Testing Services-To Outsource or Not to Outsource…

Testing Services-To Outsource or Not to Outsource…
Susan Taylor, Vice President of Consulting, Testing – March 3, 2015

The question that just about every health plan is asking is “should I outsource my testing and is the cost worth the benefit?” Frankly, it’s complicated and depending upon a plan’s size and structure there are many paths to choose. To begin, dedicate effort to determining the future roadmap for testing within your organization and don’t jump readily to a solution. One size doesn’t fit all and the testing organization needs to address your overall organizational goals holistically for the short, mid, and long term. Better to have an independent consultant provide recommendations than to quickly adopt an off the shelf methodology/product delivered to you via a glossy PowerPoint and a biased vendor. Once you have your strategy in place there are a several options to consider:

Keep it In-House: If a plan has the bandwidth and knowledge to execute on the strategy then they can be perfectly poised to keep testing in house. More often and not it’s a blend of lack of bandwidth, expertise, and cost that motivate clients away from doing some of all or all of their testing. It’s understandable as it’s challenging to keep up with the speed required in the new healthcare landscape. Testing can be a great area to gain efficiencies by leveraging a vendor partner.

Collaborative Testing: If you’re more inclined to a collaborative model, this can be very beneficial as a good vendor will bring strategy and expertise to the table while driving the efforts of a blended team. In an ideal scenario, the vendor will be helping your internal resources to build knowledge on the product/methodology, thereby reducing your dependence on the vendor long term and enabling smooth knowledge transfer. Keeping it close can also ensure that specific internal business knowledge helps drive timely and appropriate test coverage.

Fully Outsourced: This is a fantastic option for plans that really don’t have the in house expertise or bandwidth to support internal testing. One of the major questions is “if I outsource my testing what type of quality can be expected for my dollar spent?” As with most things in life, you typically get what you pay for. I meet with health plans on a daily basis and the most frequent complaint that I hear is how a plan moved to an off shore model and while the rates are cheap, the quality isn’t there. 50% off an hourly rate on a tester isn’t a deal if it takes the guy twice as long. Be wary, and get references (ideally not from the vendor directly) if you plan on taking the fully outsourced off shore route. You should also be prepared to have a very mature SDLC process with the appropriate documentation to share with the vendor to ensure success. Keep in mind that you could be outsourcing an entire function within your company and you have to be ok with that knowledge not residing internally. Next thing to consider is outsourcing just the testing that is frequent and repeatable in order to free up your internal resources to support test efforts requiring in depth business and organization knowledge. This can be a very interesting hybrid approach with the right test partner. You retain control of your more valuable testing efforts and you’re able to rid yourself of some of the less desirable work.

Ultimately there are lot of options to consider when creating your test strategy and how you would like to see it executed and there really is no “one size fits all” solution.