Outsourcing your software engineering has numerous advantages – from reducing your product’s time to market to expanding your available development resources to even conserving your capital. However, with large teams and resources spread across the globe, it presents unique challenges in managing the outsourced team and its quality of work.
From juggling language barriers and time zones to project visibility, organizations of all sizes struggle to ensure that they’re effectively managing the projects at hand while receiving the best end products from their engineering teams. In an age of instant feedback and shortened testing cycles, high-quality software deliverables are must-haves, and building in proven quality assurance (QA) steps should be part of the process.
The good news is, there are a number of best practices and tools that can offer an assist. So, whether you’re on the hunt for an new outsourced software developer or simply looking to optimize and better manage your current outsourced teams, we’ve put together five tips for increasing your QA across the board.
Define Requirements at the Onset.
As with any project, defining goals and setting metrics at the onset is key. We realize that this might seem like a basic step, but even the most seasoned outsourcing pros can overlook this at the beginning of a new project, setting themselves – and their outsourcing partners – up for frustration.
While it doesn’t require a software tool, there are a few available to help lay the foundation. The Unified Modeling Language (UML) contains various techniques that you can use to define your project requirements. UML diagrams and prose are often included in marketing requirement documents (MRDs) and software specifications, too.
Effectively Track Defects.
Testing your software at multiple stages in the development process is vital to your engineering project’s success. This simple initiative helps you identify – and course correct – any issues that might arise, as well as track and integrate any user enhancement requests.
There are a number of defect tracking programs on the market that can help you effectively track, prioritize and even assign software issues to your engineering team. Once identified, you want to be sure each bug receives a score in the system related to its importance – this helps ensure that your software engineering team doesn’t spend time on minor defects while major issues that impact the software’s performance go untouched.
Collaborate and Share Knowledge.
Collaboration tools have become integral to dispersed teams, and it seems that offshore software engineering is the ideal business case for the technology. With collaboration tools, both you and your development partners can better share knowledge, break down information silos and ensure more effective knowledge management across time zones, locations and teams.
Through solutions such as messaging apps, document management platforms, wikis, project management apps and video conferencing, teams can be kept up-to-date on current projects and even – yes – collaborate on projects. Even better, some solutions have an all-in-one approach that combines several collaboration features on a single platform to ensure that work is truly collaborative and any IP is retained for current and future team members.
Implement a Project Management Tool.
Few things are more frustrating from both a customer and development standpoint than a delay. Lack of visibility and insight can be the surest way for a project to fall behind. For example, you could have too many tasks and too few resources to tackle each of them. Or there are too many interdependencies between tasks, and not completing one on time can cause a domino effect that has far-reaching repercussions throughout the project.
Implementing a project management can help keep software development from going off the rails. Not only can you assign projects and tasks to individuals, you can create milestones and see a high-level overview of the entire project. Throughout the course of the engagement with your software engineering team, you can track the progress in terms of percentage completed and the financial value of tasks. Project management software also identifies and monitors the critical path of any milestones on the project that need to be completed.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Meetings!
In this day of email and instant messages, we often get caught up in convenience and forget about the value of dialing someone up – either by phone or video chat – for a real conversation. Sure, a written record is helpful for many facets of software engineering, but there isn’t a replacement for a true dialog when it comes to others.
A meeting is great for talking through a particularly challenging bug. And regular status meetings are a great way to provide updates on your project’s status and identify priorities for the next week, as well as work through a strategy for an emerging issue before it becomes a larger challenge. Don’t forget to factor in a face-to-face meeting every now and then, too – you can’t place a value on the intangibles that building an interpersonal relationship can bring to the entire team.
Establishing and maintaining effective QA processes across your software engineering projects should be a priority for any company engaged in outsourcing. By defining requirements, tracking defects, collaborating, using project management tools and even meeting regularly, you can ensure that your projects are completed on time and with fewer issues.
Accelerance’s software engineering experts go beyond standard QA processes to ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget. To add Accelerance as a software development partner, contact us today!