With a market greater than US$50 billion in India alone, there is no denying the offshoring model works. It helps companies test, develop and bring digital products – like many of the gadgets, apps and technologies we use today – to market in a relatively cost-effective manner. That said, it’s no secret that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused many businesses and entire industries to regroup, reevaluate and find new ways to accomplish tasks that just a few months prior would have been routine. 

Many technology outsourcing companies have felt this impact first-hand. These outsourcing firms were simply not prepared for a pandemic and the ensuing lockdown. And who could blame them? It caught almost every brand and sector off-guard and unprepared. Unlike other industries, though, the pandemic exposed pre-existing cracks in the offshoring model.

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When the pandemic hit, the supply chain broke. Testing and product development facilities built on product teams working collaboratively in close proximity struggled to keep up with the most basic needs of their customers. Outsourcing companies and their employees lacked the infrastructure to work remotely, negatively impacting the business continuity of their clients. 

This new reality leaves companies that are used to the offshoring model for testing and QA with one big question: what is the best way to test software and digital experiences in a post-COVID-19 world?

Crowdtesting: An alternative to the offshoring model
Crowdtesting is when remote, distributed groups of testers from a vetted community are curated to form a testing team. While crowdtesting has been a factor in application and digital testing for over a decade, it has taken on increased importance as internal QA teams can no longer maintain business continuity while working remotely and the offshoring model has faltered amid the pandemic.

The reason the crowdtesting model remains a reliable answer even during COVID-19 is that it is always done remotely, via a community of testers who already work in remote environments. This setup allows testing teams to maintain business continuity, while often improving test coverage across devices, operating systems, geographies, demographics and more. 

While offshoring models simply move testing activities from one office to another, the crowdtesting approach uses a global distributed and fault-tolerant network of testers in an infrastructure ready-built for remote work. The differences between the offshoring and crowdtesting draw comparisons to the management of IT systems. While they used to be managed strictly in-office, co-location facilities soon became the standard, until the cloud came along as a more distributed, flexible, higher-performing and scalable approach.

Also of note, crowdsourced communities of vetted QA testers use their personally owned devices, so there is no issue of sending them laptops or mobile devices in order to maintain business continuity.

It’s likely this increased interest and usage of remote, distributed testing will continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, as more and more businesses embrace remote work as a regular part of the employee experience. Crowdtesting also provides the added benefit of bringing digital experiences and new software releases into the real world, on personally owned devices and in actual user locations. This can help testing teams identify issues that would have gone unnoticed in a traditional lab environment.

This is because traditional QA labs are typically sterile environments with ideal or contrived conditions. While a new mobile app, for example, can be tested on different devices in a QA lab, the testers do not have to account for differing WiFi strengths or older operating systems that are outdated but still used by many end users in the real world. Crowdtesting uses real devices and real people in their daily environments, which accounts for all these variables that are not seen in traditional labs and offshoring facilities, making it a valuable testing approach even after the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown ends.