QA Outsourcing: Your Guide to Outsourcing Companies and Why Outsource QA

Inna M. by Inna M. on 12/30/2023

QA Outsourcing: Your Guide to Outsourcing Companies and Why Outsource QA

As the world around us is going increasingly digital, and as customers have come to expect nothing but stellar performance, outstanding usability, and unquestionable security, the issue of software quality has become one of the most crucial in the software development process.

For some companies, building an on-site team of QA experts is the preferred option. However, software quality assurance outsourcing is rapidly becoming a major alternative to in-house QA operations. Outsourcing software testing services brings countless benefits to the entire QA process. In this guide, we are going to discuss why companies outsource QA engineers and other testing roles, how to find and hire the perfect team of QA testers, and how to make the most of outsourcing testing.

What is QA outsourcing and how does it work?

Outsourcing, in general, is a practice of contracting various business functions, typically non-core ones, to an outsourcing vendor, who can be located nearshore or offshore. The IT outsourcing market is expected to reach $460.10 billion in revenue worldwide by the end of 2023. Outsourced QA makes up a large part of the total IT outsourcing market, being valued at $36.4 billion in 2022.

Outsourced QA testing means entrusting some aspects of software testing or the entire scope of quality assurance to an outside vendor. The vendor provides the test team and delivers QA services for a specified period of time and according to the defined scope of testing. The cooperation can be on a permanent basis, but project-based cooperation is also a popular option.

Outsourced team members are required to follow the project requirements down to the smallest detail. This includes the use of specific testing methodologies, testing tools, and following other testing demands. The outsourced team is not an independent QA operation — it functions as an extension of the in-house QA team, providing an additional workforce and, often, niche expertise that the in-house team does not possess.

Software testing outsourcing models

Companies have been using some form of an outsourced QA testing service for decades. Naturally, during this time, the practice of QA outsourcing has become more standardized and structured than it once used to be. Right now, there are two main models for outsourcing QA services — traditional testing services and specialist testing services. Here is what they both entail.

Traditional testing services

Traditional testing services (TTS) are exactly what they sound like. Performed typically by the in-house QA specialists with a possible addition of outsourced engineers, they involve testing the entire product before each software release and communicating the discovered defects to the development team, who then fixes them.

Traditional testing services have been used by organizations for a long time, but they come with their set of drawbacks. Most importantly, TTS are often difficult to manage and nearly impossible to scale, which is not acceptable for projects that are expected to grow or change significantly along the way.

A remarkable aspect of traditional testing services is establishing a Testing Center of Excellence. A TCoE takes complete responsibility for the quality of the product instead of just completing the tasks issued by higher management. This helps create high-quality products faster and with more opportunities for scalability and growth.

Specialist testing services

Developed as an alternative to Traditional Testing Services, Specialist Testing Services (STS) involve outsourcing the testing of particular software elements to third-party providers with relevant experience in the field. The most popular vendors for STS are testing organizations that provide these services on a regular basis to various companies, although it’s also possible to hire independent test specialists for small, short-term projects, or work with crowd-testing vendors if the goal of the project is to mainly test the usability and spotless functionality of the product.

Outsourcing your QA needs to a company providing specialized testing services makes particular sense when you’re dealing with software products from a niche industry, developed using a rare tech stack, or when the process of testing involves highly specific testing types, such as IoT testing, hardware testing, implementing artificial intelligence in quality assurance, and so on.

When to outsource quality assurance?

Even though software QA outsourcing is no longer a novelty, not all companies have enough familiarity with this service or know how to use it to meet their goals. As a result, some business owners believe that outsourcing is the universal solution to all software quality-related issues, while others think that outsourcing only makes sense for highly specialized, smaller tasks. So, when does QA outsourcing make the most sense? These are the situations where you should consider outsourcing your QA needs.

Time-sensitive tasks

Sometimes, you just need to have your software tested, and you need it urgently. Deciding on the in-house team composition and then hiring new team members can take well over a month, which is the time you don’t always have. With outsourcing, you can go from the introductory call to the launch of the project in as little as ten days. Your outsourcing partner will advise on the team size and structure, as well as offer you a choice of the most fitting candidates for each team role, allowing you to start testing fast and with better results.

Internal team is missing the required skills

Many quality assurance projects successfully go on for years using only the most basic testing types and tools. However, when the project calls for specific expertise, such as API testing or testing automation, it often turns out that no one on the team possesses the required skills. This is where outsourcing comes into play. It allows companies to fill the knowledge gaps quickly and continue the testing process without any interruptions while taking advantage of cutting-edge industry and technical expertise.

Resource-intensive, long-term project

With long-term, all-encompassing testing projects, cost savings are the main reason for outsourcing QA. When you need to employ many QA experts on a full-time, continuous basis, the expenses linked to the project can be difficult to handle for small or medium-sized companies. Outsourcing your QA needs to an external provider, where rates can be twice as low compared to local hiring, makes it more financially feasible to run long-term testing projects without sacrificing the quality of work.

Small or temporary project

When you only need to test a small software product or want to focus on a particular aspect of testing, such as regression testing or security testing, it may not make sense to make any permanent hiring decisions because you may not have a continuous supply of tasks to entrust to new team members in the long run. Instead, outsourcing offers you the flexibility you will definitely come to appreciate, as you can pause, continue, end, or expand your cooperation with the vendor as your project needs change.

Focus on core business needs

When you have a large team that consists of many departments where everyone is responsible for their own chunk of work, there is usually a separate department that takes care of principal business needs and competencies. However, not every business can afford that. As a result, trying to both do the testing on your own and continue working on core business needs, your attention becomes unevenly distributed, and both areas of work begin to suffer. Entrusting testing to a reputable provider allows you to focus on tasks that matter the most or tasks you’re simply better at.

When outsourcing is not the best option

As much as outsourced quality assurance benefits businesses of all calibers, it’s not a universal solution for 100% of software quality-related challenges. Sometimes, outsourcing is simply not viable enough as an alternative to hiring in-house. Here is where you need to think twice before deciding to outsource testing.

Highly specific industry or solution

When developing software for a niche industry, or when dealing with unique types of software — for example, for the Internet of Things or manufacturing solutions — then outsourcing testing is not always possible or advisable. The external team may not have the required expertise to test one-of-a-kind solutions, and having them learn the ropes may take more time than you are willing to spend. Moreover, outsourced teams usually operate offshore, which means they may not be available for in-person testing jobs.

Developing compliant software

An increasing number of software solutions are now required to be compliant with industry regulations. This includes HIPAA compliance for healthcare products, GDPR for a wide range of software, and so on. Compliance testing is reflected in all the latest testing techniques and best practices. However, it’s not always easy to find a testing partner who is actually familiar with different types of compliance and how to test software for them. You can either entrust the job to the internal team or specifically look for a vendor with experience in compliance testing.

Intellectual property or security concerns

In case your testing process involves sensitive data or intellectual property that needs to be protected, working with an outsourced department sometimes makes it harder to manage the security of the project. Since you’ll need to provide different access levels to different groups of team members, retaining full control over the security process can become a hassle. It is still possible to outsource testing of software containing sensitive data, but you need to properly assess the risks, appoint a person who will deal with access levels, and have your vendor sign all applicable NDAs.

Testing as a core competency

When software testing is a core competency of your business and something both the organization and its clients rely upon, it’s best to think twice before outsourcing some or all of the QA needs to an external vendor. In this situation, hiring, training, and growing the in-house team allows you to enjoy more consistent results, plan your resources better, and eventually achieve the quality of testing you aim for, even if it means higher initial investments.

Close collaboration between departments

Many software testing projects heavily rely on smooth communication and continuous collaboration between different teams and departments. The most common case is when the testing and the development teams work together to immediately resolve the discovered bugs and test software again to see if new bugs have appeared. To achieve this level of teamwork, it’s important for both teams to have at least some overlapping hours, similar communication styles, and no language barriers. This is possible to make happen with outsourcing, but it’s going to take more effort compared to when all of your operations are run in-house.

2 - QA Outsourcing

Advantages and drawbacks of outsourcing quality assurance

As popular as software testing outsourcing is right now, not all companies have had the chance to experience it in person. If you are now considering outsourcing some or all of your testing needs to an external vendor, these are the pros and cons of outsourcing QA to think about.


  • Lower cost of testing. This is one of the most frequently mentioned advantages of outsourcing, and it’s easy to see why: with foreign QA teams offering significantly lower rates than in-house specialists, and with no overhead costs, the testing project becomes far less expensive to build and maintain.
  • Access to a wider talent pool. With the help of an outsourcing partner, you can quickly assemble a team with the required expertise and remove the knowledge gaps in your existing operations. With in-house hiring, filling the positions can take months, and some niche specialists are downright impossible to hire in-house because they are both rare and in demand.
  • Faster time to market. An outsourced team can begin working as early as the developing process starts, giving you real-time updates on the state of the software, allowing you to fix bugs faster, and ultimately achieve a shorter release schedule because you don’t have to wait until testing is completed.
  • Flexibility and ability to scale. One of the key benefits of outsourcing is the absolute flexibility you get when assembling the team and managing your testing project. You call the shots about the size and composition of the team, scope and duration of the project, and can pause and unpause the work whenever you like. Moreover, you can easily scale the project by adding new team members or downsize the team if you want to cut your expenses.
  • Easier management. If you plan a small to medium testing project, there may not be enough time and resources for effectively managing an in-house team. This can lead to gaps in testing and the project taking longer than anticipated. An outsourcing vendor, on the other hand, can provide management services to make things easier for you.


  • Variable quality. The quality of testing you’re getting from outsourcing primarily depends on the vendor. When the vendor is missing the required competencies, or when they don’t treat the work with enough diligence, the results can turn out to be disappointing. This is why it’s vital to choose your outsourcing partner carefully.
  • Language and time differences. Western companies usually outsource testing to foreign partners, which means they often need to work with team members who are located in a different time zone and know English as their second or third language. The good news is that most outsourcing companies, at least in Europe, employ English-speaking testers and can adjust their working schedule to overlap with yours, at least partially.
  • Difficulty fostering team culture. In an ideal scenario, the team of employees involved in the same project is bounded not only by the work, but also by the more informal interpersonal connections. And those are difficult to build and maintain when half of the team works remotely. Having informal online meetings helps, but it takes a considerate and mindful team lead to foster a genuine connection between all team members.

Typical composition of an outsourced QA team: QA engineer and other roles

3 - QA Outsourcing (1)

The composition of an outsourced testing team is never fixed and can change depending on the size and complexity of the project, specific requirements, the composition of the in-house team, and so on. Moreover, the composition can change throughout the project — for example, to maximize the testing efforts during a certain development stage or to perform niche types of testing, such as security or penetration testing. Still, some roles have a place on most QA projects. These are the roles you will typically find on an outsourced QA project.

  1. QA Engineer. This is a principal role on any testing project, as QA Engineers are the ones doing the day-to-day work of checking the software for bugs and verifying its correct performance in different environments.
  2. Test Lead. A Test Lead, sometimes called a Testing Manager, is a senior member of the QA team whose job is to create the testing plan and strategy, oversee the project, and correct it in case the results don’t align with the project goals.
  3. Automation QA. Automated testing is now used on more and more QA projects, and an Automation QA will identify areas that can be automated, choose the most appropriate automation tools, and automate the necessary tests.
  4. Domain Expert. When working with software for a highly specific industry, such as telemedicine or fintech products, having a Domain Expert as a member of the team helps focus on the most important tasks and make sure nothing is missed.
  5. Test Environment Manager. The environment, which may include software, hardware, network, and other parameters, is essential for proper test management, and a Test Environment Manager takes care of all infrastructure matters.
  6. Test Documentation Specialist. When working with an external QA department, documentation becomes the backbone of the project that gives you the complete idea of where it is and helps quickly introduce new team members to the process. A Test Documentation Specialist is responsible for creating, maintaining, and transferring all relevant documentation.
  7. Test Coordinator. This role is usually reserved for large testing projects with many participants, who often work from different locations. A Test Coordinator helps all departments and stakeholders communicate effectively and reach project goals.

How to choose a software QA outsourcing partner

The choice of a company that will provide testing services to your organization is one of the most important choices you can make when outsourcing QA testing. A well-chosen testing firm will allow you to experience all the benefits of outsourcing, while a wrong choice of an outsourcing partner can lead to missed deadlines, a drop in software quality, and disruptions in the STLC. Here are the key factors to help you find the best QA outsourcing partner for your needs.

1. Range of services

Whether you want to entrust your entire testing process to an outside team or you plan to outsource only some aspects of quality assurance, the first thing to do is to make sure that the vendor you’re considering provides the services you require. For example, exploratory testing and functional testing are two services you can get from most vendors, while specialized security testing or hardware testing may be harder to find.

2. Experience and expertise

Before entrusting QA processes to an external team, you need to make sure that these are experienced QA engineers and other specialists who are prepared to tackle all testing challenges. Evaluate the company’s expertise by checking the industries they work with, solutions they test, and manual testing and automation testing tools and techniques they apply in their work. You can look for the company’s case studies and past projects, where its best work is highlighted. You should also inquire whether the vendor has the infrastructure needed for specific parts of QA: for example, physical devices for mobile testing.

3. Testimonials and reputation

You can usually find out a lot about tech companies from their websites and social media, but some things can only be experienced and then shared by former and current customers. This is why it’s important to look for their testimonials, both on the company’s own website and on third-party services. These reviews will tell you not only about the company’s reputation, but also about its most common services and types of projects it handles most often.

4. Skills of team members

Whether you’re building an external testing team from scratch or you’re just adding a few test engineers to your in-house operation, you should look at the skills and competencies of each individual team member. This can include checking their job history, experience with particular industries or product types, specialized skills, certifications, and so on. Such information will help you build a higher-quality team where everyone has the specific expertise you’re looking for.

5. Cost and value for the money

Given that the ability to save money on testing is one of the main reasons why companies invest in QA outsourcing, the aspect of cost is more important than ever. It’s always a good idea to research and compare the rates offered by different outsourcing companies. However, you should also find out what’s included in the price. For example, some companies charge for everything separately, while others set prices that already include various overhead and infrastructure costs. In the latter case, you are getting more value for your money.

6. Flexibility and scalability

One of the biggest benefits of QA outsourcing is the flexibility that comes with it: the best companies don’t force you to accept strict and unfavorable contract terms. Instead, they give you plenty of room when it comes to the size, duration, and direction of the project, with even more room for changing it along the way. For example, at TestFort, we don’t just use a single cooperation model throughout the entire project, but can use different models for different stages, allowing the customer to reap more benefits resource-wise.

7. Cultural compatibility

When your outsourced and internal team work separately from each other and may never share a room throughout the project, the aspect of cultural fit is more crucial than one may think. Primarily, the external team needs to share your company’s mission, goals, and values. You should also make sure that the outsourced department understands and supports your communication style, so that communication issues don’t create tension on the project, leading to underwhelming results.

Top countries for outsourcing QA testing and their rates

QA Outsourcing

The ability to cut costs is one of the main reasons why software quality assurance outsourcing is such an attractive prospect to companies all over the world. Right now, it is possible to outsource quality assurance to pretty much any region on the planet. Still, some outsourcing destinations are more appealing than others, and it’s not just because of their competitive rates, but also because of their other advantages. These are the top three destinations for software QA outsourcing and how much their QA services cost per hour.


Asia has been traditionally popular among Western companies looking to cut costs on everyday services. There are now many tech hubs in India, China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries, providing services to foreign partners at reasonable rates. These countries have a decent level of technical skill and an understanding of Western business practices. The downside of working with outsourcing partners in Asia is the frequently experienced language barrier and the different time zones. On average, Asian outsourced testers will cost you $18-$30 per hour.

Latin America

Latin America emerged on the international outsourcing scene later than its main competitors, but it is rapidly catching up in terms of popularity. The biggest testing outsourcing locations in Latin America include Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. The Latin American outsourcing market shares many of its drawbacks with Asia: when working with a test team from this region, you can eventually experience challenges like a language barrier, different communication styles, and time zone differences. Moreover, outsourcing testing to Latin America is not the cheapest option: most testers here charge $30-$50 per hour.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe may be the most sought-after destination for outsourced software QA, and for good reason. The number of high-class technical specialists in this region grows by the year. Nearly all testers there have a good grasp of English and robust experience with projects from different industries and for different solution types, in addition to their strong technical background. Outsourcing companies from Ukraine, Poland, and Hungary can solve all of your quality-related challenges at a reasonable rate of $20-$40 per hour.


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Risks of outsourced QA testing and how to mitigate them

With careful planning and mindful vendor selection, outsourcing quality assurance can be fully expected to deliver the anticipated results. However, like any significant endeavor, quality assurance outsourcing has its own range of risks. These are the biggest risks of software QA outsourcing and how to resolve them.

1. Additional costs

A relatively common issue on outsourcing projects is when the final cost of the project is higher than was originally discussed. This can happen for a myriad of reasons, from the work taking longer than anticipated or the team having to work overtime to reach the project goals to extra infrastructure fees not specified in the contract. You can mitigate this risk by putting all cost-related agreements in writing or using a variation of the fixed price model to plan your spending from the get-go.

2. Communication issues

Successful projects thrive on good communication. Unfortunately, this is not always possible with outsourcing. Some of the most common issues preventing project members from communicating on the desired level are language barrier, time zone differences, and cultural differences. The communication risk can be mitigated by a proper selection of an outsourcing partner — you need to make sure that the team possesses a decent level of English, can adhere to your proposed communication schedule, and is a good fit culturally for the rest of the team.

3. Management problems

Your goals for outsourcing testing can be different, from entrusting the most time-consuming tasks to an external team and giving your internal team time to focus on other important matters to seeking specific expertise with niche solutions and technologies. However, those goals need to be communicated clearly from the start. Otherwise, there is a risk of the outsourcing partner getting free rein regarding the scope of the project and daily tasks. If you want to retain full control over the project, you need to communicate your plans and needs clearly to the outsourcing vendor.

4. Security issues

When entrusting someone to test your software, you will typically need to let the vendor work with sensitive parts of the application and sensitive data as well. In some cases, this leads to various security threats that can be created by the vendor, both knowingly and unknowingly. A way to mitigate this is to first carefully vet the service provider and sign all relevant paperwork, including NDAs, and then plan a robust access system that keeps unauthorized personnel from getting into restricted areas.

5. Vendor dependence

When working with the same vendor for an extended period of time, companies often become overly reliant on their tech partners. In rare cases when the vendor becomes unavailable — for example, during organizational changes or due to the business shifting to another domain — the company may find its QA operations significantly damaged. Moreover, employing the same service provider for years often stalls innovation. However, a well-chosen, responsible vendor will cooperate with you to foster the culture of innovation across the external team and take appropriate measures to mitigate the risks in case they are no longer able to service your company.

How to prepare your internal team for outsourced software QA

With medium and large companies working with a major software product or several products at once, it’s a common practice to both have an in-house QA department and to outsource parts of the testing process to a trusted QA vendor. This cooperation allows you to experience all the advantages of outsourcing while having an internal team to fall back on if something doesn’t go as planned.

However, your in-house team may be unprepared to work with a software QA outsourcing team. Here is how to make sure your internal team is fully ready for the upcoming cooperation:

  1. Assign proper roles. Ideally, the internal and external team of testers need to work like a well-oiled machine throughout the entire collaboration process, and that is only possible when everyone knows their role, their scope of tasks, and who to contact in case various questions or issues arise.
  2. Put the right person in charge. Managing just one internal team for a prolonged period of time is a challenge on its own, and adding an outsourced team to the mix requires a senior-level manager to handle everything from the big picture and project goals to the daily tasks and performance evaluation.
  3. Adjust your workflows. By the time the outsourced team begins working on the project, they must already have everything they need to deliver the best quality of work without any delays. This includes shared project infrastructure, access to the company’s software, tools and bug reporting solutions used on the project, and more.
  4. Set up an informal introductory session. Good communication is a key element of successful long-term projects, but fostering open communication can be difficult when the teams work from different locations and, often, during different time zones. This is why it’s important that everyone gets to know the rest of the team before the start of the project. It’s also a good idea to make those informal sessions regular, so that communication strengthens and evolves with every testing phase.

How to make the most of your outsourced QA team

Without a doubt, the practice of QA outsourcing helps create high-quality software with fewer resources used. However, not all outsourced software QA projects work flawlessly from the get-go. In addition to preparing your in-house team for the upcoming collaboration, here is what else you can do to benefit from this experience the most:

  1. Put everything in writing. In quality testing outsourcing, there is no place for verbal agreements, and everything should be put into the contract or discussed and unambiguously recorded otherwise.
  2. Conduct one-on-one interviews. As the project manager, QA team lead, or another person in charge of the whole operation, you should consider getting to know your future team members as one of your first priorities.
  3. Set a communication schedule. Even if you plan on your outsourcing team to work mostly independently from the internal team, it’s still vital to regularly sync up and evaluate what has been done already and what needs to be done further down the road. You should not only choose a schedule but also select the communication channels and account for the time difference.
  4. Design an evaluation plan. This is particularly useful for long-term projects where the outsourcing team is involved in extensive testing over an extended period of time. During this time, it’s important to see how the team’s work aligns with your project goals and whether every team member lives up to their potential.
  5. Create plans for everything that may happen. For example, both teams need to have a clear action plan when the project undergoes major changes, when the deadline is moved, when the composition of the team changes, etc.

Final thoughts

Outsourced software QA has been rapidly getting more popular among companies that want to cut the cost of testing while still enjoying the benefits of timely and all-encompassing quality assurance. With very few exceptions, outsourcing QA can be a great fit for every software development and testing project, as a successful outsourcing project is all about the proper selection of a vendor, smart management, and the ability to create realistic plans and timeframes. Hopefully, our guide has given you just enough information and practical tips to tackle outsourced QA testing with confidence.

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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