Staffing QA in Today’s Tight Economy Prioritizing Investments, Crowdsourcing Innovation, and Automation Product leaders tasked with staffing QA teams face the daunting challenge of delivering high-quality end-user experiences with static or even shrinking budgets. Today’s uncertain economy has CEOs telling CFOs to tighten budgets, forcing product leaders to cut operating expenses, downsize, and freeze hiring. But at the same time, board rooms expect these leaders to ensure the digital transformation is keeping pace with competitors and fueling the growth initiatives of the business. These conflicting directives mean CTOs, CPOs, and VPs of engineering must find more optimized ways to build, test, and manage customer-facing applications. Investments must prioritize essentials and trim excess. QA staffing strategies must be smarter. Automation must be leveraged to increase efficiency, but without sacrificing the unique advantages of human insight testing. In this article, we’ll develop a three-pronged strategy for meeting today’s staffing QA needs. You can overcome today’s challenges through a combination of optimizing your QA budget, leveraging crowdsourced testing staffing innovations, and pragmatically unlocking the efficiencies of automated testing. While these elements of achieving test coverage are distinct, they are highly complementary when combined into a comprehensive testing strategy. Consensus-Driven Prioritization To cut costs without sacrificing innovation, it’s critical to develop a budgeting strategy that prioritizes the right QA investments. In order to avoid internal roadblocks, your QA budget should be developed in partnership with counterparts from your finance team, such as your CFO and VP of Finance. Today’s finance department has greater input into technology budget decisions, and you’ll need to build a consensus through effective advocacy to earn buy-in for both investments and the inevitable tradeoffs that will be required to do more with less. You can strengthen your case by demonstrating how your proposed innovations will impact the top and bottom line of the business. The investment profile should be anchored on unlocking operational efficiencies and delivering a better ROI on engineering investments. The good news is QA can represent an excellent area of opportunity to unlock greater efficiency. That’s because traditional staffing models for QA often don’t always align with the inherently episodic nature of testing. You can identify areas for efficiency gains by asking critical questions about whether the right resources are being spent on the right things. Start with a set of challenge questions, including: Is there human idle time (waste) in the QA system, and why? Are your developers getting pulled into tactical QA activities? Is the current model leading to time lapses in the release cycle? Are there manually intensive handoffs across the engineering-to-QA continuum? What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the existing QA talent staffing model? The answers to these questions will not only uncover the optimization opportunities but will also serve as currency for collaboration with finance counterparts. Next comes prioritization, the discipline of determining where best to apply finite QA capacity. This starts with documenting a testing strategy to ensure ongoing alignment of investments to the most critical outcomes for the business. For example, QA investment prioritization might be about testing earlier in the development lifecycle to align with the business goal of increasing the velocity of digital transformation. Alternatively, QA investment priorities might mean reallocating resources from legacy products to growth areas. Unlock the Staffing Efficiencies of Crowdsourced Testing Adopt a staffing strategy that represents the most efficient use of resources, not necessarily one that involves hiring the cheapest labor. Hiring full-time staff during peak periods and downsizing during economic downturns isn’t the most efficient talent utilization strategy. Losing quality staff can leave knowledge gaps, result in more bugs, and negatively impact the overall quality of your product. An optimized staffing strategy should seek to unlock a capacity model with the flexibility to scale up and down to match QA demand and external economic conditions. Crowdsourced testing represents an innovative staffing model that delivers the flexibility that product teams need to respond to evolving and often unpredictable internal and external forces. During critical moments and high-activity periods like new product releases or geographic expansion, QA capacity is dynamically increased to ensure adequate test coverage. Leverage the Power of Automation Your test automation strategy forms another key component of cost-efficient QA staffing. The right automation strategy can cut your labor costs by increasing the efficiency of the time your staff spends. When applied to the right test cases, leveraging machines to conduct routine QA testing procedures will be faster and cheaper. To implement an efficient automation strategy, it’s vital to carefully select the right quality assurance solution and get the right guidance when deploying it. Poor software selection or mismanaged implementation can backfire by reducing efficiency and driving up the total cost of ownership on automated testing initiatives. Avoid vendor lock-in with an inefficient tool by making portability a priority. Seek a solution that applies automation and humans together to unlock efficiencies, rather than merely thinking in terms of shifting work from humans to machines. Best-in-class tools include support features to help you meet these requirements when selecting and implementing software. Testlio’s Automated Testing Center of Excellence provides leadership, best practices, research, support, and training to help organizations implement efficient testing. A key feature to look for is the ability to combine automation with manual testing. A good automated software testing services solution should include strong analytic tools to let you identify issues that need to be pushed to manual testers. Third-party integrations can help you pull signals from partners to trigger manual review. This empowers you to maximize the efficiency you get from automation while making the best use of your human staff. Cut Your QA Budget by Integrating Crowdsourcing With Automated Testing You can achieve quality assurance on a tight budget with an efficient combination of budgeting, staffing, and automated testing strategies. Prioritize where you will spend precious resources. Unlock staffing innovation to get a better return on talent. Leverage automation to reduce manual work and unlock even more value. Resources like Testlio that bring automated and manual testing together with a strong expert support network can help you realize these objectives within the constraints of your QA budget.