By Dan Berthiaume
Latin America may not be the first region that comes to most people’s minds when they think of software testing, but Nearshore software development service providers are starting to offer a more sophisticated level of testing services. Cliff Schertz, CEO of Tiempo, a provider of software development and BPO services to US companies with development centers in Mexico, compares the maturity level of the testing market in Mexico to that of a “teenager.”
“Mexico’s software testing market is more mature than that in some developing areas like Vietnam, but is not on par with that in the more mature software development markets,” said Schertz. “For a lot of countries, the first initiative is to develop core software engineering talent. Behind that, they realize there is a big gap in testing capabilities.”
Schertz cautioned that software companies looking to outsource testing need to focus on providers who are also involved in broader software development activities. “If you’re just focused on (providers of) software testing, you won’t find mature resource capability,” he said, adding that in Mexico IT service providers are still building mature software development capabilities.
The Impact of Agile
According to Schertz, a general movement away from “waterfall” software development, where testing is performed separately from core development activities, and toward “agile” developemt, where testing and development resources are integrated into same team, bodes well for Nearshore testing providers.
“Testing while developing changes the necessary skillsets and how you go about testing,” said Schertz. “It highlights why the Nearshore model provides an advantage being close by. Proximity offers advantages not just in terms of time zone, but in traveling back and forth, since agile development often requires user involvement.”
As a result, Schertz said some US companies who outsource software development according to the waterfall method will send their core development activities to an overseas provider but send the testing to a Nearshore provider.
Schertz said one popular agile development method is known as “scrum,” with the name taken from the rugby term for the mass of players who huddles around the ball when the game needs to be restarted. “All the skillsets needed are at once huddled together, and you move the ball downfield in short bursts,” he said. “You turn the skillsets into self-organized and managed teams. According to Schertz, Tiempo has a standard two-week “sprint” development process where every two weeks the company delivers something to the client, including development and testing services.
Government, University Support Should Improve
Historically, Schertz said one obstacle to the development of a mature software testing market in Mexico has been the lack of support from the government and higher education in providing the proper training. However, he said this situation has been changing and should continue to improve in the future.
“The government and universities will continue to focus on capacity,” he said. “It’s an effort to turn raw material into trained technology talent. But if you look back, there were no programs in the universities, now there is more educational effort and a specialized curriculum. The improving base knowledge of testing will move more work into the region.”