In January 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, in a speech at the Davos World Economic Forum, said that Britain was about to embark on an initiative to make the country the “Re-Shore Nation.” The view was that with rapidly rising costs in the emerging markets [mostly referring to India and China], services that had been traditionally outsourced to large multi-national consultancies will begin a gradual shift back to being closer to home [near-shore] or based in the UK [on-shore].
Looking at Testing and QA over the past 5 years, it is clear that re-shoring is long overdue. After years of out-sourcing and far shoring to developing countries through large multinational consultancies, testing is a dying art form that has had to adapt to survive. Expensive Test Tool licenses, limited solutions for automated testing, vast teams needed to run the same mundane simple checks every time you perform a change or release – everything was pointing Software Testing towards an offshore model.
But it is coming full circle.
There have been major frustrations from companies using this model of offshore Testing Teams:
- The team are too far removed from the business/users and don’t understand what they are testing;
- There are cultural and/or language barriers that often fail to be overcome;
- There are real challenges with time-zone differences;
- There is little desire to automate testing beyond a certain point;
- There is very little interest in shifting towards Agile and Open Source Tools as – upon the own admission of a Global Engagement Manager at a well-known Indian based IT Consultancy – they have simply not been able to commoditize it;
- They do not look to provide knowledge sharing and transition of knowledge to internal teams – and instead try to embed themselves in as part of an expensive long term solution.
These frustrations, alongside the rising cost of running large offshore teams, has begun the domino effect of many companies shifting their operations back to Europe and the UK with smaller specialized technical teams of permanent employees or using UK based IT consultancies. In order to do this, Testing has begun to adapt to being more technical, introducing more test automation and a new type of Test specialist: the Developer in Test. This has begun to move companies away from the expensive HP Toolsets and more to the innovative open source community who produce tools such as Selenium Webdriver, Cucumber and Appium. The results have shown Testing & QA to be an evolving practice, with more flexible test automation that works on new technologies and is adaptable to your needs. As such, there is now even less of a need to have huge offshore teams and a greater inclination to bring your specialised testing teams closer to the business.
This is not just a trend with testing either. New research from GE Capital and Warwick Business School has found a quarter of mid-market firms in the UK are considering re-shoring some, if not all, of their movable business activities within the next three years. The cumulative effect of this is the projected creation of an extra 126,000 jobs across the UK per annum – equivalent to approximately the total current private sector employment in Newcastle upon Tyne.
So clearly, with the importance of building a robust IT industry in the UK and the growing critical reputation of quality and user experience in mobile and web applications to enhance market position and competitiveness, Software Testing is on a path to renaissance through the next few years.
What do you think? Is this the experience you have found with testing?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Marketing Executive at MagenTys