Offshore Test Management Challenges and Solutions

By Ishan Randeepa

Contracting testing management to an offshore vendor is a popular solution, which has many benefits, but there are also many challenges. Several challenges identified when offshore test management happens mentioned below.

Adopt and follow the same process and tools

Challenge: - Both offshore and onshore teams should be operate same management tools and should adopt and follow the same process. For example, onshore team should use same defect tracking tool which offshore team is using.

Solutions: - Conducting trainings, knowledge transfer sessions, reward the early adopters and continuous learning are some solution for this challenge. Apart from that, both offshore and onshore teams must follow same process correctly.

Requirements and Domain knowledge gap issues

Challenge: - Offshore test team should have same idea as Onsite team about domain and onsite team should have clear idea about testing environment which offshore team is using. In addition, both teams must be in the same page about requirements.

Solutions: - Conducting synchronization meetings, knowledge transfer sessions. Updating the offshore team about changes. Both offshore test team and developers should be in the same page about requirements and both teams should try to minimize last minute changes. Moreover, onboarding training should be conduct properly.

Lack of understanding about QA principles of onsite team

Challenge: - Onsite team especially developers should be have basic idea about main QA principles such as quality metrics, test reports, etc.

Solutions: - Make sure team is having right, productive resources. If there is any lack of understanding about QA process and practices of developers, offshore test management team should give basic training for them.

Language barriers

Challenge: - Language differences makes project communications difficult. Better communication skills are mandatory for both onshore and offshore teams. Otherwise, misunderstandings among teams can easily happen. Things may get lost in translation.

Solutions: - Better communication skills are mandatory for both onshore and offshore teams. Using data dictionary, avoid misunderstandings by communicating clearly, effectively and not ambiguous. Onsite team should share information with the offshore team in a more specific natural way. Regular voice / face-to-face interaction with team could be useful to improve communication skills of team members.

Offshore onshore unbalance

Challenge: - Offshore onshore balance should depend on percentage of workload each teams got and complexity of the process.

Solutions: - Onsite team should allow offshore team to focus attention to key value add tasks. PM should avoid giving them multiple additional manual tasks that get in the way of delivery. In addition, the offshore management team need to review and monitor quality of work done by their teams. They should not rely on onsite team uncovering issue and communicating it to offshore management.

Skills and knowledge gap

Challenge: - Skills and expertise may be specialized. Moreover, there may be a risk of bad performance of the vendor.

Solutions: - Offshore vendor choice is very crucial. To select the most suitable vendor there are several factors need to consider.

  • Get the vendor background details first.

  • Investigate process and methodology that they are following.

  • Find out technologies and references, which they are using.

Insufficient communication

Challenge: - This is very critical factor for the success of the project. In spite of the distances between the parties, communication still must happen. Daily calls, meetings, video conferences should be used to maintain constant communication.

Solutions: - Communicate often and communicate effectively is one way to overcome this challenge. Make sure that if there is something going wrong with project that this is communicated and shared without delaying on the hope that it will be resolved without anyone finding out, which can result in delayed escalation of an issues that jeopardies a project and meeting a deadline. Conduct regular meetings, calls, video conference and using real time messaging software like ‘Slack’ could be useful. Try to ensure there is voice / face-to-face interaction with team. Better than just email which can hinder teamwork and collaborative environment

Hidden costs

Challenge: - Offshore test management is cost effective but it can include hidden costs like onsite visits of the offshore team members, training and communication costs.

Solutions: - Keep regular meetings short and focused. Use collaborative tools such as MS Live Meeting, WebEx for trainings and meetings, Hire the expert members are some ways to minimize the hidden costs.

Time zone difference

Challenge: - To overcome time zone difference, there must be good coordination and process. Its challenge when something like scheduling meetings and calls. For example 8.00 AM meeting for onsite team can be staying late for the offshore team.

Solutions: - Need to make sure overlap at least an hour’s work time between offshore and onshore teams. Most productive work should be done while offshore and onshore teams are working at same time.

Offshore team members are not treated as same as onsite team.

Challenge: - Low morale and feel disconnected or away of the offshore team members can be affect to project success.

Solutions: - Make sure to remember that onsite and offshore are two sides of an equation. Nobody is less and nobody is more. Unless these two counterparts act in harmony, project is going to be terrible. Make sure offshore team is recognized and given credit where it’s due and feel part of the overall team, motivated to put in best efforts for project