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Outsourced testing is testing performed by people who are not co-located with the project team and are not fellow employees. Testing service providers who provide outsourced testing services range from small local companies to worldwide organizations.

Resources for “Outsourcing”


More and more IT professionals work on projects where some or all of the development is done by third-parties, often overseas. While cost savings make such arrangements attractive to executives, individual contributors and managers on such projects face some significant challenges. What does outsource mean for IT professionals? In this talk, Rex Black offers insights from his extensive involvement in outsource projects ­both successful and not-so-successful. Rex will illustrate his points with case studies, and share humorous and scary anecdotes along the way.

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In this software testing article, Rex Black analyzes the use of outsourcing in testing, based on some twenty years of experience with outsourcing of testing in one form or another. First, Mr. Black enumerates the key differences between in-house and outsourced test teams. Next, driven by these key differences, he analyzes which tasks fit better with outsourced testing service providers, followed by a similar analysis for in-house test teams. Then, Mr Black lists some of the technical, managerial, and political challenges that confront a company trying to make effective use of outsourced testing. Finally, he addresses some of the processes needed to use testing service providers effectively and with the least amount of trouble. Read this article to significantly improve your use of outsourced testing.

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This software testing article is excerpted from Chapter 10 of Rex Black's upcoming book Managing the Testing Process, 3e.  Over the last twenty years, outsource development of one or more key components in the system has come to dominate software and hardware systems engineering. The trend started in hardware in the 1990s. RBCS clients like Dell, Hitachi, Hewlett Packard, and other computer systems vendors took advantage of cheap yet educated labor overseas to compete effectively in an increasingly commoditized market. By the end of 2002, three years into a spectacular IT downturn that saw computer science enrollments in the United States fall to less than half of their 1999 levels, price had become the primary determinant in most IT project decisions.  Mass outsourcing of software projects took hold, and it continues unabated to this day... Read this article to get a picture of the effects of outsourcing software testing.

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More and more projects involve more integration of custom developed or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, rather than in-house development or enhancement of software.  In effect, these two approaches constitute direct or indirect outsourcing of some or all of the development work for a system, respectively. 

While some project managers see such outsourcing of development as reducing the overall risk, each integrated component can bring with it significantly increased risks to system quality.   In this article, I’ll explain the factors that lead to these risks, and then strategies you can use to manage them. 

I’ll illustrate the factors and the strategies with a hypothetical project.  In this project, assume you are the project manager for a bank that is creating a Web application that allows homeowners to apply for a home equity loan on the Internet.  You have two component vendors.  You buy a COTS database management system from one vendor.  You will hire an outsourced custom development organization to develop the Web pages, the business logic on the servers, and the database schemas and commands to manage the data.  Let’s see how you can recognize the factors that create quality risks, and the strategies you can use to manage those risks.

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Ten Lessons in Test Outsourcing

Recorded February 9, 2011

Testing on the Outsourced Project

Recorded May 27, 2009

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