A Guide to Selecting a Quality Assurance Partner

Too often, developers are so focused on getting a product out the door that they underestimate the role that quality plays in helping them achieve success.

Agile development organizations are faced with the challenge of balancing speed with quality. The ability to respond to technology trends and market expectations while quickly releasing new features is critical in today’s competitive landscape. However, speed means nothing if customers experience significant software failures and turn away from your product — which could cost you millions of dollars and erode your reputation.

This is why selecting the right QA testing partner is key. Too often, developers are so focused on getting a product out the door that they underestimate the role that quality plays in helping them achieve success.

Today’s leading enterprises understand the broader implications of choosing a provider that not only addresses immediate needs with a viable testing solution, but also provides tools and services that support the business’ strategic goals. Over the last two years, QASymphony has participated in hundreds of customer evaluations, so we have insight into how developers evaluate software testing tools and, more importantly, what they need from a quality partner. As it turns out, it goes far beyond providing a product.

The following guide is designed to help developers, testers and QA leaders sift through the multitude of short-term quality vendors until they find the one that is equipped—and willing—to be a long-term quality partner.

Key Requirements

When choosing a testing platform, there are a few basic requirements a good quality partner should meet without question.

  • Best of Breed: Buying trends for technology that supports software development and testing has shifted away from vendor stack toward best of breed technology adoption –meaning developers and testers have much more freedom to choose the tools that are best suited to their needs, regardless of who makes them. That’s especially true with software testing technologies, as many of the largest vendors have neglected testing and quality when prioritizing updates to their tech stacks. Today’s competitive market offers significantly more flexibility when building your tech stack. The right quality partner should have testing as its core competency.
  • Comprehensive Ecosystem: A good quality partner should actively work with other leading providers and support integrations across the software development toolchain. This is critical to efficiency in a fast-paced development environment. The ability to share data across applications can streamline workflows, aid collaboration and save critical time by allowing you to work across multiple systems simultaneously. The right provider should have a broad ecosystem that includes existing integrations with your preferred tools, as well as the ability to add custom integrations without a lot of manual effort. QASymphony’s platform, for example, offers real-time integrations with the most popular project management tools like JIRA, Rally, and VersionOne, as well as APIs and SDKs for integrating with additional tools. At the end of the day, the best quality platforms should integrate with whatever tools your developers and testers use.
  • Bimodal Support: Most large, complex organizations have teams that use different development and testing methodologies and tools across many applications and environments. It is not uncommon for an enterprise to have a mixture of waterfall and agile teams working under the same roof. Other times, one team may be using test-driven development (TDD) while another uses behavior-driven development (BDD). Large enterprises need enterprise-grade tools. Your quality partner should be able to provide bi-modal support to meet the varying requirements of every team within your organization.

Long-Term Considerations

Assuming a provider meets all baseline, short-term requirements, the next step is making sure it can support your company’s long-term, strategic goals. Look for a provider that has:

  • Strategic Vision: To build a strategic vendor relationship, you need a platform with some staying power. Make sure your quality partner has a strategic vision for their business and their product that lines up with your company goals and, more importantly, that their release plans support the vision they have communicated. Put simply: A technology provider without a long-term plan is not a company to trust with the future of your product.
  • Commitment to Innovation: It’s imperative to find a testing platform that can scale with your business. This means your quality partner should have a commitment to innovation the extends far beyond their current state product. Is this provider known for being ahead of the curve? Do they have a pulse on industry trends, and are they equipped to meet future market demands, as well as to bridge the gap during your organization’s evolution? And perhaps most importantly, are they intentional about gathering customer feedback to foster improvement opportunities? At QASymphony, we seek improvement opportunities through regular customer surveys and also host an annual conference to put users in touch with their peers, as well as some of the top minds in the industry.
  • Solid Technology Roadmap: When it comes to technology, the proof is in the pudding. One way to confirm that a quality partner can fulfill their promises is to take a look at their product roadmap. When was the last release and what was included? How much time has passed between releases, and how much are they investing in R&D? Were there any major failures in recent months? A look into the past can indicate what a provider is capable of delivering 6, 12, or 18 months down the line.

Security, Compliance, and Other Support Services

The right quality partner should have both the desire and the resources to help you be successful. The right vendor should approach your relationship as a partnership, rather than a transaction, and be able to support your business strategy. Here are a few of the services and options that indicate a partnership approach.

  • Migration Strategy: Look for a quality partner has the resources to preserve your artifacts. Be sure to find out what a testing provider can import, how long it will take and what it will cost. It might also be helpful to speak with other clients that have received similar services from the provider. At QASymphony, we know that moving data from a legacy test case management system to a modern system can be daunting. As part of our migration service, we take a customized and consultative approach to determine what assets to and how to best execute the migration, so the process goes as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
  • Cloud and On Premises Deployment Capabilities: Any enterprise-grade provider should offer both on-premises and cloud deployments. While cloud deployments are becoming increasingly popular, many enterprises still opt to maintain their own infrastructure and keep deployments on premises for the foreseeable future. A reliable quality partner should offer flexible deployment methods, giving you the option to choose what is best for your organization — including an initial on-premises installation which might eventually migrate to the cloud.
  • Ongoing Support: Buying and implementing testing software should only mark the beginning of the relationship with your quality partner. Look for additional services such as in-person and virtual support, rapid support response, a variety of training resources, and feedback sessions to help plan future product releases. These types of value-added resources are important for developers that want to get the maximum value out of their provider partnerships.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, QA teams can’t afford to make quality an afterthought. Taking the time to find a quality partner that offers a premium solution as well as value-added services that address your company’s short-term needs and long-term goals can take your product—and your business—to the next level.

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