No code is flawless right away, but your product must be before release. It has to look pretty, be bug-free, work as intended, and be ready to impress your audience. To achieve that, you need an efficient quality assurance process. QA as a service (QAaaS) is a new way to get the exact QA services you need, just when you need them.
How does QAaaS work, and what does it have to offer to your business? How do you best integrate it with your current processes, and what challenges should you expect?
In under ten minutes, we'll answer all of these questions, so you can decide whether QAaaS is the right tool for your case.
What is Quality Assurance as a Service?
QA as a service is an approach to providing selected QA services as a custom package to match specific testing needs, scales, and deadlines. When choosing QAaaS, a business receives managed access to their quality partner's expertise and talent pool to address specific QA gaps. This saves time and costs compared to hiring and onboarding a QA team.
The QAaaS model is the market's response to the ever-increasing speed of software delivery and the shift in methodologies.
The figures in this graph from the 2022 State of Testing Report speak for themselves:
The industry is transitioning from Waterfall practices to integrated DevOps and iterative Agile workflows, which leads to higher productivity. In the same survey, 66% of respondents noted that developers now release features more often, and functionality is more complex. This means more work for testers.
Naturally, companies are looking for smarter ways to manage software quality. Let’s see how using QAaaS can help with that.
How QAaaS works: an example
Did you know that the whole "as a service" concept came from cloud computing? It refers to a subscription-based method of distributing software that doesn't require installation and offers low licensing costs.
That's very similar to how QA as a service works. When your QA requirements exceed your in-house expertise or capacity, you don't have to spend weeks and a fortune to hire talent. Instead, you partner with a QAaaS provider and show them the problem, so they can offer a comprehensive solution to your pains.
Company A is building a mobile app that's poised to revolutionize the world of online dating. It's two weeks before release, and the new "swipe left but also send a hug emoji so the other person doesn't hate you" feature is causing trouble. Company A's small QA team is short-handed and can't complete the regression testing on time.
Time is pressing, and the task at hand doesn't warrant hiring a large in-house QA team.
Company A turns to software company B, which offers a QA as a service option.
Company B has access to a huge pool of in-house and freelance testers. Its managers select people who fit the tech skill requirements and assign them to the task. They run a full suite of regression tests and provide feedback on the issues found. Company B takes care of managing their workforce and logging progress in Company A’s tracking software.
As a result, Company A releases their product on time and without issues. They also save a large percentage of the budget they would have spent on keeping a full QA team on payroll.
“This is great, but it sounds a lot like outsourcing QA services. Are you selling me the same thing, only repackaged and renamed?”
This is different; let us explain.
QA as a Service vs. Outsourcing QA Services: similar but not identical
Here’s the difference in a nutshell:
- When outsourcing QA services to a third party, you hire a fixed team of QA engineers and testers. Most often, it’s a long-term commitment. You’re paying for the time and expertise of those particular people, so they can cover your QA needs through the development cycle.
- When you choose QA as a service, you’re buying a solution that's tailored to your needs, but also flexible. What you get is access to specific expertise or skills across your partner’s entire talent pool. You can plug these services into your process when needed and disconnect them when the problem is solved. You also don’t have to worry about onboarding or managing your partner’s employees.
Now that we know what QA as a service is and how it works, let's find out how you can make the best of it.
When to Use QA as a Service and What Benefits It Brings
We can think of at least a dozen scenarios where choosing quality assurance as a service can save the day. To keep it short, we'll only list the ones the Techstack team has had actual experience with.
Regression testing aims to ensure that new features, changes, or updates don't negatively impact product quality. When you need results quickly and are behind schedule even with all hands on deck, opting for QAaaS will set you on the right course.
Your QA partner can help you review test documentation, adapt test cases, and run regression tests.
The perks of using QAaaS: you can quickly scale up your QA team and speed up your regression testing for time-critical tasks.
Auditing current QA processes
Sometimes, your QA team's performance isn't up to the mark. Constant slowdowns, budget overruns, and bugs creeping into production may be signs of poorly established processes. The team may need guidance on how to properly analyze requirements, create test designs, and so on.
A handpicked QA team will assess your QA processes and prepare an evaluation report, indicating areas that need improvement.
The perks of using QAaaS: you receive unbiased independent feedback from seasoned QA pros at any stage of development.
Setting up QA processes from the ground up
Let’s say you’re beginning to work on your product and haven't yet built your quality assurance practices. This is a perfect time to try QAaaS. Why? Because if you fail to set up well-structured QA processes from the start, problems will snowball as your software becomes more complex.
Your QAaaS provider must first gather information about your goals, requirements, and development process. Once they see the whole picture, they can start creating a holistic QA strategy. In the end, you should have a working QA process aligned with your needs, a team that has completed onboarding, and all supporting documentation.
The perks of using QAaaS: inviting highly experienced quality experts to set up your processes is a great investment into the future of your product.
Exploratory and usability testing
These two types of testing require a lot of experience, creativity, and human resources. Oftentimes, your current team may be too familiar with the product to see its flaws. In this case, getting your product looked at by an outside team is your best bet.
Your quality partner will mobilize their tester army to help identify problems that your team might have overlooked. You'll get a fresh perspective on your product, a full report, and recommendations for future testing.
The perks of using QAaaS: you get a fresh look at your quality situation and access to a diverse talent pool to do your exploratory and usability testing while keeping costs at bay.
Introducing test automation and adopting CI/CD testing practices
As your product grows and receives new features, you may see an exponential increase in the number of bugs. The inability to address this is among the primary reasons why startups may fail. Switching to CI/CD (continuous integration and delivery) in your QA pipeline can help you remedy the situation. Adding test automation will give you a further efficiency boost.
To do all that properly and without disrupting your current process, you need your QAaaS partner's expertise. They should help you configure CI/CD pipelines and automate manual tests for your current and post-release activities. The process may be slow at first, but your efforts will pay off in the long run.
The perks of using QAaaS: take your QA efficiency to the next level with automation and CI/CD practices without disrupting the existing process.
To sum up, working with a QA as a service partner unlocks on-demand access to:
- specialized skills and experience to boost your efficiency that you’d otherwise have to spend years to obtain
- a large and diverse pool of testing experts to handle the most challenging and time-sensitive tasks
Now that the benefits of the approach are clear, we'll look at the issues you may face when implementing QAaaS.
QA as a Service: Understanding the Challenges
QAaaS is an extremely capable tool when it comes to removing bottlenecks, fixing flaws, and scaling up your QA activities. However, there are a number of factors that can impede implementation, and you may not get the desired effect.
Here are some of them:
- Resistance from in-house QA management — you'll need to bring your QA PMs and leads on board, so they actively participate in the process.
- Poor communication between QA and developers — your development team has to fully support your quality-related efforts, and they must work in unison with outside QA experts to really affect change.
- Adopting proper QA practices too late in the development process — it's true that QAaaS is designed to address the issue, but results will be more predictable at earlier stages.
- Absent or poorly written requirements — the external QA team has to start somewhere, and getting to know your product is the first step. The lower the quality of documentation, the more time it will take.
You may run into other specific issues, but remember: you have your quality partner to help you. Leverage their experience and keep moving towards your goals.
Following the recommendations in the next section will get you there even faster.
Best Practices for Implementing Quality Assurance as a Service
So you've decided to integrate QAaaS into your development process. If we were in your shoes, that's what we would do to maximize the effect.
Assess current QA needs
It may sound obvious, but you'll have to do your homework and identify the weak spots in your quality assurance pipeline. The good news: you can already employ the help of a QAaaS tech partner at this stage and get a professional assessment.
What's missing in your process? Does your team lack certain skills or expertise? Are they vastly outnumbered by the tasks they need to perform? Find those issues and get ready to fix them.
Set clear objectives and realistic deadlines
Work with your QAaaS provider to correctly formulate your requests. Share your plans and set expectations. What results do you want/need to achieve, and what's the time frame? Give your partner as much information as possible, so they can do their job and meet your needs.
Test automation is making great strides in the QA world. Over 45% of the participants of this survey say that automation workflows have replaced as much as 50% of manual tests.
Use your partner's expertise to update your processes and introduce automation practices to stay relevant in the current QA landscape.
You'd think that once you implement QAaaS and improve your processes, you can never go back to the old ways. The truth is, it takes some effort to stay on the right course. To keep your software bug-free, you'll have to remain vigilant and monitor the work of your QA team.
Make sure your team makes the best use of the tools they now have—test management and bug trackers, document management systems, etc. Keep your eye on how dev and test teams communicate and whether they follow the practices your tech partner has helped set up.
Integrate QA as a Service to Improve Software Quality and Reliability
In 2022, the cost of poor software quality in the U.S. reached a staggering $2.41 trillion, a sharp increase from $1.31 in 2020. Most of the damage was caused by security flaws exploited by cybercriminals, failures in third-party components, and mounting technical debt.
While technical debt shouldn't be an issue when building a product from scratch, problems in third-party software are quite real. And then there are functional, performance, and other bugs that will inevitably crop up in your code.
These issues are completely preventable when you have a robust and efficient QA process and can handle the load. QA as a service is a great option when you need help with that. It allows you to inject QA expertise and resources into your process with the utmost precision. What’s more, you can integrate it at any stage of development and reap long-term benefits without straining your budget.
The only catch: the quality of the service is only as good as the partner that provides it.
At Techstack, we always bring our A-game when it comes to software quality. As a software development company that's helped hundreds of partners build successful products, we can highly recommend using QA as a Service. The pros far outweigh the cons, and the hiccups you may get during implementation are easy to fix.
Don't let quality assurance issues hold you back. Get in touch so we can start making your product better.