Q
Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Which testing service provider should I choose?

This expert answer offers tips on choosing a testing service and then reviews three options for companies to consider.

Companies that provide testing services are growing in number and complexity. Most offer testing services per tester...

or by team. In other words, if a business needs temporary help with beta or certification testing, it can hire experienced testers. Nearly all testing service providers offer flexible pricing structures that allow businesses to pay specifically for what they use and define as a testing effort.

In addition, many services offer options on how the test team or testers are managed, either by the business itself or by the service provider. As a professional tester, it's been my experience that some models offer a better-quality experience than others, both for the tester and the business. Make sure the service you use has high-quality testers.

Below is a small sampling of the growing number of available testing services. Before selecting a testing service, create a plan for the specific business needs. Determine the budget and whether or not the business wants to self-manage the tester(s) or rely on the service provider to do that. It's advisable to compare the cost of a testing service to the cost of contract testers and the cost of a small in-house team. Getting the highest value from the testing decision is important, so plan the approach that best suits the business need for price, ease of use and quality results.

Bugwolf

Bugwolf, a relative newcomer to the testing service space, is managed from Australia. Bugwolf offers a unique cloud testing environment so testers don't have to spend large amounts of time downloading different tools and managing the possible results on their personal devices. It's a huge advantage for testers. The cloud-based testing environment offers both its testers and business partners a secure platform to work with. For the business partner, the test environment is highly configurable. Additionally, Bugwolf takes intellectual property rules seriously and keeps new products and software confidential.

Bugwolf hires what it calls vetted, elite beta testers. The company screens its testers for the extent of their experience and performs personal interviews and background checks. If a customer desires, it can source its own testers internally and use the cloud test environment.

A unique aspect of Bugwolf is that it provides testing in a competitive, gamified environment. Competition and gamification keep testers involved and engaged for better results. Bugwolf focuses on beta-level testing and offers a wide variety of pricing options.

Applause

Applause, formerly known as uTest, offers a wide variety of testing options from any number of global locations. Testers are remote and located around the world. Testing teams are managed by test leads and project managers who provide instruction and support for working testers. Applause offers testers additional training and a common place to communicate with each other regardless of location. Teams can be formed quickly because the database of testers is large, remote and global.

Applause focuses on predominantly mobile beta testing but can also provide desktop and Web application testing. A wide variety of pricing plans are available. Beware of the quality of the testing because, based on experience, testers are paid less than the U.S. minimum wage in most cases. When choosing Applause, verify the experience level the testers have and the quality of the bugs and testing performed.

Saturn Systems

Saturn Systems, a unique alternative, is U.S.-based and provides what the company calls a rural outsourcing model. Saturn offers both development and testing. For U.S.-based companies that don't need to verify an application's performance globally, Saturn may be more cost effective. Saturn claims to truly believe in testing, and that caught this writer's attention. The website states Saturn's understanding that testers are not robots and that they need to be creative and inquisitive in order to find defects buried below the surface.

Saturn's testing services include comprehensive test plans and highly experienced testing staff. Additionally, if accessibility is important to the customer, being U.S.-based allows easier and more timely communication within normal business hours.

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This was last published in January 2015

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You should add Centercode to this list! They have lots of beta testing resources, and you can sign up for various beta testing opportunities on their website, betabound.com. Personally, I have helped test GoPro cameras, and had a really enjoyable experience with their beta managers. It's a great resource you should check out. :)
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How about not outsourcing the most important part of your software infrastructure for a company who's goal will be to make money off you for Testing Software?  Look I know it seems like it might be easier to outsource, but the further removed your testers get from the devs the more barrier to understanding what is being built, who the ultimate customer is, and get feedback faster.

That having been said, I do see possible value in groups like uTest for the specific example of trying to get a good feel for a software before a larger public release.  (For example with so many mobile devices and vendors).  If its used as an enhancement to existing testing, then I can see possible value there, but buyer be ware if you think it replaces your in house test teams.
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