India: The Destination of Choice for Software Testing

A NASSCOM report released in 2013 estimates that the global outsourcing market for software testing will reach USD 50 billion in the year 2020. This report also estimates that India will account for around USD 15 Billion of the USD 50 Billion, making the country the largest beneficiary of the growth. All this augurs well for the outsourced testing services market space in India.

The testing landscape in India predictably includes technology behemoths like Accenture, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions, IBM and Infosys. However, as testament to the size and scope of the industry in India today, there are also innumerable small and medium size firms making a play for their share of the pie. From small start-ups to mid-size companies with 500-1000 employees and a presence in various countries, Indian firms have become a ubiquitous part of the software testing space over the last decade and a half.

The Changing Landscape

The landscape is in the throes of change currently. No longer is testing done in silos, or seen as an independent process that was done before a piece of software was released, because it was required. Today, testing has becoming integral, a requirement at every step not just post the development of a software  product. Its value and need are a given and the responsibility of the testing agency has increased. Says Srivatsan Tiruvallur Thattai, V.P. and Head of Solutions for Maveric Systems, a well-established name in the testing space: There has been a complete refining of quality. Five years ago, it rested with the testing team, whereas today, everyone is a co-located owner. The mantra in every organization now is efficiency, and this philosophy extends to the testing space as well – time is an important factor, alongside quality and cost, feels Thattai. He points to increased spend, especially in technology for testing and says that investment in the tools for testing are higher than ever before.

Test Faster, Test Smarter

T. Ashok, Founder & CEO Bangalore based Stag Software, agrees that agile methodologies and a greater focus on automation have been in play over the last few years in an effort to boost quality. Today, he says, the focus and the need is for smarter testing, improving effectiveness, reducing maintenance costs and doing more with less. He points out that rather than domain knowledge, the more urgent need is for a test perspective and building smarter testing frameworks. There has been increasing interest in smarter testing and use of smarter methodology, especially over the last year, says Ashok, pointing out that until five years ago there was a process focus, which then moved to automation, which was seen as an end-all for boosting quality. This is a period of transition, from the old style to new style interface. There is pressure on product companies to optimize, says Ashok, and with that comes a need to focus on improvement and being aware of the application framework, and factoring in all the possibilities of what could go wrong, when testing.

Crowdsourced Testing Loop

The other key trend to watch is driving testing out of the labs and into the realm of users/consumers. Today there really is an app for everything and a consumer for most of them. Thanks to cheap handsets and call rates, the average Indian has embraced mobility. The sheer number of mobile subscribers and the demographics of this age group – largely 30 and under – means that companies are getting access to huge volumes of user experience data. Crowdsourced testing is becoming a reality in India, and this young population is becoming a testing generation, with social media and blogs providing instant feedback to companies. The recent iPhone 6 incident is a shining example of this, where users took to social media to highlight the phone’s unintentionally bendy design, a design flaw that did not come to light before release.

Can we seize the day?

With its educated and able workforce, India has been a forerunner in the testing space and as an outsourcing partner and global supplier for firms worldwide, global trends are applicable here, more than anywhere else. Specialization is the name of the game now – thanks to the advent and spread of new technologies, in particular SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud).  Thattai says India has progressed with the SMAC drive, and with testing on cloud and virtualization already in play, he underscores that opportunities abound. He cautions though, that India still doesn’t have the required skills-set or significant ability to evaluate since there are no standardized tool sets in with tools, and that testers trained in old school black box testing may not be able to match up to the needs of the current testing scenario. A demand versus supply problem exists, he says.

Expertize and Understanding as the Key to Transformation

Experts agree that domain experience and understanding are the way forward. Broad, composite skills and certifications are expected of the new breed of testers, as is a degree of specialization. Priorities are shifting to the shortening of release cycles and domain understanding is a must – the focus on process is much less than it used to be, says Thattai. Just as  testing was a subject for campus recruits a decade ago, over the next few years, expectations from prospective employees will be understanding and know-how of the new trends, he points out. Skills and knowledge in governance, risk compliance and cloud and mobile, alongside quality assurance, are expected to be in focus.

A paradigm shift has occurred in the way clients perceive their testing providers – the expectation is that the testing vendor should work as a partner and be part of the larger picture. Thattai points out  that testing has gone from being a cost center to a value center, with  clients demanding the services of  test architects and experts; the mentality has changed – testers and testing as a skill is valued now, testing is a science; the earlier view that anyone can test has gone. Alliances and partnerships are becoming important as well and Thattai sees a shift towards transformative partnerships, with companies wanting a vendor who can partner with them in their IT transformation journeys and be there for the long haul, rather than just doing everything in-house. It’s no longer a question of captive versus outsourced testing, he feels. Captives themselves are outsourcing testing, leveraging the latest skills and technology through partnerships.

So, where is the software testing industry headed? Over the last couple of years, the investments and availability of equipment for testing have peaked and now, there are even courses being offered on testing, and having certifications for specific testing skills will soon be expected. A crop of QA services businesses have also sprung up. Testing for mobiles has also become a significant business opportunity in India. All these factors will contribute to India’s predicted large share in the USD 50 Billion pie.

No ‘testing’ times ahead then for the players in this segment of the software business!

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