Release management builds the bridges between development, testing, deployment and support of application releases, in order to accomplish the stakeholder’s requirements and attain the intended objectives. Such solutions merge general business highlight of conventional project management with a comprehensive technical understanding of the systems development lifecycle (SDLC) and infrastructure libraries. Shortcomings in process steps or assets at this phase often leads to trepidation anticipating not very kind customer reviews. Everyone in IT industry knows how expensive can be bugs or crashes in production and how they jeopardize credibility.
Release management in the development lifecycle commonly begins with requests for changes or new functionality.If it is confirmed, the new release is scheduled and designed. Components are built, tested, unit-tested, integrated, stress- and-performance tested, and the built is tweaked until it is ultimately accepted as a release candidate. The release is deployed, made available (sometimes, to the limited audiences, i.e. beta-testers and/or dedicated fandom users, or in certain regions). Next comes a support phase, where issue reports are collected, leading to new change requests. Thus the cycle starts anew.
Several other disciplines rely on the Release Management, including Software Quality Assurance (SQA). In general, it represents a set of means and methods for supervising software engineering processes, encompassing the entire SDLC, to ensure conformance to international standard(s) or model(s). It has three main directions:
- determination and implementation of the processes ‒ project, configuration management, methodology, estimation, requirements design etc.
Modern applications are typically built under one of the popular quality management models/standards: CMMI, Agile, ISO 9000, Six Sigma, itSMF ITIL V3 etc. As soon as the processes are defined and implemented, it becomes the responsibility of software quality assurance management team to identify weaknesses in the processes and repair them. Small enterprises find it difficult to buy and learn tailored test automation techniques. Or they invest in “shelfware” automating tools: all tests are being passed, but helpdesk continues handling new tickets. This means engineers have improperly selected the procedures to be automated. Open-source automation tools bring limitations. Even for a person somewhat familiar to testing, selecting and configuring automation tool is quite challenging.
Not surprisingly, numerous US enterprise software companies opt to outsource their Quality Assurance and Release management activities. Here are the key merits why outsourced software quality assurance management makes a good business sense.
- You can return to your principal activity. Outsourcing allows more room to your core business tasks. In small-scale firms, people are sometimes asked to wear several hats.Sending tasks like QA and release management out of house can alleviate multi-tasking pressure. You can then focus on what actually makes a difference for your clients: improve usability, develop innovative product, introduce new smart features and so on.Today, even companies, which are not software development firms, are developing software. For example, banks are experts in finances, yet they need functional line-of-business and responsive apps for their customers; an online retailer hosting a store on popular Cloud server is a profound expert in its commodity group, but it needs to check all transaction scenarios across different mobile environments.
If testing is outside your area of expertise, you will not be surewhat to do, and may encounter difficulties in simulating loads, reporting of fixing issues. You may be unsure what to look for and how. Only if business entrusts coding and testing to separate teams, we can speak about objectivity and unbiased evaluation. Developers might look over bugs in their own code. While employees fulfilling testing role, e.g. helpdesk operators, are distracted from the truly important things, and can hardly be impartial. And anyway they will tackle an application only according to predictable scenarios.
- Security concerns are among reasons why companies hesitate to deploy any SDLC activity to an external agency. Firstly, by outsourcing, you do not necessarily share your source code. In mobile world, the outsourced QA comes up with unique frameworks, scripts and drivers, and, most importantly, with a sufficient set of virtual environments and hardwarefleet, which no vendor can afford to keep in-house. However, there’s no need for those contractors to immerse into code details. But whatever choices are made, by concluding a clear and exhaustive service agreement with a well-reputed partner, you will stay unruffled about violation of your intellectual property right.In this aspect, distant offshore outsourcing sometimes comes short, but this is not a rule of thumb.
- An effort to optimize time and costs. Some managers still think that keeping QA in-house saves money. They expect testing to be a lengthy phase, for which an enormous invoice will be made out. Actually, the contrary is truth. You delegate quality, deployments and rollouts to an expert partner, capable to perform them in shorter time. Testing includes many repetitive procedures, often assigned to junior IT employees. Qualified testers know what to search for and how do it, avoiding mistakes amateur and beta-testers might make. Thus, versions are released much smoother; the duration of quality assurance stage reduces ‒ your product comes faster to the market.
Many businesses simply do not need to keep quality assurance engineers among permanent staff. When testing of your big project is wrapped up, there will be no people having nothing to do any longer – you save on benefits and severance packages. Businesses, who engage with good QA partner at the initial stage, cut down on training and infrastructure, keeping themselves in a safe zone, since the defects’ cost grows as the project moves forward.
Apparently, the value of labor is considerably lower in globally recognized outsourcing regions, compared to the expenses associated with an internal quality assurance department. However, the downsides of offshoring often disappoint managers, and their shadow costs occasionally even offset the saved funds. They include:
– time zone mismatches;
– linguistic barriers, differences in cultures and mindset may lead to miscommunication;
– some foreign states have more or longer official holidays;
– traveling for onsite visit is expensive.
Finally, many countries outside of the USA have insufficient enforcement of Non-Disclosure Agreements and weak confidentiality legislation. This scales up the sensitive data protection risk.
Thankfully, today many domestic software testing companies offer budget-friendly alternatives. They are able to customize the release management methodology in order to harmonize it with your current processes, strategies and tools. They also offer wide implementation latitude: from separate products, platforms, locations etc. to entire release development and QA activities.
Having all said in mind,it is easy to see how organizations can cost-efficiently outsource QA and release management responsibilities. Even if your partner is not physically with you on-site, its off-site engineers leverage their line-of-business experience to make sure the high quality software is released on time.