Can I afford an Independent Software Tester?

Can I afford an Independent Software Tester?

A dilemma often faced by early-stage tech startups!

Maybe the right question should be, “Can I afford not to have one?”.

As an entrepreneur building a tech or SaaS product, innovation and quality are the two things that are top of your product agenda. Innovation is the reason you are building an all-new product. However, without a superior quality of the product, the innovation presented by the product and the idea will be lost in the haze of defects and poor customer experience.

Before we move onto the affordability part, let us deep-dive into why we need independent software testers (QA Testers), even in a small early-stage tech startup. The importance of quality in your product cannot be overstated, but we will leave that out from this blog.

Let us instead try to answer the question, why do we need an independent software tester to test a product?

In the absence of a qualified software tester, the developers usually do the testing, but testing by developers is not sufficient due to the following reasons.


Our own mistakes are in our blind-spot

It is human nature that we tend to overlook our own errors. And I do not mean that they do that intentionally. The reason is more embedded in basic human psychology. If a person solves a problem in a certain way, that leaves an impression on how they look at the problem and hence tend to overlook other possibilities. That leads to incomplete testing.

Even great developers are rarely great testers

Testing is a fundamentally different mindset than development. So even if another developer tests the code to overcome the blindspot issue, developers often cannot test the code thoroughly.

One primary reason for this is that the development team is highly focused on the specifications, while ideally, we want the testing to be done against requirements (or better against client needs). So not only is it a mindset or a perspective issue, but it is also an issue with the skillset. The training skill set of testers is much different from that of a developer.

The intent of the above two points is not to say that the developers should not do testing. On the contrary, developers always have to do testing, and the testing done by them is known as Whitebox testing.

This is important because the developers can test the code with the knowledge of the design and code followed. This helps check the correctness of logic, increase code quality and find issues that would otherwise not be possible.

Having said that, Whitebox testing is not a replacement for Blackbox testing - a form of testing conducted by independent testers. Instead, it ensures coverage of use cases and scenarios from the user perspective and provides a holistic testing approach.

This brings us to the point of how an independent QA tester can help increase the quality of your product.

How an Independent Software Tester addresses these pitfalls?

A software tester brings structure to your testing efforts

Ad-hoc testing, like other ad-hoc processes, is prone to unpredictable outcomes.

When you hire QA testers they bring in the skills required to structure the entire testing process. The structure is not just for structure's sake. It brings about predictability, much higher coverage of test cases, repeatability of tests, and faster and more effective test execution.

Structured test design also makes it possible to review the testing efforts qualitatively and quantitatively, allowing for continuous improvement in the product and the testing process.

Independent QA applies testing techniques to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of testing

There are many testing and test case identification techniques to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of testing. However, while on one extreme ad-hoc testing is ineffective in general, on the other extreme exhaustive testing is a practical impossibility.

Let us illustrate this with an example: let us say there is an input field that accepts alphanumeric input of 10 characters in length. The total combinations of inputs are close to 5000 trillion. It is easy to see that this would be humanly impossible to test all these input values. However, these input combinations can be infinitely large for a usual user submission form.

To break this paradox, testers use well-defined techniques to select an optimal number of test cases and inputs to produce predictable results. Similarly, many other testing techniques increase the effectiveness of testing.

QA brings in the user perspective.

The key objective of independent testing is to focus on the user perspective. That is done by shifting the focus from testing the product against specifications to testing the product against requirements. This seemingly subtle difference brings a paradigm shift in how you define quality.

Establishes processes that test the right thing at the right time

There are many ways to test an application. These different types of testing are needed at different stages in the life cycle of a project. We cannot afford to test the application end to end at each exit gate of a life cycle, and a good software tester is trained to do this effectively.

They execute the well-suited test cases at different stages to get the best possible quality with an optimal effort. It also reduces risk in the process without increasing costs.

Enhances productivity by bringing in automation

The role of a well-trained QA is no longer limited to manual testing.

They are equipped with skills and tools to automate the testing process. This makes the system less error-prone, repeatable, and highly efficient in the long run. However, automation takes initial effort and investment but pays dividends over the product's lifetime.

The need for automation is much higher when the product is built using agile methodology and released using DevOps practices.

Reduces the risk in the project

In the previous sections, we alluded to “predictability” several times. Predictability is achieved when the risks are lowered.

As per PMI, project risks are the most important agenda to discuss in any meeting. One of the most common and significant risks that any development project faces is the risk of quality. When a large number of defects are found towards the end of the project, it adds unanticipated delays in the project.

Undetected defects are passed into production, leading to more severe business risks, including loss of revenue and goodwill. By finding defects early, a QA helps reduce these significant risks in a project.

Now that we know the value a QA can bring to your software testing process, let's consider whether we can afford to hire QA testers

Before we could discuss the affordability of a QA, it was essential to establish the problem statement and the solutions. The above discussion establishes beyond doubt the importance of having an independent QA (or a full-fledged QA department as you grow big).

However, keeping the budgets under control is equally important, so let us see how including a QA will affect the cost of your operations (keeping the benefits aside).

The myth we must address here is that the QA is an additional cost.

First, let us understand one thing whether you hire QA testers or not, testing is to be done by someone. It has to be done by your current team as there is no escaping it. If it is to be done by developers, do note that they are usually much more expensive than other QA resources. Further, they are also less effective at testing.

So when you add a software tester to the team, it offloads a lot of testing effort (Whitebox testing still has to be done by developers) from the shoulders of developers. This means that either your developers’ team will require lesser additions, or they can be more productive in doing what they do best, viz., coding.

In a nutshell, the cost of a QA tester is not really an additional cost.

First, that work is being done by someone even now - just that it is being done less efficiently and less effectively.

Secondly, it can be done with a relatively cheaper resource, bringing down your total cost. And lastly, the business savings will top all of this by leaps and bounds.


You cannot afford not having a QA tester in your team!

QA Testers are an integral part of the entire development process and need to be accounted for by any business which wishes to offer a high-quality, bug-free product experience to its customers. When you hire software testers in the early stages of the development process you will have substansial savings in terms of time and money.  

To know more about QA testers and the value they can add to your organization or hire one, visit our website, or just email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.