Third-party testing is something that can cause some heated debates on whether to use them or not. The effect they have on an organization and quality of the output. Here I will put in my two cents and will carry the conversation more if anyone wants.
For me, I have no issue with it. Now with that said there are some conditions I have, that I will go through (if not this will be a concise post), and I will also go through the arguments that I have heard on the subject (with my take, of course)
Here are my conditions though I have:
They are used for staff augmentation and not just cheaper labour.
Want the right way to get a bad reputation is to replace full-time staff (letting them go) to be replaced by a third-party resource. Here is an excellent example of some bad press with that particular model.
Staff augmentation is to cover off the additional workload so that teams can produce more when needed. When using a Third-party vendor, they can bring on resources with the skill sets required at a faster pace than hiring processes in North America. Usually, within a week or two, you can have support in the system, starting to get some work done. Compared to the usual hiring process, it could take a month.
They are a resource to scale. Most of the third-party vendors that I have worked with can get 1 to 10 people in a short period. That is their business model, and it is done well on most days. You may get the odd hiccup or delay, yet based on needs, it is still quicker.
Most Third Party resource vendors also allow for quick turnaround. What I mean is that if a resource is not working out as planned or they decide to leave that organization, they can bring someone in reasonably quick.
There are other advantages, as well as disadvantages to using a third-party model. For that, I will go into a little more detail during the arguments that I hear regarding the model’s use.
Argument #1 – You are going to replace our jobs to them.
When I first heard this argument, I would scoff at the idea. That was until stories, like the one above, happened a few years ago. I always thought it was about augmenting the staff to meet the needs of the workload. I still believe that and even lead by it. There is still a part of me that is cautious and willing to defend when needed.
When using a third party, it is going to bring in more work. That work will be more fulfilling as simple, and menial tasks can be handed off to the additional resources. It makes total sense, and it is generally how the model works. I will get into why with the second argument point.
Argument #2 – They don’t know the system.
Yep, you’re right. Here is the catch: so would any new employee who walks into the door onsite. There is going to be a learning curve, and the work they will be doing at first will not be complicated or intricate. An organization would not take a junior analyst who just came into work on day one and assign them a complex set of test cases then walk away. That is a recipe for disaster. Why would we expect the same for someone that is on the other side of the world that is starting to work with you? They are there to help and will need to have a sound training system in place to provide that.
Argument #3 – The time delay is unmanageable.
If that were the case, nobody in North America would follow this model. Yet there are a lot of very successful organizations that use this model very well.
There are so many communication and workflow tools out there that the time zone difference is more of an annoyance than anything. As well my experience has shown that they are willing to work around our schedules and ensure there is proper communication between the two locations.
There are other arguments out there and, to me, based out of the fear of the unknown. If a company is starting to use this model and nobody has been through it before, it can be scary. Once they open up and accept it for what it is, Staff augmentation, it can be beneficial to everyone. The opportunities of innovation can start to arise as the trivial work can go to the vendor while the teams onsite can focus on more “fun stuff.”
I think the one key thing that I need to stress, I have said it throughout this post, it is all about staff augmentation. That message must be from top management down, and to remain consistent. Any deviation from that and it will erode trust throughout, which in turn will erode productivity and finally quality.