Doing a full run of software testing in house is difficult. It takes a lot of man power, countless hours (on a tight deadline none-the-less) and covering the entire testing matrix in-house is incredibly cost prohibitive. In the face of these challenges it makes sense that many companies look for outside help. Outsourcing has been the option of choice for years now, but it’s far from perfect. Austin Engery dealt with some frustrating outsourcing issues and eventually chronicled their dumpy journey for Information Week. This story perfectly highlights some of the biggest shortcomings of outsourcing.
Dealing with workers who are physically apart from the rest of your employees can be difficult, but more often than not outsourcing complicates the matter even more. The outsource office can literally be time zones away, making getting in touch with someone complicated. Turnover at outsourcing companies can be high, so you may not even be dealing with the same staff for the duration of your project. Difficult or lack of communication can drag projects out and frustrate both parties. Here’s a few examples of Austin Energy’s communication issues:
“[Austin Energy CIO Alan Claypool emailed an IBM executive after] months of correspondence between himself and his staff and IBM project managers on multiple problems.”
“My concern is the lack of progress in identifying the root cause and, frankly, the pace and quality of response from IBM.”
“They have been responsive. I would characterize it as, in their words, ‘incremental response.’ We would like to see a faster response.”
Trouble with Accountability
In an outsourcing situation, you are not the only project on the company’s plate. Your project manager could be simultaneously juggling multiple projects which means A. Their attention is divided and B. More than one company is trying to get a hold of that project manager in the few common working hours – which further delays matters if something goes wrong. Austin Energy had trouble with the quality of work, but had few options for recourse.
“We continue to be gravely disappointed at the delays and seemingly ad hoc methods toward managing this project.”