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“Caveat emptor” when selecting an offshore partner

I’m a regular contributor to performance testing discussion groups and user forums on the Internet. As a member of various LinkedIn and Google Groups, I often get “reminder” emails inviting me to read new content in these groups.  I’m often amazed at just how keen some people are to demonstrate their lack of proficiency in a test tool.  People often ask the most rudimentary questions, demonstrating a fundamental lack of knowledge. 

Here are a few recent examples (all of which landed in my inbox within a few days of each other).

CA Technologies

This chap is described as a “QA team lead” on LinkedIn and he works for a prestigious company, CA Technologies yet he’s asking a question that even the most junior person in our organisation could answer within a day or so of using LoadRunner. The answer to the question that he’s asking is actually in the question that he’s asked!

Hewlett Packard

Interestingly this guy describes himself as “working with HP”. To be fair to him, he hasn’t asked a technical question yet, but his career transition from functional testing with QTP to performance testing with LoadRunner could prove difficult. It appears that he isn’t getting any formal training, he’s just been given a new role and he’s expected to pick it up as he goes along. Without proper training, mentoring and technical hand-holding through his first few projects he’ll face significant difficulties, which frankly is unfair to him. 

Tata Consultancy Services

This chap is working at TCS, a well known offshore consultancy. He’s probably working for large organisation such as a bank or major multinational. If his testing involves single-sign-on (SSO), he’s probably testing an internal application, secured with Windows usernames and passwords. This isn’t inherently difficult, but if he’d worked on one of these projects before he’d know about LoadRunner’s web_set_user function and he’d be able to do this. The fact that he’s asking for advice on the Internet suggests that he’s either working without a mentor to whom he can turn for support, or he doesn’t want his mentor to know that he’s out of his depth. Neither of these situations is desirable in a tester.

I feel desperately sorry for many of these offshore testers; they’re almost certainly being forced to work beyond their abilities and that is never a pleasant experience. Having said that, I also feel sorry for their customers because they aren’t getting what they are paying for and are taking unnecessary risks by continually cost cutting and awarding work to the lowest bidder. It reminds me once again of one of my favourite Twitter images of 2013…

The key thing to remember is that when you offshore work of this sort, you don’t necessarily get what you’re paying for.

If cost-cutting is all that you’re after, you may as well post the questions on Google Groups or LinkedIn yourself and “cut out the middle man."

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