Offshore Software Testing: Why & When to Use It

Inna M. & Mykhailo T. by Inna M. & Mykhailo T. on 09/29/2023

Offshore Software Testing: Why & When to Use It

Businesses around the world regularly face the challenge of wanting to ensure the highest quality of software but also needing to refrain from overspending. This struggle has become more apparent in the last year, when the threat of an economic recession causes companies to cut costs wherever possible without sacrificing the quality of their products. And for many companies, the solution for these struggles is offshore testing. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of offshore testing, how to find the right partner, and how to make the most of an offshoring project.

What is offshore software testing?

Offshoring is a term used in many industries and for many different services, not limited to software-related ones. However, offshore software testing services are definitely among the most popular types of offshoring. Offshore software testing is the practice of entrusting some or all of the company’s testing needs to one of the QA testing companies located in a different geographic and time zone.

Onshore vs. offshore QA testing

Circling back to the definition of offshore testing, we must point out that the geographic factor is crucial, as it implies that not every remote team is an offshore one. When remote testers are located in the client’s country and region, and when they work in the same hours and have the same native language, we are talking about onshore software testing instead of offshore.

In many ways, offshore and onshore testing models are very similar to one another. For example, the same choice of digital communications is available in both cases, and it’s possible to find experienced testers with a strong work ethic both with offshore and onshore collaborations. However, there are also instances where onshore QA professionals are the superior option — mainly, due to the company’s familiarity with local governments and the absence of time-zone issues. Naturally, these advantages come at an additional price, so offshoring is still the go-to way for companies to enhance their QA process.

Offshore Software Testing-1

Key benefits of offshore software testing

At first glance, the biggest advantage of offshoring testing seems to be cost savings. And while the desire to lower the cost of testing is probably the most common reason why companies go for an offshore over an in-house or onshore team, it’s definitely not the only one. Here is why a company or product owner is likely to find offshore testing an invaluable measure.


The number one advantage of offshore testing is the ability to cut costs. This is achieved in multiple ways. First, labor costs in the most popular offshoring countries is significantly lower than labor costs in North America or Western Europe. Second, offshore companies take care of things like office space, benefits, legal issues, and taxes, which means you don’t face any additional costs other than the cost of the project or the salary of your team members.

Strategic partnership

Offshore testing helps you create long-term strategic partnerships at a fraction of the cost compared to hiring experts in-house or using nearshore QA services. Many offshore contracts last for years, meaning your international team is fully integrated in the development and QA process, providing reliable insights and taking full responsibility for the quality of the product. This also is something you cannot achieve by cooperating with freelancers, as they are not committed to the company in any way.

Higher quality of software

After all, the main goal of testing is to increase the overall quality of the application, and that’s where offshore testing comes in handy. The offshore team is fully committed to the quality of your product and uses every approach to keep it at the desired level. Moreover, since the QA team has no relationship with the software development team and does not take part in the development process, they are able to avoid bias and test the software program without any preconceptions.

Access to a larger talent pool

Depending on where you live, chances are it’s challenging to hire testing professionals, especially if you’re looking for specific industry or technical expertise — there may simply not be enough of those professionals in the area, and they may not be willing to switch jobs very often. Moreover, testing experts may be very expensive to hire, particularly when it comes to niche specialists. With offshore software testing, you can easily find whatever experts your project requires.

Faster releases

The fierce competition in nearly every market causes companies to revise their production schedule, and offshore testing services can be the solution these companies are looking for. By having one team work in-house and another team test the solution on a different schedule, businesses can achieve a round-the-clock production process and quick turnaround, meaning that software is tested and released faster to beat the ever-growing competition.

Government support

In many world regions, including Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, governments are well aware of the benefits of offshore software development and testing for the economy, and take various steps to attract more Western companies as clients. From special taxation policies to all-around legal support both for the vendor and the client, popular offshore QA locations invest a lot of effort into becoming even larger tech hubs, and clients can for sure benefit from it.

Absolute flexibility

Unlike traditional in-house hiring, offshore testing provides far more flexibility to a business. There are usually several cooperation models available, including fixed cost, time and material, and dedicated team. The right model can ensure the client’s ability to scale the team up or down as needed, add or remove testing services. Moreover, the project duration can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few years — and you, as the customer, are calling the shots.

Robust documentation

The majority of offshore testing vendors have strict policies for their testers regarding documentation and deliverables. At every stage of the testing process, the offshore team will document everything they do and every outcome they receive. This allows you to know for a fact whether your solution conforms to all functional and non-functional requirements, as well as helps you avoid problems that typically stem from miscommunication and lack of reporting.

Limitations and drawbacks of the offshore testing model

Like pretty much any concept in the world, offshore testing services have both advantages and disadvantages. We’ve already talked at length about the advantages of this model; now let’s focus on the typical drawbacks of offshore testing QA services.

Cultural and language differences

The very concept of offshore services implies that you’re going to work with a team with a completely different cultural background, mindset, and that often they’re going to speak a different language between themselves. Of course, an offshore company that ventures into an international market usually invests into teaching English to its employees, but their level of English doesn’t always cover areas besides purely technical needs.

When working with an international team, you’ll also need to be aware of cultural differences and local work ethic in the area where your team is located. Specifically, your team may turn out to have a different understanding of deadlines, time management, or subordination in the workplace. However, these issues are nothing a dedicated project manager cannot resolve through research, open communication, and mutual understanding.

Let’s take TestFort as an example. TestFort is a distributed team of over 160 QA Engineers and other tech specialists located mainly in Eastern and Central Europe. All of our specialists freely communicate in English, so language differences have never been the problem. However, thanks to the fact that we have Bruce Mason, a highly experienced Head of Delivery who lives and operates in the United Kingdom as a British national, we can go one step further in terms of customer service, compliance, accountability, and familiarity with local business and legal practices.

By being able to not only efficiently communicate with the clients online, but also meet them face to face, Bruce essentially bridges the gap between the client and the vendor that often appears with offshore collaboration, allowing our company to be there for our clients in more ways and get a full understanding of our clients’ business needs. And with TestFort’s plans to increase onshore presence in more locations besides the UK — mainly, the US and Western Europe — we will soon be able to add value for clients to ensure that the engagements are successful in a way they want them to be.

Time zone differences

When you’re running a large QA operation and combine the inputs of both offshore and in-house or onshore QA teams, then time zone differences are an advantage, as the software gets tested nearly round the clock, which delivers results faster and minimizes release times. However, when exclusively relying on the services of an offshore team, a 9 to 13-hour difference can become an inconvenience, as there won’t be many instances for communicating live with your team. In this case, everyone can benefit from adopting asynchronous communication methods. Moreover, many offshore vendors are willing to go the extra mile for their clients and adjust the team’s working hours to fit the customer’s schedule.

Substandard quality of work

This is an issue you typically don’t have to worry about when you work with a carefully selected team with a proven success record. However, when the vetting process is not taken seriously or skipped altogether, or when you go for the most low-cost vendor, you can often discover that the outcome of the cooperation is not what you imagined. This can also lead to hidden costs of you having to hire another team that is able to find and fix the issues missed by the original team.

software testing offshore team

Assembling the perfect software testing offshore team: Structure and responsibilities

Building an offshore quality assurance team is one of the most fundamental decision in the whole process. It can get even more challenging than regular hiring because you don’t get to meet the prospective candidates in real life and need to only rely on their CVs and video interviews to make the decision. Still, deciding who to hire and for which roles is something that will have a lasting effect on the whole project.

There are no universal standards when it comes offshore teams because it all depends on the size and complexity of the project, its anticipated duration, as well as the already available testing resources. In case you are planning to entrust the entire scope of testing to an offshore team, its composition will typically include the following roles:

  • Manual QAs — these are specialists who do the biggest chunk of the work on a typical testing project. Manual QAs can get to work almost immediately without a lengthy preparation period. A medium-sized QA project is going to lead 3 to 5 manual QAs.
  • QA Lead — a person who is in charge of managing the manual QA team. In some cases, the role of a Manual QA Lead is filled by a Senior-level member of the team; in that case, the Lead not only manages the team and communicates with the client, but also does hands-on testing work.
  • Automation QAs — essential specialists for any mid-sized to large testing project, especially one with a lot of tests that are run repeatedly, such as regression tests. The automation team typically comes on board after the manual team has already completed a portion of work, although sometimes Automation QAs can start simultaneously with the Manual QAs in case there are some tests completed already — for example, by a previous QA team.
  • Automation QA Lead — an engineer who oversees the work of the Automation QA team and participates in various testing tasks. A common scenario is when the Automation Lead joins the project before the rest of the team, so that, by the time other Automation QAs begin working on the project, there is already a solid foundation for their next steps.
  • Project Manager — a vital specialist that acts as the link between the client and the vendor. The PM can operate on the vendor’s side, but that only makes sense in case of a large project that involves services besides testing. For most testing projects, a Project Manager working on the client’s side is the most fitting setup.
  • DevOps Engineer —  a specialist responsible for creating the infrastructure for a project and making sure the development and testing departments have everything needed to work efficiently and without interruptions. The Devops Engineer can work on the client’s side, but it can be a big advantage in favor of the vendor when they have their own DevOps department ready to take over all related tasks.
  • Business Analyst — a person who uses various ways to source business data and insights to then suggest ways for an organization to move forward in terms of business success. The work of a Business Analyst is directly linked to high-quality software produced by an organization, which is why a BA being involved in a testing project, at least in a part-time role, is a strong advantage.

In addition to that, the presence of the development team is integral for a successful start of a QA project and for achieving the desired results. Otherwise, the client risks hiring an offshore testing team only for them to run the initial tests and then have nothing much else to do because there is no one to fix the bugs. Many companies thrive by working with two offshore teams — one for development, and the other one for testing — or having the development team operate in-house. In any case, it’s up to the client to ensure smooth cooperation between all departments to avoid bottlenecks within the project.

Software QA tech stack: Most popular services

One of the main reasons why more and companies now prefer to use offshore software testing services is that with offshoring, it’s possible to work with niche experts you cannot always easily hire locally. And that expertise includes not only specific domain experience, but also familiarity with certain technologies. It’s very common for in-house teams to only work with a limited number of technologies, and getting your team to master those technologies takes time and money, which makes it not the most financially feasible option.

Luckily, an offshore team for testing software meets even the most unusual requirements in terms of types of testing, technologies, and latest tools you want to use on the project. Here are the technologies often requested by clients.

How to find the right offshore software testing partner

Whether you need a team for a small, limited-time task, or you are planning long-term collaboration with the same vendor, the choice of an offshore partner is one of the most fundamental ones you’ll have to make. A team selected for the wrong reasons, or with barely any selection process at all, may not deliver the results you expect, and the likelihood of facing common issues and obstacles increases. Here is how to choose a partner for a fruitful and mutually satisfying QA cooperation.

1. Get clear on the requirements

The first and one of the most crucial steps to a fruitful offshore collaboration is to achieve full clarity and internal agreement on the project requirements. Specifically, you need to know which services you need from the vendor, on what scale, and for how long. You may also have extra requirements when it comes to the domain expertise or unique skills of the team. Finally, you should know how many team members you need, at least an approximate number — a small vendor may simply not have enough available resources for a large project, and hiring multiple new specialists in limited time isn’t always an option. A vendor with 150 or more specialists on board will usually be able to quickly assemble a QA team of any size.

1. Research the skills and services

This one’s simple: decide which tasks exactly you need the offshore team to handle and whether they have the capacity to do so. It’s important to know from the start whether you are looking for just one team to handle the entire massive of tasks, or you have the financial and management ability to work with multiple teams. When going for the first option, it’s vital to reach an agreement on what your team can and cannot do for you. It’s definitely more financially feasible to work with just one team, but sometimes, when you need rare services and technical expertise, you need to use extra help from another vendor. Also, make sure that the vendor’s claims to possess certain skills and experience are backed up by relevant portfolio entries.

3. Review the project portfolio

Any reputable offshore QA company that has been in the market for some time must have a portfolio of projects — after all, it’s often the only way to evaluate the vendor’s experience and grasp of relevant technologies and testing techniques. The cases in the portfolio will typically contain information on which services were delivered, over which period of time, as well as the size and composition of the team. Ideally, the case study also has to contain information on the client’s industry and type of product, so that you could find previous works most relevant to your own situation. A detailed project portfolio will give you information not only on what the company can do, but also on how exactly it does it.

4. Discuss the cooperation options

Offshore testing companies usually offer a selection of cooperation models that fit the needs of most clients. Most vendors provide the following minimum of models:

  • Fixed cost — where the cost of the project is known from the start after extensive calculations and changes are typically not allowed after the project begins.
  • Time and material — where you can benefit from flexible requirements and change the scope and scale of the project as you go, paying for the time of all employees involved in the project.
  • Dedicated team — where you can assemble an entire team of QA engineers and other specialists, and work with them for as long as you need, not necessarily tying the cooperation to just one project.

Additionally, many vendors offer a fourth model, called hybrid or fixed cost plus. During the initial consultations, the vendor can recommend you the most suitable model for your project requirements. Still, at the end of the day, it’s your choice to make, and the vendor needs to show understanding and flexibility.

5. Ask about communication practices

Since you and your offshore team are not going to share an office, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever work from the same premises throughout your entire collaboration, you will need to rely on various communication methods to ensure a smooth workflow. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you and your team are on the same page in terms of communication channels, sync-up schedules, hours of availability for a chat or call, and other communication parameters you find important. You can usually expect the vendor to adapt to your communication practices — for example, by using specific tools for chats and calls.

6. Consider time zone and language differences

Time and language differences are a common issue companies face when offshoring their QA needs, and while they can usually be mitigated with proper management and open communication, these difference turn out to be dealbreakers for some companies. At the very least, you need to make sure that the team has at least some working proficiency in English and a strategy to improve their language skills in case they are lacking. As for the time zones, the solutions can be different: in case of a large difference, some vendors are even prepared to alter their schedule to make sure that at least a few hours of their workday overlap with the client’s.

7. Evaluate the work ethic

This is something that is hard to fully gauge before the start of the project, but you can still catch glimpses of the team’s work ethic while preparing for the collaboration. For example, pay attention to how long it takes for the manager to reply to your questions, and how complete their answers are. And keep in mind that at this stage, the vendor is still trying to win you over, so if the responsible team members take hours to reply and their replies cannot be called complete, things can further change for the worse once you start working together. It’s also a good idea to research the company online to find reviews from former clients that the company didn’t publish on their own site.

How to make the most of your offshore testing team

When you hire offshore testing team, the choice of a vendor and the composition of the team are obviously important, as is the scope of work you plan to hand over to the new team. However, when using offshore software testing services, the work doesn’t stop there, as the team also needs to be continuously and effectively managed to keep the quality of your software product at a desired level. Here are some tips for efficiently managing your offshore partners.

1. Get to know your QA team members

Starting with the correct spelling and pronunciation of your colleagues’ names, try to better know them and make them know each other in order to strengthen your personal and professional bonds you need while working together. It’s a good idea to ask your offshore testing team members to make simple one-sliders about themselves including a photo and some basic information. In case you have both an in-house and an offshore QA team, establishing a good rapport should be one of your main priorities. An experienced and highly motivated project manager can successfully cope with this task.

2. Be a strong communicator & handle the language barrier

In the absolute majority of cases, offshore QA team members have a good enough grasp of English to handle both technical documentation and everyday communication. But that doesn’t mean your project is immune from possible communication issues. When you are working with people located offshore, communication skills gain an even more important value. Regular team calls and text communication, along with the occasional informal conversation or team building event, can solve many of the communication problems that can take place with an offshore software testing company.

3. Arrange a realistic onshore-offshore balance

If your company delivers both development and testing services and has offshore offices, it’s tempting to assign the whole testing part to an offshore team. But this is a trap you don’t want to get in. Rather than thinking of the offshore percent of the workflow you’d like to reach in the project to reduce your target cost, look at what you are really able to entrust to offshore QA expertise, considering such issues as the complexity of your business processes, accessibility constraints of the testing systems, etc. 

That way, both the in-house and the offshore teams will have a crystal clear understanding of their duties, and you will be able to assign different tasks to the most capable team members depending on their specialty.

4. Adapt your issue management process

Most projects use management tools for documenting and tracking defects since these can be operated from either onshore or offshore locations. However, many projects miss out on issue management for resolving some functional, technical and business related queries an offshore quality assurance team might face during test phases. That’s why you should make sure your offshore team uses some web-powered document management system properly. You also need to be aware of time zone differences: with proper management, even a 13-hour difference can turn into an advantage, as a significant time difference allows you to set up a nearly non-stop testing operation with maximum productivity and efficiency.

5. Manage the documentation on your deliverables properly

Work out a set of guidelines on documentation management covering test scenarios, test scripts, test execution and results documentation. Choose the right test management tool for your company’s needs bearing in mind their effectiveness and accessibility across different locations. It’s also important to begin the documentation process right from the start of the project or even before it is launched. As a result, all the parties involved in the testing project will be able to quickly refer to the documentation in case there are any misunderstandings.


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Onsite-offshore software testing services: Are they worth it?

While many companies around the world work exclusively offshore development and testing teams, there is an increasing number of companies that now use the combination of onsite and offshore testing. Onsite & offshore QA testing services definitely seem like an attractive idea on paper. Let’s look at this model and its pros and cons in more detail.

What is onsite & offshore QA testing?

The onsite and offshore software QA model is a hybrid delivery approach that takes the best from the two models and combines them into a new winning solution. Under this model, the entire job of testing a software product will be distributed between the onsite and the offshore team. There can be more than one offshore team working on the same project, and they are not necessarily going to be from different countries — although, more often than not, the term “offshore” means “overseas” in this context. 

How onsite and offshore QA works

The overall composition and setup of a team on an onsite & offshore software testing project can depend on many factors, including the skill sets possessed by each team member and the specifics of the project. The client will also make the decision based on the business interests — e.g. how much of the work it makes financial sense to entrust to an offshore team.

On some projects, the distribution of work is 30% and 70% to the offshore and onsite teams respectively. In other cases, it’s closer to a 50/50 distribution. And some companies prefer to hire offshore software testing team only for a small fraction of the work — 20% or 30% of the scope. This is typically reserved for companies that are looking for specific QA expertise they may not have in-house, such as automation testing, usability testing, and accessibility testing.

Advantages of the onsite – offshore software testing model

At first glance, it may seem like planning an onsite and offshore QA project takes more time and effort than doing the work completely in-house or outsourcing the full scope to an offshore QA team. But why do so many companies prefer the combined delivery method nonetheless? These are the biggest advantages of using onsite and offshore testing services:

  1. Uninterrupted software development and testing life cycle. When used right, this model can assure that there is work going non-stop.
  2. Face-to-face client-team cooperation. Close cooperation helps build better communication and also enhances the business relationship between all parties.
  3. A cost-effective delivery model. Offshore teams usually cost less and can be quickly scaled up and down, so you can easily reduce your expenses.

Potential challenges of onsite & offshore QA testing

As good as this delivery model is, there are possible challenges that can occur at any stage of the process. These are two of the most common issues encountered by the participants of the project:

  1. Onsite resources say that offshore resources don’t know what they are doing and are not available when they need them.
  2. Offshore teams complain that they are not getting the right inputs they need and that the onsite team is not always easy to reach.

The good news is that these issues can be easily resolved with enough commitment from all parties involved and clear communication. Here is how to remove those challenges:

  1. Remember that onsite and offshore are two sides of a coin. Nobody is more, and nobody is less. The two counterparts should coexist in harmony; otherwise, this model will eventually be broken.
  2. Establish regular communication where all sides of the project can exchange information, share knowledge and news, and promptly resolve any misunderstandings. These meetings should take place over fixed periods of time — for example, weekly. However, you need to be mindful of possible time differences.
  3. Have a list of what you need to do for one another and make sure you are working on the list and updating each other on the progress. This will help each party have a realistic view of the work in front of them, both in the short and long term.

Bottom line

By all accounts, the decision to offshore your software testing is a decision that pays off both in the short and long run. On one hand, you avoid overstaffing and facing the increasing costs of hiring locally. On the other hand, you get to work with highly skilled employees on your terms without having to enter strict contracts and being stack with a large team even when you don’t have any immediate tasks for them. Offshoring your testing needs helps you get the best of both worlds — high-quality work and smarter spending — and is therefore worth being considered. And TestFort, as a software testing company with 22+ years of experience, is ready to become your trusted provider.

Written by
Inna M., Technical Writer

Inna is a content writer with close to 10 years of experience in creating content for various local and international companies. She is passionate about all things information technology and enjoys making complex concepts easy to understand regardless of the reader’s tech background. In her free time, Inna loves baking, knitting, and taking long walks.

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