Crowdsourced Testing: Pros, Cons, Challenges and Alternatives
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Crowdsourced Testing Vs Outsourced Testing: The Difference and What to Choose

14 min read


How dangerous can bugs be? One day a small bug in the Uber application provoked a life drama and a $48 million loss for the company. The app continued popping up notifications even when the application was logged out. Sounds insignificant? Not for one French businessman who was cheating on his wife! Notifications about his routes were sent to his wife’s phone, which he had used to call an Uber the day before. He thought he had logged out of the app on her phone, but alas, the glitch in the app prevented him from completely logging out. The glitch that affected only iPhones is fixed already, but it was impossible to fix the Frenchman’s marriage.

That’s the price of neglecting quality assurance that can cost you a lot. Seeking maximum test case coverage, entrepreneurs might fall for exotic techniques like crowdsourced testing as one of the ways to improve product quality for a fraction of the price. But, does it really work better than a professional QA team? In this article, we’ll talk about the difference between crowdsourced testing and in-house testing teams, and elaborate on the point when crowd testing can be beneficial while highlighting the strength of experienced QA professionals for software development projects.

What is Crowdsourced Testing: The Basics 

Crowdsourced testing is a software evaluation approach that leverages a diverse group of testers, often referred to as the “crowd”, to assess digital products. These testers come from various backgrounds, and locations, and with various devices, offering a wide array of perspectives. 

The process begins by outlining the testing objectives, criteria, and scope, and requires specialized platforms to engage the crowd. Following predetermined test cases and scenarios, crowd testers give feedback on different product aspects like functionality, usability, performance, and compatibility. We can say that this crowd-testing approach replicates real-world usage conditions, providing unique insights that conventional testing methods might miss. At the same time, we need to remember that the qualifications of crowd testers can be different, which can significantly influence the results. 

When we choose outsourced testing, this model involves engaging external resources to fulfill  the company’s requirements. The company delegates the management of certain business processes the quality assurance testing in this case to another specialized company. These processes are executed through formal agreements between the involved companies. In other words, an outsourcing company provides its workforce temporarily to other companies. 

Although outsourced testing eliminates the necessity for a customer to recruit, onboard, and train in-house specialists or ensure the availability of required tools and infrastructure, it’s usually better suited for business needs. At MobiDev, we don’t offer QA as a service, but provide QA services as a part of the development process for our clients, considering outsourced testing as the best strategy for most organizations, as entrusting your testing processes to professionals enables a quicker product launch, and expedites your return on investment.

The Benefits and Challenges of Crowdsourced Testing 

Crowdsourced testing boasts various advantages: scalability, cost-effectiveness, access to a vast array of devices and platforms, and accelerated testing due to parallel execution. Furthermore, the crowd’s diversity ensures an extensive selection of perspectives, enhancing the product’s refinement and user focus. 

Benefits of Crowdsourced Testing 

Here are some benefits of crowdsourced testing:

  • Diverse Testing Ecosystem

Crowdsourced testing provides access to a vast and diverse pool of testers from various backgrounds, regions, and with various devices. This helps in identifying issues that may not be apparent to a limited in-house testing team.

  • Scalability

Crowdsourcing allows for the rapid scaling of testing efforts. With a large number of testers available, organizations can conduct testing on a broader scale and within shorter timelines.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Leveraging a crowd of testers can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house testing team or engaging with a traditional outsourcing company. Crowdsourced testing typically follows a pay-per-bug model or a fixed-cost structure.

  • Access to a Wide Array of Devices and Platforms

The crowd comprises individuals using diverse devices, operating systems, browsers, and network conditions. This allows for comprehensive testing across various platforms, ensuring the product’s compatibility and functionality in different environments.

  • Faster Turnaround Time

Parallel testing by multiple testers accelerates the testing process, leading to faster identification and reporting of bugs. This quick feedback loop enables development teams to promptly address issues, reducing the overall time-to-market.

  • Real-World User Insights

Crowdsourced testing mirrors real-world usage scenarios, providing valuable insights into how users interact with the software. Testers, resembling end-users, can uncover usability issues and suggest improvements to enhance the overall user experience.

  • Geographic and Cultural Relevance

The geographic diversity of the crowd helps in evaluating the product’s relevance and functionality across different cultures, languages, and regions. This is particularly beneficial for global products with a diverse user base.

  • Flexibility and Agility

Crowdsourced testing allows for flexibility in adjusting the testing team size and focus based on project needs. 

  • Objective Feedback

Testers in the crowd provide unbiased, independent feedback, enhancing the objectivity of the testing process. This feedback is crucial for identifying potential issues and improving the product’s quality.

  • Innovation and Creativity

A diverse crowd can bring innovative ideas and creative approaches to testing,  uncovering unconventional issues or suggesting unique testing scenarios that might be missed by a conventional testing team.

However, despite the obvious benefits, crowdsourced testing comes with critical challenges and considerations that demand thorough exploration. Maintaining quality control and ensuring consistently high standards across diverse testers is quite challenging. Additionally, the secure handling of sensitive or confidential data is a crucial concern.  

Challenges of Crowdsourced Testing 

The key challenges of crowdsourced testing are presented in the table below. 

  • Quality Control and Consistency

Maintaining consistent testing quality across a diverse group of testers with varying skill levels and approaches can be challenging. The qualification of the crowd testers remains unknown, which may lead to uneven coverage of test cases throughout the app. Ensuring that the testers follow predefined guidelines and execute test cases accurately is crucial for good results.

  • Security and Data Privacy

Crowdsourced testing may involve exposing the software to external testers, raising concerns about data security and privacy. Safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations is a significant challenge.

  • Communication and Collaboration

Coordinating communication and collaboration among a dispersed group of testers from different time zones, cultures, and languages can be complex. Effective communication strategies and tools are essential to streamline the testing process.

  • Test Case Relevance and Completeness

Verifying the relevance and completeness of the test cases provided to the testers is a challenge. Ensuring that the test cases cover all critical aspects of the software and align with the testing objectives requires careful planning and oversight. 

  • Bug Triage and Prioritization

Managing a potentially large volume of bug reports from diverse testers can be overwhelming. Efficiently triaging and prioritizing reported issues based on severity, impact, and user experience is essential for effective bug resolution.

  • Tester Reliability and Motivation

The reliability of testers is a concern. Some testers might rush through tests, affecting the accuracy and thoroughness of the results. Maintaining tester motivation and engagement over time can also be challenging, impacting the quality of testing.

  • Contextual Understanding

Testers from different regions or cultures may have varying levels of understanding about the product’s context, target audience, or intended usage. Bridging this gap and ensuring that testers evaluate the product with the right perspective is a challenge.

  • Bias and Subjectivity

Testers may bring their biases and subjective opinions to the testing process, potentially influencing the reported issues. Addressing this subjectivity to maintain an objective testing approach is important for accurate results.

  • Response Time and Turnaround

Coordinating a rapid response from a globally distributed crowd can be challenging, especially in urgent testing scenarios. Achieving a quick turnaround in bug reporting and feedback is crucial for timely bug fixes.

  • Legal and Compliance Issues

Compliance with legal requirements, contracts, and intellectual property rights can pose challenges when engaging a diverse group of testers from various jurisdictions. Ensuring legal compliance and addressing any related issues is vital.

Overall, crowdsourced testing might seem unreliable and risky for some companies, that’s why we leverage professional testing for our clients’ projects. With the best QA practices and strategies, we are able to ensure safety and prevent breakdowns in the development process.

The Benefits and Challenges of Outsourced Testing 

As we already know, adopting a strong quality assurance strategy, and comprehensive end-to-end testing procedures are essential components of the software development process. Instead of assigning internal resources to deal with these tasks, businesses have the option to outsource them, ensuring timely delivery and accelerating a successful product launch.

Benefits of Outsourced Testing 

Like crowdsourced testing, outsourced testing has its advantages and disadvantages. 

  • Access to Industry Expertise

Experienced software testers or testing firms possess extensive knowledge of a comprehensive quality assurance approach. Hence, they guarantee that your project aligns with the latest IT best practices and trends, addressing all issues to ensure a bug-free outcome. 

  • Cost Efficiency Compared to In-House Testing

Like crowdsourced testing, outsourcing testing can be cost-effective, as there is no need to spend money on specialized testing infrastructure, tools, and resources. Businesses can save on workforce as well, including salaries, and training expenses for in-house testing teams.

  • Focus on Core Business Goals 

Delegating testing to professionals allows businesses to concentrate on their core business goals, such as product development, innovation, and customer engagement. This strategic focus can lead to improved efficiency and better competitiveness.

  • Implementing a Comprehensive Set of Tests

Outsourcing testing provides a wide array of diverse tests forming a comprehensive test set to assess the performance of your new software product. These include performance testing, localization testing, security testing, exploratory testing, and functional testing. 

Although outsourced software testing is awesome, like all things in this world, it’s not perfect. Here are some of its drawbacks that everyone should consider when outsourcing software testing.

Challenges of Outsourced Testing 

  • Communication Barriers

Misinterpretation and misunderstanding might occur between the in-house team and the outsourcing partner. This also includes the necessity to work in different time zones that potentially can lead to delays in the testing process. 

  • Dependency on Outsourcing Partner’s Expertise

The outsourcing partner may lack a deep understanding of the client’s specific industry or business processes, impacting the quality of testing.

  • Unforeseen Costs

While outsourcing may seem cost-effective, hidden costs such as communication tools, travel, and additional coordination efforts can add up.

  • Limited Knowledge of Business Context:

The outsourcing company you work with may lack a thorough understanding of the client’s business context, making it difficult to balance testing activities with business goals.

Why Crowdsourced Testing May Not Fit Your Project

Outsourced testing and crowdsourced testing are two distinct approaches to software testing. Both have unique characteristics and are suited to different scenarios. So, let’s delve deeper into the differences between outsourced testing and crowdsourced testing. 

The Difference Between Crowdsourced and Outsourced Testing

Overall, a crowdsourced testing approach lies in its ability to tap into a diverse and widespread group of testers, but it still has a range of flaws that can’t be accepted by most companies. Crowdsourced testing can be chaotic and difficult to control, while still requiring qualified people to evaluate the results. 

The main characteristic of outsourced testing is its structured and professional approach. By engaging a specialized third-party organization with dedicated experts, outsourced testing offers a controlled and well-managed environment, ensuring that quality is not compromised. This approach typically includes clearly defined roles, responsibilities, communication channels, tools, and processes. 

Security protocols are stricter, and the entire process can be more easily scaled and managed according to specific project requirements. In addition, the outsourced company often owns the complete testing platform and environment, ensuring consistency and quality throughout the testing lifecycle. This leads to a more reliable and comprehensive evaluation of the product, aligning with established standards and client expectations.

Choosing the Right Testing Approach: What You Need to Know

Crowdsourced testing presents valuable advantages, including diverse testing environments, cost-efficiency, scalability, and flexibility. These benefits contribute to a comprehensive testing process, enabling efficient bug detection, optimal resource utilization, and seamless adaptation to project dynamics. By leveraging crowdsourced testing, organizations can access a global talent pool, save on testing costs, and effectively meet the testing demands of their projects.

Outsourced testing is a strategic choice for complex projects, those with confidentiality concerns, and engagements requiring sustained testing partnerships. It provides access to specialized expertise, ensures data privacy, and fosters long-term efficiency and cost-effectiveness. By carefully considering these factors, organizations can make informed decisions and leverage outsourced testing to enhance the quality and reliability of their software products.

How Crowdsourced and Outsourced Testing Work for Different Examples

Ultimately, the decision to opt for crowdsourced or outsourced testing depends on various factors such as project complexity, data sensitivity, budget constraints, and the need for specialized skills. Both approaches, when strategically chosen and thoughtfully implemented, can significantly contribute to achieving a high-quality, user-centric software product. Whether it’s embracing the diversity of the crowd or leveraging the structured expertise of an outsourced team, making an informed decision aligning with the project’s unique requirements is paramount to successful software testing and product development.

Choose your Winning Testing Strategy with MobiDev

To conclude, crowdsourced testing is all about diversity. It allows for real-world testing conditions, potentially finding unexpected problems and providing insights from a broad range of users and devices. This approach is often more cost-effective and can quickly give feedback. However, it might present challenges in communication, consistency, and data security. Outsourced testing, on the other hand, provides a more controlled, professional environment. With this method, experienced testers follow strict rules and standardized procedures. While this can ensure higher quality, robust communication, and better data security, it may be more expensive and lack the varied insights from different users that crowdsourced testing can offer.

Consulting with MobiDev experts in software development to analyze your specific situation can be an invaluable step in making the right choice for your business. During the software development process at MobiDev, we leverage various tools to perform testing for different software products to offer a top-north user experience for your clients. Whether you need to develop a software project from scratch, think of the further development of existing projects, or require team augmentation, feel free to check our quality assurance services and drop us a line — the MobiDev team will help you achieve success.

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