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A Better Way to Track Managed Service Providers Hours
Over the past several years, many trends have arisen in the ways companies are managing their software, but few are more popular than the hiring managed service providers to maintain and enhance existing enterprise applications (see here). These contractors typically work closely with subject matter experts (SME) on a particular application or have their hands in multiple applications across various business divisions. There are many well-known benefits to utilizing managed service providers, (see here) but it can be extremely difficult to accurately estimate and track the billable hours. I talk to a lot of software testing leaders that struggle with this issue.
Here’s a very common conversation they would have with their service provider.
Managed service provider: “With the new functionality added, this will take anywhere from 8-10 hours to fully test.”
Business SME: “Can you elaborate on why testing this new feature will require this much additional effort?”
Managed service provider: “Certainly, we have the following ‘a’, ’b’, and ’c’ test cases to run and then will need to test this across different environments. We can provide the test results to you once they’ve been completed and will get your sign off prior to moving the latest release to production. This should take about two weeks to complete.”
Business SME: “Ok, great. Let’s review the results prior to making the move, but those hours will work.”
Typically, there is little push-back from the client regarding the additional hours being charged to test enhancements. If the changes are completed on-time and are pushed to production without any bugs, everyone is satisfied.
Why is there so little attention focused on these test estimates and the incremental charges to the business? It is simple: testing efforts are extremely difficult to accurately estimate due to the varying complexities of software features. It’s really just an educated guess.
Fortunately, qTest qTest eXplorer tool by QASymphony takes a substantial leap forward in simplifying this task. The use of this tool can help gather actionable, detailed and reliable metrics. qTest eXplorer is a tool tailored towards manual, exploratory, and ad hoc testing. It captures the testers’ actions as they proceed through a testing session and allows them to make annotations on-the-fly as well as submit defects directly into ALMs like JIRA, Rally, and VersionOne. In this sense, Explorer helps provide the following:
Real time, accurate data that provides visibility to how much time is spent on a particular testing session
Visibility into who conducted a testing session and what was tested via detailed documentation that includes all annotations, notes, and bugs logged
This gives companies the visibility they need to ensure that they are being billed fairly for the work that is being done by the service provider. This is not to imply that the service companies intentionally over bill their clients. In fact, service providers can use qTest eXplorer to effectively demonstrate the hours required for a specific project to justify their estimates.
Ultimately, qTest eXplorer can help companies and their service providers develop more accurate estimates and better track the hours for work being done. That can help drive more efficiency and potential cost savings for the client.
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