Releasing software without extensive quality assurance testing is asking for trouble. Poorly-designed software, bugs, or miserable UX dooms even the best projects – and with today’s hyper-intensive and rapid development cycles, things are sure to slip through the cracks. You can’t skimp on software testing, but planning your 2023 QA budget may feel tighter than normal amidst fears of a recession, inflation, and the global economy. You may have to work with fewer resources or face increasing pressure to reduce costs. Rather than focus on cost-cutting, optimize your resources to get the most value for your money. Optimizing your QA budget provides long-term benefits by increasing efficiency and maximizing business value for this essential service. Here are four places to start.1. Embrace automated software testing The first step in optimizing your QA budget: employ automated software testing wherever it makes sense. Automating a test case or test suite speeds up development and ensures a more solid code base while freeing up employees to tackle higher-value tasks. Now, we’re focusing on optimization, not necessarily cost savings. Automated testing tools can have high implementation costs, so pick the right automated tool and balance the cost and time when choosing manual vs. automated strategies.For example, consider the cost of skilled quality engineers writing scripts and the time suck of managing automation. Can an automated software testing tool help? Is manual easier to execute? Not every test can be — or should be — automated. Here’s a guide to what test cases should be automated and which ones benefit from a manual touch. While automated tests provide quicker script execution and testing results, they can miss apparent issues a human using real devices would easily detect. This includes the look and feel of an app, localization and language issues, and exploratory testing not covered by automation. You need to spend your time wisely by efficiently managing your automated and manual testing strategies to optimize your budget so you’re not paying for developers when you don’t have to.2. Minimize expensive dev testingGreat software engineers are hard to find and retain. They can also be expensive per hour. Tying them up with QA tasks removes them from using their core skill set. Not only does this lead to growing frustration among your engineers, but your QA cost per run also skyrockets. Engineers are not testers and shouldn’t be. They don’t necessarily match the profiles of your end users, so they may miss nuances that don’t relate directly to the code. Switching from engineer-led testing to an outsourced software testing solution can take the burden off your engineers and reduce costs. Plus, your engineers will be happier!3. Focus on burstable testingInstead of hiring and managing full-time QA teams, consider shifting to part-time or outsourced teams. Even highly-productive QA teams can have significant idle time during development cycles or in-between projects, and your best employees aren’t 100% productive while at work. Research shows most employees are only productive for about three hours each day. Hiring a full-time QA staff is not always the most cost-effective model. In fact, it rarely is. You can reduce idle time and improve productivity by using burstable testing, leveraging both automated scripts and human tests in short bursts when needed. This allows you to scale without adding employees or a long-term commitment to a third-party provider.By investing in additional tools and the right partnerships, you can handle your QA testing needs efficiently and at scale without adding additional costs over the long haul.4. On-demand outsourced software testingWhen you crowdsource or outsource your QA testing, you get faster results. These teams of experienced test specialists can be scaled quickly to meet your demands. In many cases, this allows you to accelerate development cycles by using teams in different time zones. That reduces your overall cost and helps improve your time to market.Outsourcing lets your in-house team focus on the development process and other core business functions. Removing some of the testing burdens on your team gives them more time to develop products and features.Outsourcing also provides a fresh, independent perspective. Often, developers can get so close to a product that they overlook flaws. When you outsource, you get an unbiased view of your software’s strengths and weaknesses.You can also:Save money by not having to recruit, hire, onboard, train, and retain full-time software testersGain access to the highest-quality testing tools and experienced testers instantlyFind problems quickly and remediate them without slowing down productionYou’ll need to think a little differently to optimize your QA budget. By balancing your automation and manual testing, minimizing reliance on high-cost engineers for QA testing, limiting idle capacity, and employing on-demand testing, you can improve your productivity and control costs. When you crowdsource or outsource your testing to the QA and QE specialists at Testlio, you get cost-efficient but rigid testing for superior results to ensure software quality without long-term commitments.