The coronavirus crisis is touching nearly every individual and organization across the globe in some way. For some, the impact is minimal. However, for others, COVID-19 has prevented them from providing their basic services — and we’re not just talking about restaurants and movie theaters.
Many technology outsourcing companies, which do much of their work in countries like India and Vietnam, have been left devastated by the coronavirus crisis. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi put the country into a total lockdown on March 24, which remains in place and is limiting Indian outsourcing companies’ ability to deliver results for their customers. Even once the current lockdown ends, it’s unlikely that outsourcing firms can immediately return to their previous in-office setups.
What does the lockdown mean for outsourcing firms?
The Indian outsourcing market is worth approximately $52 billion, according to the Indian government. This includes companies that work in application development areas, such as QA testing services. Companies that rely on outsourcing firms in India range from financial services providers to major technology companies, to name just two of many industries.
However, outsourcing firms were simply not prepared for a pandemic and the ensuing lockdown. Outsourcing companies lacked the infrastructure to work remotely and continue to manage performance of their teams and meet client requirements — and their customers are now feeling the pain in loss of business continuity.
“Especially in offshore locations, much of the workforce has not previously been set up for this work-from-home scenario, presenting new tactical and operational challenges,” David Rutchik, executive managing director at management consulting firm Pace Harmon, told CIO.com.
The notion of “work from home” is generally not supported by outsourcing companies, which do not provide workers with laptops to bring home. Even if workers have the technology to work from home — including internet connections and secure systems access — many outsourcing firms require client permission for them to do so.
Some companies are now shipping laptops to their workers’ home, but this is taking time. Other companies don’t have laptops available to distribute to workers’ homes. Even if the company can get devices into their workers’ hands, the company needs to expand its virtual private network (VPN) exponentially, which isn’t helped by the fact that many workers live in crowded housing with poor-quality broadband.
“The outsourcing industry doesn’t lend itself to working from home,” consultant Vivek Sood, author of “Outsourcing 3.0,” told AFP. “We are talking about companies which used to ask employees to leave even their pens and pencils outside the office because of security concerns.”
For the companies that relied on outsourcing firms for their testing services, they are now left in the lurch. Digital quality is now more important than ever given our global reliance on digital experiences — and the companies providing those digital experiences are unable to get the testing they need from offshoring firms.
A remote testing infrastructure ensures business continuity
There’s a critical distinction between ‘offshoring’ and ‘crowdtesting.’ Offshoring is simply moving your testing from one office to another, likely in India, Vietnam or another outsourcing hub. Due to cultural and technological factors, that new office may actually be less capable of ensuring business continuity during a crisis. In addition, offshoring your testing services does not equate to an increase in skill sets or the ability to do different types of testing.
On the other hand, ‘crowdtesting’ is defined as remote, distributed testing where testers are curated to form a testing team. This model requires having an infrastructure in place where a company manages a global community of testers who do all their work remotely. This embedded infrastructure delivers quality testing results for development teams quickly — without missing a beat on testing coverage.
Perhaps most importantly during times like these, a strong crowdtesting infrastructure ensures business continuity and business enablement — even during a pandemic.
Here at Applause, we’ve been providing crowdtesting and remote testing services for over a decade. Our infrastructure enables us to continue to serve our clients despite the challenges we all face today. We can continue to scale up our testing services for our clients as their other testing options — such as in-house testing or offshoring — become less viable during this crisis.
We haven’t been slowed down or unable to deliver the digital testing our customers need — in fact, we have seen a spike of testing activity, as our clients turn to us to enable them to release on schedule in this distributed work environment.
Our remote testing services rely on a globally distributed workforce that was already working from home before the coronavirus crisis hit. Our community of vetted QA testers use their own devices, so we didn’t need to worry about sending laptops, phones or any other hardware to our testers. Our testers didn’t need to adjust to work from home because, well, they already were working from home.
“Our model is built around this notion of community-based testing,” Chris Munroe, Applause’s VP of Testing Services and Community, said in a recent webinar about remote testing. “The work we do [for customers] is remote … and can be done in the comfort of your own home, and that has helped us utilize the ultimate flexibility and scalability that the crowd provides. Because of this, we are well-prepared to help companies in this time.”
We don’t expect this surge in interest in remote, distributed testing to end once this crisis passes. Teams will continue to embrace a more virtual workload, and models that are set up for long-term success will be viewed as a solution for business continuity and business enablement.
As Gartner noted in its most recent Magic Quadrant report on application testing services, Applause’s crowdtesting model of remote QA testers enables businesses to achieve speed and flexibility.
That speed and flexibility — along with our ability to source testers in real-world environments — distinguishes us now more than ever.