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Business and Technology Insights

Don't Just Detect Defects Early

 
January 12, 2016

The advantages of early defect detection are known. Software teams worldwide are constantly looking for ways, means and promising practices, to detect bugs early in the lifecycle, and avoid expensive rework in production. Now imagine detecting not just defects, but also gaining valuable, real-world insights, from real users, even before production roll-out. That too with an army of testers across geographies and cultures, testing your product 24×7, with varied devices. All this without heavy investments or infrastructure overheads. Sounds too good to be true? A decade ago, this seemed impossible. In todays connected and wired world, it is not just a good-to-have assurance feature, but a must-have process reality. Crowd-sourced testing can be an efficient, effective and the economical answer to many challenges.

So what really is crowd-sourced testing? Simply put, it is the practice of delegating software testing tasks to a large community of testers, through an online platform. A shift from one size fits all traditional testing, crowd-testing is beneficial for consumer technology solution teams, grappling with large and varied user base, device diversity, geographical disparities, multiple networks and accelerated go to market strategies. Heres why crowd-testing can be a good idea for your business.

Adequate Test Coverage: A geographically disparate group of testers with different technical and cultural background, using different devices, embedded with different platforms and technologies, on different networks, with varying bandwidth and connection speeds, can provide the perfect verification platform for evaluating application quality, consistency and performance, against as many varied parameters as possible. The technique also facilitates feedback and inputs on real world usability issues. The spectrum of test coverage offered by crowd-sourced testing, is almost as close to the production scenario. This setting is virtually impossible to mimic in an in-house testing environment.

Optimized Cost: Based on a freelance and pay-per-bug pricing model, crowd-sourced testing frees up businesses from bearing fixed workforce and infrastructure overheads, thereby driving optimized cost of quality. Initiatives such as bug detection contests and gamification also help optimize cost, improve test coverage and drive assurance effectiveness. Having highlighted the cost aspect, its important to note that crowd-testing is not just about reducing labor overheads. Its about tapping global testing talent, from real users, across the world.

Flexibility and Scalability: A huge benefit of crowd-sourced testing is the flexibility of using services on demand. This approach facilitates scalability enabling businesses to ramp up and ramp down testing teams as per requirement. Geographically diverse testing teams can work across time-zones, facilitating continuous and uninterrupted testing, reducing cycle time, and accelerating market reach.

Feel end-user pulse before product roll-out!

While the rewards of crowd-sourced testing are undeniable, there are also a few operational considerations to be kept in mind while selecting this approach. First, the testing objectives and target audience must be clearly defined. A digitized induction module to onboard the crowd, and communicate testing objectives is a must. After all, you dont want sections of the crowd sailing in different boats, in different directions. The testing process must we well managed using test management, monitoring and reporting tools. With effective automation, crowd test cases and observations can be migrated to real scenarios. Traditional testing and business teams can then assess the business impact of these scenarios.

A transformational shift from the traditional test approach, crowd-sourced testing complements traditional testing from the next-gen business transformation perspective. While crowd-sourced testing does pose some challenges, if harnessed well, the wide spectrum of crowd knowledge can help businesses feel the end user’s pulse even before the actual product is rolled out to production. This early detection ensures a flawless and efficient product, with the ability to marvel a widely disparate user base, turning them into not just crowd testers, but brand evangelists and loyalists.

Given this reality, can your business really ignore the crowd? No, it cant. Simply because in this age of customer empowerment, you no longer own your brand. The crowd does.

Rekha Natarajan, a Delivery head for Telecom at TCS Assurance Services, has around 14 years of IT experience in Maintenance and QA delivery for Telecom service providers across different geographies. Her primary focus has been on QA and has delivered various types of testing projects successfully. She is passionate about creating an innovative work culture to promote added value to the customer.