The Debate of Onshore Testing vs. Offshore Testing

Posted in Onshore | May 1, 2012 Onshore Testing vs. Offshore Testing

There is an ongoing debate whether American companies benefit from offshore testing and deciding if software testing should be onshore or offshore. Any project starts with three main goals: maximum value, greater efficiency, and integration. There are many things to consider when outsourcing any software testing project. The first thing that comes to mind is quality vs. quantity. It is better to have one friend of great value than to have many friends of little value (Zelinski, 2010). The same can be said for software test engineers. A certified tester vs. self trained tester is a great example. As with anything, someone who is willing to study and learn the correct procedures would be your first choice. You would not want a self trained doctor performing a procedure that they learned surfing the internet - you obviously want someone who went to school, trained, completed their M.D. and is board-certified. You want someone who knows and follows the procedures. To achieve efficiency you must have testers who are knowledgeable, well-trained, and have attention to detail.

Another issue is that overseas laws are not governed by the U.S. This could pose a problem with security and proprietary material. Although many believe that a Non-Disclosure document will solve this issue, there is still a matter of the added expense of prosecuting overseas.

Forecasting the future is not easy. Researching companies before signing on the dotted line can save you cost, and help maximize the value of your dollar. Do companies actually consider what could happen if a legal team had to get involved over lack of performance?

The next issue is time zone. Onshore time zones are only 1-3 hours apart which can be easily worked with. The time zone difference for offshore can be around 12 hours, night and day apart. Although setting up communication standards through e-mail or voice conferences are options, the time difference means someone is inconvenienced. A major issue might go twelve hours before reaching the leader of the testing team. Time wasted or not well spent is another cost factor.

Language barriers and design culture are also at issue. Communicating in your first language gives you the ability to express yourself in a natural way. When you have a second language, you will always have the question, "Am I getting my point across?" The phrasing of questions, improper grammar, even spelling issues are enough to cause significant confusion. The ability to read and follow specification documents, write reports and summary documents in a clear and precise method is important. In an agile environment, there is no time to second guess verbal or written instructions.

Let's talk about the cost of onshore vs. offshore. Back in the 80's, the IT world was churning and burning with a mindset of "make as much money as you can as fast as you can." So let's assume the onshore billing rate of $80/hr and offshore billing rate of around $35/hr (this is just a guess from my experience in working in the IT outsourcing business), if the total person billed on an average works for 160 hrs a month, then the onshore price = $80 x 160 = $12,800. If the person billed is $35/hr then the billed price would be $35 x 160 = $5,600. That is a savings of $7,200. Many onshore companies have seen the fire go out and have gone back to reasonable pricing. With a little bit of research, you will now find American companies who will meet or beat the price of offshore testers. With the pricing field leveled out, American companies are competing for onshore business at your convenience. No time barriers, no language barriers, no security issues, if you can find certified tester onshore, you are not only helping our economy you are getting a value for your dollar and saving yourself the hassle of miscommunication, time related issues, and still getting the bang for your buck.

In all, when the complete service is looked at in detail, there is only one positive side: PRICE. Not service, convenience, or security. Never do you here an individual at a company that outsources talk about anything other than price. When you put all of these negatives together, the whole idea of "pricing" doesn't really look all that great.