Aussie firm aims to build 10,000-strong software army

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Aussie firm aims to build 10,000-strong software army
Hamish Leighton

Australian software testing provider Revolution IT is hoping to turn 10,000 local software professionals into a pool of software testers-for-hire.

Just as sites like 99designs have popularised a model where freelance graphic designers compete for work at basement prices, Revolution IT is adopting a similar approach.

The CRN Fast50 entrant plans to invite thousands of local software testers and professionals to sign up for what it says is Australian's first managed onshore crowd testing service.

By combining these people with a talent pool of 100,000 via overseas crowdsourcing partners, Revolution IT hopes to become the "biggest testing organisation" in the world, in the words of Revolution IT director Hamish Leighton.

"This puts us on a globe scale, bigger than any other of the outsourcers. The pool of talent we can reach now is phenomenal."

The sheer number of testers, as well as the price and speed, are key selling points.

Leighton claims that projects that might take six months and cost up to $70,000 could be reduced to five to ten days at a maximum cost of $10,000.

Testing can potentially be done across multiple operating systems and many devices without building software testing labs.

Revolution IT has partnered with four crowdsourcing providers - 99tests, Bugfinders, Testbirds and Passbrains - customers of which, according to a presentation from Revolution IT, include the likes of Microsoft, Google and eBay as users. Locally, Allianz and ANZ are among those that have used crowdtesting.

"We're seeing people using it for SAP and CRM… ServiceNow rollouts," said Leighton, who added that he has seen the approach used on projects costing more than $10 million.

Revolution IT has no local crowdsourced customers of its own it can point to yet, but aims to convert the firm's customer base of more than 400 enterprises.

Revolution IT is banking on a "hybrid" approach, whereby it uses both the larger community and its own in-house testing teams.

"We see crowd testing as a complimentary service rather than as a replacement [for in-house testing]," said a Revolution IT spokesperson.

It will deliver a test plan which it will then get the crowd to execute. The company promises the data will be hosted locally and can setup a "verified" private crowd for customers like banks.

Testers can be asked to sign confidentiality agreements and police checks can be made on testers.

The 10-year old company also faces the task of building its local community of testers.

The plan is to approach 10,000 people on Revolution IT's contact list - including people who have either interviewed for jobs or applied for jobs in the past - to formally join its community of testers-for-hire.

Some point out that external software testers don't know a company's internal systems and can't understand the context for some problems they detect.

Security is another issue and Revolution IT cautions against jumping into crowdsourced testing for the first time with high-risk projects.

The sheer number of defects that testers pickup is also cited by some as a challenge for companies to deal with.

Still, Leighton points to other sectors that have adopted crowdsourcing, from architecture to graphic design. He predicts the same trend will sweep software testing.

"We see this as coming and we want to pioneer this in Australia," he said.

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