22 November, 2014

Managed Crowdtesting - An Augmented Approach to Testing

Testing Industry is going through an ocean of changes. Evolving IT landscape is getting more consumer-driven, open-source and cloud based. With increasing complexity in hardware and software choices, its getting harder and harder to get good testing done on infinite number of platforms, devices, test configurations and a wide variety of user personas.

What is Crowdtesting?

Crowdtesting or Crowdsourced testing is the real-world testing in an on-demand model, delivered through highly skilled & qualified, geographically distributed professionals over a secure private platform.
Crowdtesting solves traditional testing problems as follows:
  • Same brains testing software
  • Fixed/Limited availability of resources
  • Lack of user perspective
  • Lack of fresh ideas

Let me give you a short overview of Managed Crowdtesting which is an extension to how crowdtesting can be done better.

Managed Crowdtesting

A qualified Project Manager, who is typically a proven community leader or a person from the client/the platform company, designs or reviews test strategy, and approves or amends them to cater to client’s specific testing requirements. Each project includes an explanation and access to a forum where bugs and issues are discussed and additional questions can be asked. Testers submit documented bug reports and are rated based on the quality of their reports. The amount the testers earn increases as they report more bugs that are approved by the project manager. The community combines aspects of collaboration and competition, as members work to finding solutions to the stated problem.

Advantages of Crowdtesting

1. Representative scenarios from the real user base
2. Tight feed-back loop with rapid feedback processing and agility
3. Comprehensiveness in use cases, platforms, tools, browsers, testers, etc. that is very hard to replicate in an in-house test lab
4. Cost efficiency
5. Diversity among the pool of testers lends to extensive testing
6. Reduced time to test, time to market and total cost of ownership as most defects can be identified in relatively short time, which leads to significant reductions in maintenance costs

Disadvantages of Crowdtesting

1. Governance efforts around security, exposure and confidentiality when offering a community project to wide user base for testing
2. Project management challenges that stem from the testers’ diverse backgrounds, languages and
experience levels
3. Quality assurance efforts to verify and improve bug reports, identify and eliminate bug duplicates and
false alarms
4. Equity and equality constraints in the reward mechanism with remuneration as a function of the quality of contributions that meets a prescribed minimum standard

Where does Crowdtesting fit best?

Mobile Organizations

With Google, Apple and Microsoft practically giving away their development tools for free, there is a growing developer base creating mobile apps and responsive web sites for android, iOS and Windows platforms. But, it’s easy to underestimate the costs of building and monetizing an app successfully. One way to save costs is to consider crowd testing.
Crowdtesting is most suitable for applications that are user-centric. Users of Mobile and Gaming applications in particular expect the apps to work on thousands of devices from different manufacturers, device sizes, resolutions, network carriers and locations. This calls for not just a group of testers to test on handful of devices and configurations, but for an ocean of users with this kind of diversity.

Growth Stage Startups

With Lean Startup revolution catching up in different parts of the world, startup founders today have gotten smarter by releasing cheaper or free versions of products in beta stage. A few years ago, beta testing happened with a select group that was guarded from the general public. Now, many startups are opening up early versions of applications to users to gather quick and critical feedback. They want to fail faster and learn quicker.
Some applications can be tested in few locations only, some need specific cable connections and network carriers, few others need a specific network connection like 4G LTE or higher, some have needs for specific language users and so on. In such cases, any user might not work. Specific users will be needed in which case an engaged and managed Crowdtesting community comes into play.


Large enterprises can benefit from crowd-sourced testing by simulating a large user base to understand usage patterns and improve on feedback, while ensuring their applications run smoothly on a number of different devices, operating systems, browsers and language versions. Applications with high defect exposure factor post release are good candidates for Crowdtesting.
For e.g. Microsoft released the beta version of its Office 2010 productivity suite, which was downloaded and tested by 9 million people who provided 2 million valuable comments and insights, resulting in substantial product improvements.

Augmenting your test approach

I have heard several businessmen and sales people speak about why offshore testing will work or distributed testing won’t work or how crowdtesting is a magic bullet and so on. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, I can confidently say that there is no magic bullet. Every organization maintains certain ethos with comfortable work culture, talent pool of people and scores of technical debts. Software testing is the least of problems for many organizations, be it 50 years ago, today or even 50 years later. Because, according to customer, software testing consumes money, it doesn’t bring money. In such an overhead situation, selling software testing solutions bundled in different packages to customers as “the most innovative solution of the century” no longer makes sense.
The need of the hour in providing testing solutions is to pitch testing models/solutions as an augmented approach to testing.

Scenario 1 – An organization which employs traditional testing methodologies approaches you for testing

This organization, let’s say, has a mature testing process in place and also has a “Test Center-of- Excellence” for all the testing / QA work that gets done within the organization. How would you add value to them? It’s important to understand the needs of the customer, identify the pain points they are going through as a result of not testing or doing poor testing and pitch a model that fits best for them. Customer might take a couple of test cycles to gauge if that model works well or not.
In this case, if bringing a fresh pair of eyes, then suggesting several new team members in the company/team to initiate testing helps. If it needs to be done on a larger scale, Crowdtesting can be an option. Note that it is not the only option, but one of the options.

Scenario 2 - An organization is looking for diversity in test configurations and devices

A large organization with web or mobile applications accessed from different operating systems, browsers and browser versions, multiple mobile devices, different platforms like Android, iOS, Windows OS, several manufactures, different screen sizes and resolutions. From a cost and time perspective, organizations often find it hard to test on a variety of test configurations. Such a context is suitable for Crowdtesting where a professional testing community works in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model and tests the application, hence giving broader device/platform coverage.

Scenario 3 - An organization wants to solve its regression testing problem

Many legacy applications have a need for regression testing. While new features are conceptualized and implemented, the pain of maintaining existing features from breaking is a big pain. This risk is further aggravated given the number of operating systems, browsers, mobile devices and other test configurations. Regression testing candidates are a great fit for Crowdtesting where the crowd is capable of regressing on a variety of platforms and test configurations within a short period of time.

What does the future hold?

Crowdsourced testing, clearly, has its advantages and limitations. It cannot be considered as a panacea for all testing requirements and the power of the crowd should be diligently employed. The key to great Crowdtesting would be to use it prudently depending on the tactical and strategic needs of the organization that seeks Crowdsourced testing services. It is important for the organization to embrace the correct model, identify the target applications, implement Crowdtesting, explore them for few test cycles; monitor test results and custom make the model to suit their needs.

Why am I talking about Crowdtesting?

I recently joined PASS Technologies, which is into software testing services – Offshore testing and Crowdtesting. While I have been in the Offshore Testing Services for about 11 years now, this is my first experience of how Crowdtesting works. I see a lot of benefits for organizations to adopt Crowdtesting and augment their testing services, be it services based organizations or product based.

What’s in it for a Customer

·         On-Demand Testing
·         Better Test Coverage
·         Faster Test Results
·         Cheaper
·         Scalable Solution

What’s in it for a Tester?

Testers get to “Earn, Learn and Grow” using passbrains platform. Tester benefits include
1. Earning for approved bugs on a per bug payout model
2. Networking with some of the coolest testers who are on our community
3. Recognition as star testers in the community

What are you waiting for? Register on www.passbrains.com as a customer or tester and let us know how passbrains can help you.


Content references include thoughts and ideas from Dieter Spiedel, Mithun Sridharan and Mayank Mittal.