Traditionally, the outsourcing approach was utilized as an effective technique to cuts costs. However, in recent years the outsourcing model has evolved to play a key role in strategic management.
When a business adopts this approach, they might be doing it for a number of reasons that beyond cutting costs. For example, they might be engaging in this approach to fill in the gaps when IT talent is scarce or even to redirect energy and enhance efficiency.
A great example of outsourcing for strategic management is quality assurance (QA) and testing. It’s an important function that helps companies reduce business risk, improve the quality of their production applications, and helps improve upon current testing processes.
But whether you’re going to engage an outsourcing partner onshore, nearshore, or offshore, you need to first take the following into serious consideration (before making a commitment).
1. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
You need to have a clear and in-depth understanding of the level of service your potential outsourcing part is willing to provide. The types of SLAs that you should take into consideration are as follows:
- Client satisfaction
- On-time delivery
- System downtime and availability
- Volume of work
To protect yourself, sometimes it can also be a good idea to ensure that your SLAs are tied to your contract on a risk or reward basis.
These days, independent QA and testing teams that stand alone are rapidly becoming the norm. This approach has gained a lot of traction as it enables thoroughness and objectivity.
However, your testing partner needs to understand the challenges that can pop up when working with various vendors spread across the planet. So it will be critical for them to develop best practices and interfaces to ensure success.
3. Engagement models
Selecting and establishing an engagement model is also important. It’s always best to get this covered early during the planning stages. This because you will have to think about various factors like timezones, language barriers, and international business strategy.
At this juncture, it’s important to decide if you’re going to implement total outsourcing model or an incremental outsourcing model. Taking an incremental outsourcing approach can help you mitigate risk by dividing responsibilities into small manageable projects.
On the other hand, a total outsourcing approach will involve outsourcing almost 80% of your projects and programs off-site.
Communication is key to the success of your outsourcing project, so it’s important to engage an outsourcing partner that maintains open channels and effective points of contact.
An effective communication model will incorporate the following factors:
- Issue resolution
5. Flexibility and scalability
To ensure an effective response to any potential fluctuations that may come up in scope or timescales, it’s critical to only entertain (QA and testing) outsourcing agreements that are highly flexible and scalable.
This means that your outsourcing partner should have adequate infrastructure and resources to support your evolving needs.
6. Intellectual property (IP) protection and security
A key consideration in any outsourcing initiative is IP protection. This means that any personally identifiable information IPII needs to be protected.
You should also conduct a review of your outsourcing partner’s security standards (that are in place). It’s important because you need to make sure that there isn’t any room for misuse or unauthorized access.
So when you commit to an outsourcing partner, you have to ensure that the following outsourcing standards have been addressed:
- IP protection
- Employee confidentiality contracts
- Nondisclosure agreements
Depending on the specific needs of your QA and testing project, there might be other factors to consider like maintaining a comprehensive change and configuration management system.
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