Freelance Testers - a smarter, cost effective way for startups

ITnews had an article recently on startups. It examines what to look for in a startup, and also how to minimise the risks. Here's an excerpt: 'A startup's immaturity will be reflected in the quality and capabilities of its product. As you would when considering an established vendor, a CIO must conduct technical due diligence....You can minimize these risks in several ways. First, do extensive pilot testing, and start with a small deployment'

A good freelance software tester can provide real benefit to startups by verifying and/or validating software at a reasonable price. This builds confidence in a product and is useful for promotional purposes. Its also useful to demonstrate third party verification of technical claims when seeking additional funding. This is how a freelance software tester can reduce cost yet still provide a quality service.

Freelance software testers are 'on-demand'

The nature of software testing demands flexibility as the testing effort often fluctuates throughout a software development life cycle.

At the beginning of an SDLC, test planning, scheduling and scoping of tests takes place. It can be a very busy time for testers, scoping out whats to be tested, prioritising tests, planning and creating test cases, organising the test environment, the list can go on..

However, there's often a lull after the initial frantic test planning. This is where all test cases are written, the test environments is ready, and testing is ready to start. The trouble is, often the software to be tested is not.

Even when the software testing starts, it can be a start, stop, start affair as major problems are found and require fixing. These are not necessarily related to code, but can be in installation, configuration etc. A tester isn't always needed but should be on call for when testing does begin.

It goes without saying that a software tester is available during the test execution phase, and perhaps due to time demands, needs to test beyond normal work hours.

A freelance software tester works only when its needed, this is a big saving in cost. This way you can still afford a quality software tester at a lesser price.

Freelance software testers listen to the customer

A good freelance tester, will be a good listener. By understanding the demands on a business, a freelance software tester is able to adapt the testing to meet the needs. This can be a great cost saving, as needs are met first and foremost. See my post on http://www.blog.testingtimes.com.au/?p=25 for the types of questions a freelance software tester should ask.

Freelance software testers are flexible in approach

A good freelance software tester understands the three key demands placed on any software project, namely, cost, time and quality. They have the liberty to be flexible in approach to testing in order to balance quality against its natural enemies; time and cost. If time is an issue, a freelance tester is able to prioritise the testing to ensure key functionality is tested. Budgets can be effectively managed by using 'on-demand' testing and fast-tracking planning where possible.

Freelance software testers need to you succeed

Like any other freelancer, reputation is paramount. A freelance software tester's reputation is built on getting excellent customer referrals. They don't rely on big marketing budgets or a platoon of sales people for their next job. They need their client to succeed and be profitable. That way, not only does word spread, but they get repeat business. It's in our interest to ensure that you have the best quality product to sell.

Of course many of the attributes I have described in this article can be found in software testers everywhere. However, a freelancer has the added advantage of passing these cost savings on directly to the client, without the commitment of long term contracts.

The full ITnews article can be found at http://www.itnews.com.au/News/59326,opinion-startup-fundamentals.aspx

Anne-Marie Charrett runs a software testing company that specialises in testing software for high-tech companies and startups.