Quality assurance can be successfully handled in house and out of house. But how do you know which is the right move for your organization, and at what time?

Today, we’re going over when it makes sense to hire internal QA employees versus when it’s a good move to bring on external resources. Then next week, we’ll be diving into how to get internal and external resources working smoothly together.

These insights are helpful for QA managers, product managers, CTOs and CIOs and other higher ups faced with staffing and resource allocation decisions.

Scenarios that require more internal QA resources

Employees are expensive, and for good reason. In just about every industry, employees cost two to three times their salary amount. When a company is hiring QAs to account for long term and sustained company growth, then the cost of hiring (including HR time, retirement benefits and insurance) are all worth it.

When there is always too much work and the internal QA team can never keep up, then it is time to bring on more internal QAs.

“If a company wants to move fast and test the features they are developing at a quick pace then definitely internal QA is more available and can jump in quicker,” says Kristi Kaljurand, Senior QA Team Lead at Testlio. “Internal QA is living and breathing along with developers. They are all in the same building hopefully. In that sense it makes more sense to have internal QAs.”

Internal QA is more available and can jump in quicker. They are living and breating along with developers.

Scenarios where outside help is needed

In many instances, external resources free up internal QAs to focus on improving the way QA is handled in an organization. This could mean more time devoted to setting up and maintaining automation suites or to innovating QA processes and testing risky features earlier on.

Getting more manual testing help can certainly empower automation, but it never means that manual testing will be replaced. Bugs are often found where we least expect them, and there are complex customer experience elements (like string translations and swiping actions) that just can’t be automated.

“Where external resources come in handy is having a lot of people and a lot of devices,” says Kaljurand. Especially with apps that have been translated, it’s impossible to have all of the native speakers needed on an in-house team.

“Definitely, the wide coverage of devices that you can have if you use external resources is very helpful because they can all work at the same time so you can get a quicker response. Let’s say you have five people working for you and you have 20 devices, they probably can not test all those 20 devices at once. But if you have 20 outside testers they can all start working at the same time, they can get all those devices covered in one hour.”

Gaining speed over the weekends can also be a huge help. When external resources can work on the weekends, then the internal team essentially gains time instead of losing it.

Overall benefits of internal QAs

The longer that QAs work with a team, the more knowledge they amass about the product.

As Sean Landis says in his book Agile Hiring:

Every person who works on your code carries around critical knowledge in his or her head that isn’t written down anywhere, or if it is, it’s probably out of date or isn’t being read. The longer that person works with your software and systems, the more value you have locked in their head.

What matters to the product’s users? What features are always at risk? Where is the product headed? Internal QAs have a wealth of knowledge that they build over time, and this expertise can be invaluable to the product, especially when development is moving quickly.

With no time zone differences or location challenges, internal QAs can test things very quickly, almost immediately. That quick feedback can help development move forward in the right direction and can represent both a cost and time savings for the entire development and QA team.

Overall benefits of external resources

Where internal resources can be knowledgeable about a product, outside testers can take a new approach.

“External help is fresh eyes,” says Kaljurand. “They can see something new. You don’t see it because you are just too deep. Fresh eyes or fresh ideas, a new way to approach testing. This is something an external person can bring along with their own testing knowledge.”

Switching between different projects can be a benefit as well. “If you are testing several different apps, you can bring the things you are learning from one project to another one and find that you can test issues there,” she says. External QAs are constantly learning new lessons from a variety of projects, and more often than not, these learnings transfer over well.

External help is fresh eyes. They can see something new.

When to hire external versus internal testers

Ultimately, the decision will come down to what an organization needs at that time. Do you need to temporarily expand your bandwidth? Are you launching a new mobile app that requires global testing for translation, usability, network connectivity and other concerns? These are times when an external pool of talent will serve you.

But if your internal team is always behind, and the lack of feedback and support for development is causing culture issues, stress, and a big gap in quality, then you’ll need more internal resources to help carry the weight. It’s wise to acknowledge that external resources do require some internal management, so when things are already at a standstill, it may require more manpower to move forward.

Testlio is the QA partner you can trust. Get in touch with us for a demo.

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