You always need a test team. However, here are a few situations when you should think about hiring a test consultant:
- When you have tight deadlines and you need (additional) resources very fast
- When you need a person that is highly specialized
- When you want to have an objective measurement of the quality of your product
- When you need resources or certain skills for a short period of time
- When you want to have your current testing processes and practices improved
Don’t waste time employing resources that may only be needed for one particular project and for a short period of time. If you are sure that the initial schedule cannot be changed and you cannot move the deadlines, the best approach is to quickly hire a test specialist who will start working on the project right away and will have all the necessary skills for testing your product. However, make sure that everything that has already been done for the project is well documented or you may find out that you are not buying extra time by hiring a test consultant.
It takes time and money to train one of your employees to get really specialized on a certain test area. The testing training courses are not cheap. You might also find it difficult and expensive to recruit a specialized person. The most common practice in cases like this is to get a test consultant that will also train your team to use or update the already existing scripts/test cases for the next projects and releases once their project is done and their task completed.
You should get test consultants to design and execute tests in System Testing or User Acceptance testing when you could benefit from having an “internal auditor” verify and validate your application before shipping it to the client. As a client, you may want someone to confirm that the level of quality is the same as the one stated by the vendor before paying the bill and marking the contract as successfully completed.
Whenever you need a test specialist or test manager to do a certain task for a determined period of time and you know that you will not need that resource afterwards, you should pay for a test consultant. You will get someone who can start right away and cut down the costs with re-training an employee for a new position after the task is done.
If you want to change or improve the current practices in your testing department, you should get a consultant specialized in test management. You will benefit from the consultant’s extensive experience in choosing the optimal and the most suitable process for your project and your company and you will give your other testers a chance to learn and improve their skills. Test management consultants will also bring their own templates for test strategy and test plan documents, as well as test reports and lessons learned presentations that you can re-use in later projects.