QA outsourcing or in-house testing? How to make the right decision

QA Outsourcing

Outsourcing part of your IT processes is not something new or unusual. Many companies use external contractors to solve their internal tasks, not just for specialized skills but also to supplement their current in-house team. In this article, we would like to show the pros and cons of QA outsourcing, as well as provide a checklist to help you decide which path is best for your organization.

So, let’s get started.

To begin, we would like to break down the main 3 work models that can be applied in a company:

  1. Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company hires another company to be responsible for a planned or existing activity which otherwise is or could be carried out internally.
  2. In-house refers to having a dedicated team within a company to handle the software development needs, while outsourcing refers to hiring external professionals or companies to handle the development process.
  3. Mixed is a combination of outsourcing and in-house approaches, in which a company has both its own in-house expertise and external contractors who simultaneously solve tasks within the company.

Software testing is one of the key activities in software development. Developing expertise in specific areas like test automation or performance testing can be challenging for companies to achieve internally, making it difficult to find testers with all the necessary skills. Therefore, before launching a new testing activity, it is necessary to ensure that the current expertise you have access to will be sufficient for the tasks at hand.

Pros and Cons of QA Outsourcing

Hiring and Problem-solving Efficiency

If a company lacks the necessary expertise, there are two options: hire a competent specialist directly to the staff or find an outside contractor who will provide specialized skills. Here, of course, the decision will depend on time and budget. Attracting an external specialist will be faster and more effective than opening an internal selection and maneuvering the cumbersome interview process. The risk of hiring a person with excellent interview results but in practice can not cope with the task is very high. 

For example, if there is a need to launch test automation, it is better to turn to an external company with proven expertise. This will allow you to avoid mistakes in the organization of a new process, which can become a future headache if the specialist you have hired has insufficient experience to solve such problems. Further, an external contractor will achieve high-quality results in the shortest possible time, because they value their reputation and do efficient work. There is always an opportunity to recruit at the same time so that in time a new hire can take over from the vendor and continue to develop expertise in-house.

Therefore, we advise initially outsourcing complex tasks like launching new test types (performance or security), organizing the testing process, or building test automation, with the aim of transferring that competence in-house later.


Working with an external contractor is almost always more flexible in terms of cooperation than hiring in-house. For example, you can flexibly manage your budget, as the vendor most often provides an opportunity to quickly expand or reduce the team. In this case, you can significantly save your testing budget, because downsizing with full-time employees can result in additional problems and strain on the budget.  It is not easy to cut or hire people without impacting other departments of the company. Hiring can cause a loss of time and productivity of the team at the moment when it is urgent to launch a new product on the market and increase profit.

Risk Management

From the point of view of risk management and transparency of work, the advantage is of course on the side of an in-house model.  In-house employees report only to you and there is an opportunity to fully control their work. When product testing is outsourced, the results of the external contractor’s work can be seen only at the very end of the work, and there will most likely be no clear understanding of who is doing what. A mixed approach is best for risk management: the external contractor is integrated into the company’s processes and control over them is carried out in the same way as for regular employees.


This question always causes a lot of controversy, because there is no exact methodology for calculating the cost of one specialist. Often you hear that outsourcing is more expensive than hiring an employee in the staff, but we advise, first of all, to compare not only the salary of the employee but also all the additional costs that the company incurs. For example, costs like payment of taxes, the time of HR in the selection, the cost of vacations, sick leave, and so on. If you add it all together, you can see that the cost of QA outsourcing is not so different from hiring a person in-house, and where it may even be lower if we are talking about a specific competency, such as a performance engineer. Yes, outsourcing will be more expensive, but you will have fewer headaches, a more flexible resource process, and more. So it’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to pay for a service or if you want to handle everything yourself. One of the best options may be to use a combined approach when the company has expensive competent specialists on its side, and an external vendor is engaged as a reinforcement for the work of the current team or to perform simple tasks with cheaper resources.


The point we would like to pay attention to is the team’s involvement in the testing process. We don’t need to explain here that full-time employees are more motivated to work on the company’s product, they have an understanding of the company’s internal culture, and the manager has the ability to retain and reward the employee. Nevertheless,  we have also found a close integration of vendor and customer where even external employees feel themselves a part of the team. 


One last thing we want to mention is stability. Unfortunately, when working with an external vendor, you will not always have a sense of stability within the team. There may be occasional situations where an employee unexpectedly leaves the external vendor, which can naturally take you by surprise. Therefore, full-time employees are usually more stable, but if the vendor’s work on rotation is organized correctly and effectively, you will not even notice that someone left your team or that a new person has taken his place. Therefore, you should always pay attention to whether the vendor is responsible for the efficiency and performance of the team provided.

Mixed Approach

In conclusion, we would like to say that the use of one or another approach to fulfill the tasks set for testing is an individual decision of each manager. It is important not to immediately remove the option of QA outsourcing, because in many cases it can be more effective in terms of budget and speed of obtaining results. It is crucial to remember that you can always recruit an in-house team, but it is not always possible to get the desired results quickly and effectively only through in-house competence. Therefore, even if you do not have the ability to completely outsource your work, we advise you to initially look towards the mixed approach as the most optimal in terms of organization and performance of testing tasks. Below we prepared the table to compare all approaches with each other: QA outsourcing, in-house team and their mix .

Additionally, if you need help solving your current testing tasks, our experts are ready to help you. Discover the power of our QA Services and get in touch today!

Alexander Meshkov

Delivery QA Director at First Line Software

Alexander Meshkov is QA Delivery Director at FLS. Alexander has over 10 years of experience in software testing, organization of the testing process, and test management. A frequent attendee and speaker of diverse testing conferences, actively engages in discussions and keeps up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in the field.


Ilia Blaer, Director Of Operations at First Line Software

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