QA partnerships are a great option for startups that can’t afford to bring on an in-house team. It can also help well-established companies prioritize device coverage and usability.

There are tons of options out there, and even two unique types–outsourcing and crowdsourcing. What’s the difference? And more importantly, how does that difference translate for development teams?

With crowdsourcing, you gain access to global testers at a variety of skill levels, and you’re in charge of putting together your own perfect team.

But when you outsource, your external service provider puts the team together for you, with the right testers, device coverage, and localization efforts in mind.

Because we believe that what’s good for testers is typically good for engineers too, we’re showing why you what qualities you want in an external testing solution.

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No pay-per-bug model

When you’re looking into crowdsourced testing, one of the first things you’ll discover is that testers are paid per bug found. Imagine if your hairdresser was paid for the amount of hair chopped off your head. You’d probably get a lot of inches taken off, but would it be a good haircut?

Granted, to get good ratings on these types of sites, testers must do a good job.

Regardless, crowdsourcing notoriously produces plentiful bugs that aren’t necessarily helpful or clear.

What testers get out of it: Paying per bug just feels a little degrading, doesn’t it? Or hair-pulling at best. Fast turn arounds for individual bugs doesn’t create an environment for deep, thought-out exploratory testing, sometimes requires that you come up with use cases in the moment. With the pay-per-bug model, testers aren’t paid for the valuable time they spend deciding how to interpret the goals and tasks of a user.

With an outsourced model that pays you for your time, you get to experience a much more successful method of testing–one that focuses on the performance of the app and the user experience, not a mad dash for any little thing.

What companies get out of it: Higher quality bugs.

Imagine receiving dozens or hundreds of bugs each day because people are trying to get paid.

You have to then deal with and sort through all of those. When testers are focused on delivering high-quality bugs with clear steps and prioritization it’s going to make your job of dealing with them a bajillion times easier.

Testers who are fairly compensated work together and collaborate on projects–routinely checking if other testers found the same issues. Plus, you get to feel good about communicating to testers that they are valued.

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Built-in partnering

When looking for an external QA solution, think about how you want to interface with the external team. We recommend having a single point of contact so you’re not in charge of figuring out which tester is best at covering written test cases versus which can handle less spelled out use cases.

Companies who pay per bug and per hour will often have test leads, QA managers, or project managers to help you outsource not only testing but test strategy and coverage as well.

What testers get out of it: Clearly defined task lists, use cases, and/or test cases.

Testers also have the benefit of knowing the priorities for each new sprint or iteration.

Not everything is a bug or a feature request. Some things are just questions. Testers who communicate concerns or insights to the test lead for the project have peace of mind that their input will be transmitted.

What companies get out of it: You’ll have someone to interface with–someone who knows your budget, priorities, and production schedule. This individual should ease the gap between your team and the team of testers, making everything feel more native to your process.

Reporting that reflects oversight

Make sure that the outsourced testing company you partner with has built-in methods for delivering bugs and the progress of a project. These reports should reflect the priorities of the test cycle and make it super easy for you to see where to focus your efforts.

This is where metrics, project maps, and overarching comments come in. Ask to see samples of the reporting process and check that it reflects great management and oversight (while making your life easier).

What testers get out of it: Knowledge that your quality bugs are going to be combined and consolidated (in addition to being individually delivered) so that developers know where to start next.

Considering that the vast majority of testers genuinely want issues to be fixed for users, this is great!

Testers also get practice prioritizing bugs as accurately as possible–a super important skill.

What companies get out of it: Startups and software companies get not just prioritized bugs, but clearly prioritized cycles.

They also get proof that coverage of the app is actually happening, and that every phase of the testing cycle is strategic.

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Vetted testers

Not every testing service vets their testers. Crazy right! This has given crowdsourced testing the stigma of being full of beginners–and that it’s no better than using friends or family.

You’re going to want a company that chooses quality over quantity. What does access to 200,000 or 300,000 testers mean for you? Nothing good.

Be sure to find a solution with clear standards in place.

What testers get out of it: If you can make it through the vetting process, then you know that you’re more likely to get work. Any site can present itself as having access to client projects, but when the supply is greater than the demand, that spells a big waste of time.

Plus, with fewer, more experienced testers you get stronger community pride. You feel like part of a team, even when remote.

What companies get out of it: Companies get the satisfaction of partnering with testers who know what they are doing and are passionate about bringing perfect products to market. Developers are also more likely to pair with testers who are choosing QA as a career, not a hobby for extra cash.

When it comes to QA partnerships, keeping testers and developers happy goes hand in hand! Did we miss anything in our coverage of this symbiosis? Let us know in the comments below!

Dayana is a QA engineer turned technology writer living in Milan, Italy. She's always down for a smoothie.