Specialists should also be able to work:
- In a team.
- With external teams.
- With PMs, BAs, and occasionally directly with stakeholders.
The greater and broader the experience of your contractors, the faster they will integrate into the project, conduct automated testing more effectively, and deliver higher-quality results.
The combination of Hard and Soft Skills is one of the key criteria for selecting personnel for a QA project. It is important for experts to create automation algorithms with different tools, test the product manually, and have an additional set of non-technical skills. For example:
- Understanding the rules of creating clean test cases, reports, and user stories.
- Ability to communicate within the team and with external teams.
- Adequate response to stress, risks, and challenges.
ZappleTech’s research describes a full list of potentially important skills for their experts. Review the material to better understand what kind of experts your project needs.
Motivation is often confused precisely with the funding of service providers. The general thesis establishes a direct correlation between employees’ wages and their interest in the results.
In reality, the motivation of the team is a symbiosis of various factors, such as:
- Maintaining a focus on the project’s value.
- Emphasizing the importance of QA for the product’s viability.
- Financial and moral stimulation of specialists.
An additional powerful factor in motivating experts is the involvement of the project manager (PO) in the routine QA processes. Just periodically inquire about the state of affairs in the digital product and acknowledge specialists who effectively deal with bugs.
The basic structure of the team depends on the project’s scale, and the required number of contractors to meet development QA needs. The typical composition includes:
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- QA Test Analyst
- QC Team Leader
- Quality Assurance Manage
- Test Architect
Depending on the project’s needs, the number of specialists may change, and new positions and roles may be added to the team. Although, according to some hiring models, such rotations pose several additional complications.
Advantages and Disadvantages of In-House Test Automation as a Service
If you want to build your own in-house QA team, you’ll achieve a decent balance between the cost and quality of services. However, consider whether your budget is ready for additional expenses.
If so, instead, you’ll get a motivated and highly qualified team of experts who will handle each of your projects from the concept stage to its market release.
The strengths of in-house QA include the following factors:
- Maximum development in a specific industry.
- Loyalty to your business.
- Minimal staff turnover.
Consequently, your company gains reliable support that can be used both as constant support and periodically engaging the team to perform specific tasks.
Working in one segment hones the skills of specialists to the maximum, compensating for the lack of experience in other areas. In-house specialists will test your digital product better than any outsourced team, finding bugs and even helping fix them.
Skills in working with limited projects focus experts’ attention on details unnoticed by broad-profile specialists.
Interest in Results
The salary and career potential of in-house QA experts depend on the success of the digital product in the market—its quality. Therefore, they are even more interested than the CEO in ensuring the project reaches the release stage with minimal issues, quickly enters the market, and immediately receives a positive ROI.
Such motivation is the trigger that drives experts to give 100% for the achievement of a common goal.
Staff turnover in a medium or large company, especially in IT departments, including QA, is quite low. Career prospects might attract in-house performers, but this happens rather rarely. Therefore, working with a corporate team, you can be sure that most of its members will stay with you throughout the entire development and testing cycle of the project.
However, working with in-house professionals has a few drawbacks that may somewhat overshadow the positive impressions.
Critical drawbacks and weaknesses can be attributed to the limitation of industry knowledge, additional expenses, and perhaps discipline, although the latter is a situational nuance.
In general, the described issues can be compensated for with effective management. However, it’s still worth familiarizing yourself with the key disadvantages of an in-house QA team.
Industry familiarity acts as a bottleneck, reducing the value of an in-house QA team. The problem is not obvious until you begin to scale your business into external markets and exclusively engage in an established niche. If there is a need to develop and test a digital solution for another segment, in-house professionals may take somewhat longer to adapt to the new job profile.
Office space, logistics, equipment purchase, technology, tools, cloud resources, staff training, legal aspects, and taxes constitute only a minor part of the expenses your company will face if you want to create and maintain an in-house QA team. Even in the short term, this poses a budget challenge. In the long run, you might consider abandoning the in-house model in favor of periodic collaboration with external service providers.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Outsourcing Test Automation as a Service
Outsourcing is an economically advantageous collaboration model for both SMBs and large corporations. You can achieve maximum results within reasonable budget constraints and relatively short time frames.
Outsourcing is also the most directed and adaptable type of work, providing clients the flexibility to manage resource involvement in each project.Sergey AlmyashevCOO, ZappleTech Inc.
Outsourcing is advantageous for several reasons:
- In terms of savings, the cost of such services is significantly lower than maintaining an in-house team (such as QA).
- Companies can have access to experts of any profile and skill level.
- Additionally, the team size can vary freely, depending on the project’s current needs.
Therefore, we offer to review these advantages in more detail.
Adaptive Service Cost
There are various pricing models, such as project-based cost calculation, a scaled approach where the cost is per iteration, and materials and time. The latter dominates, allowing clients to choose the budget volume spent on QA. Payment for services occurs upon project completion or is divided into periodic payments.
Access to Various Talents
The outsourcing model allows companies to hire contractors of any profile and skill level within a week. In contrast, the in-house hiring period for experts lasts at least a month. Moreover, the experience of such specialists is multi-industry, enabling them to quickly adapt to the project and provide high-quality QA services.
At different project stages, you may need a varying number of experts. Unlike in-house teams, outsourcing offers a flexible recruiting model, allowing you to change the number of performers almost at any time. Increase, decrease, or hire a separate team. The process takes from a few hours to several days.
These are the advantages, but there are also several drawbacks that are worth examining in more detail.
Surprisingly, there are only two drawbacks, which are more related to management nuances than real issues that may arise for the service buyer. The first concerns the remote work model and the second concerns information confidentiality. Looking ahead, they are both relatively easy to address, so there is no need to worry about them.
Meetings through Microsoft Teams, CI/CD tools, and a range of additional software may not always meet the needs of managing remote teams. Risk management, establishing direct communication, and organizing a practice of continuous control over processes are necessary both from the service buyer’s and contractor’s sides.
Sensitive or critical project information can be used for opportunistic purposes by either party in the collaboration. However, this potential challenge is mitigated when collaborating with outsourcing organizations that value their clients and reputation in the target market.
Despite the drawbacks, the outsourcing model remains popular in the industry and offers clients favorable collaboration conditions.
Reasons Why Outsourcing Is More Advantageous than In-House Test Automation as a Service
Objectively, every startup owner or IT project manager has their own reasons for choosing a specific QA hiring model. However, it’s crucial to accurately understand the cost-effectiveness of budget allocation for each. According to ZappleTech experts, outsourcing is a significantly more beneficial investment in IT, especially in the early stages of company and project development. Several compelling arguments support this viewpoint.
Maximum Understanding of Goals
The experience of outsourcing providers allows them to instantly grasp project goals and quickly focus on them. This generally improves the quality of services, productivity, and effectiveness of external teams. Clients receive services that meet critical development needs through efficient testing.
Project owners only need to submit a request to the contractor to expand or reduce the team responsible for test automation. Resources are configured within a week, much faster than dealing with HR departments, recruiting, or downsizing staff.
No Additional Costs
Clients pay solely for the work performed based on the contractor’s estimate. Typically, this includes:
- Hourly rates of each expert.
- Time spent on testing each component.
- Complexity of verification elements.
Consequently, expenses for equipment, salaries, office rent, etc., disappear. Hiring external providers becomes a more cost-effective investment in IT than maintaining an in-house team.
Knowledge of various industries and project types helps outsourcing experts quickly integrate into projects and provide higher-quality QA services. Even for specialized industries, providers have experts covering QA needs for projects of any complexity and scale.
Skills in Working with External Teams
External contractors usually have a higher engagement dynamics in various project types. Therefore, they frequently practice QA processes, working on a wide range of tasks for many clients. This means they better understand project specifics and quickly adapt to working under any conditions.
However, the most crucial aspect is selecting the right QA provider for your project.
Criteria for Selecting a Test Automation as a Service Contractor
The chosen provider can either be a panacea for your software development project or its bottleneck. Depending on who you delegate QA to, the testing outcomes may be successful or unsuccessful, creating additional financial and reputational risks.
Here are several recommendations to help you choose a contractor wisely:
The provider must have expertise in your industry, project type, and the tech stack of your development. Therefore, carefully review the candidates’ portfolios, pay attention to similar cases, and directly inquire about the team’s experience in your field.
Knowledge of Technologies and Tools
Each type of QA verification and automation requires specific tools. Ensure that the candidate’s knowledge aligns with your project’s development needs. Information about the toolkit is usually available on the provider’s website.
Reviews from Previous Clients
Portals like Clutch, Techreviewer, and DesignRush showcase QA service providers’ portfolios and provide feedback from previous clients. You can review the company’s rating and, in some cases, communicate with clients to assess the effectiveness of the chosen QA experts.
Ability to Conduct Continuous Testing of Critical Elements
Merely checking components during development is insufficient, especially for large-scale projects with potential for future upgrades. In such cases, consider companies offering comprehensive support packages, including continuous testing, even after the digital product is released to the market.
Communication, although the last on the list, is a critical parameter. Before hiring experts, assess their ability to coordinate work with subcontractors, their reporting practices, and their willingness to compromise in stressful situations.
Pay attention to practical aspects of collaboration, specifically the legal aspects of hiring an external QA subcontractor.Mikhail BodnarchukCDO, ZappleTech Inc.
Legal Nuances of Test Automation as a Service
You need legal protection to prevent leaks of sensitive information or breaches of obligations by the subcontractor. This involves drafting general and specific contracts with the QA service provider, regardless of their reputation.
Clearly outline the scope of work, goals to be achieved, working methods, toolkit, and other essential details according to your discretion.
Signing NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)
It is imperative to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the testing team. This will safeguard you from reputational and financial risks, ensuring confidential relationships with project executors, stakeholders, investors, and others.
Defining Responsibilities and Project Objectives
Specify the outcomes you expect after each work stage and the project as a whole. This allows for more effective process control, monitoring progress, and addressing almost any challenges that may arise during the work.
Potential Issues with Test Automation as a Service and Ways to Address Them
Any collaboration carries risks, and outsourcing is no exception. Therefore, it’s essential to anticipate potential challenges and develop a response plan.
If your subcontractor delivers less work or lower results than planned, consider adjusting the testing strategy—change priorities, lower the benchmark if necessary, or modify the toolkit.
Automation doesn’t guarantee 100% testing coverage. If you detect bugs in later stages that migrated from earlier phases, address them promptly and analyze the situation to avoid similar issues in the future.
In case of a shift in project focus, involve Project Managers, Business Analysts, and Team Leads; review communication policies and swiftly readjust testing priorities to critical components.
Controlling processes within remote QA teams can be a challenge for service clients. Experienced providers offer effective management and integration methods with development, Project Management, etc.
Service Quality Control
To control the quality of services the subcontractor provides, set goals for each development stage, establish metrics for measuring performance and assign responsibility. Demand detailed reports from the provider and evaluate their performance.
Don’t worry; the cost of services is not dependent on these factors.
Cost of Test Automation as a Service
The cost of QA services depends on various factors:
- Project scale
- Number of involved experts
- Automation technologies used
- Deadline, i.e., the time allocated for task completion
- Hourly rates of experts
- Service provider’s region
- Market prices and industry conditions
Budgeting is based on the work done, considering potential unforeseen circumstances during QA. While approximate estimates for various companies are available, you won’t be able to precisely calculate your QA expenses.
Feel free to reach out to a team manager at ZappleTech. Provide a brief overview of your project to receive an estimate based on a similar set of services provided to another client.
Start testing your digital product as early as possible for better overall results.