In Brief: Building Human Resources for Software Testing Outsourcing in Kenya
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Nigerian-born Roland Omoresemi has spent the past decade in the US implementing software quality assurance processes and software testing programmes for a range of Fortune 500 companies. It is an industry in which he saw rapidly growing demand in the US, but also across sub-Saharan Africa – and one that offered interesting opportunities in outsourcing. |
In 2009, Omoresemi started his company, Tezza Solutions, in Kenya through a partnership with technology conference company AITEC Africa. Initially, he only concentrated on providing software testing training, both open and in-house. The response was good: To date, the company has trained more than 80 people in the East African region. But he realised quickly that both corporates and government were asking for more comprehensive software testing expertise than what could be achieved in training one or two staff members.
Consultancies and staff augmentation programmes – seconding qualified testers to the client on a longer-term basis – had in fact been part of Omoresemi’s business plan, but there was a bottleneck: Kenya just does not have enough trained software testers. If he wanted to capitalise on this opportunity – and not fly in trained testers from abroad -, Omoresemi realised that he would have to build a human resource pool quickly, a task that would require some investment.
Raw talent is clearly available, he thinks: In response to two online ads searching for developers who were interested in becoming software testers, Tezza received 500 CVs. In the first round, Tezza held interview rounds to select a first group of ten candidates for the software testing training: all recent college graduates with IT-related degrees and some software development exposure. Tezza offered the ten candidates the training without charge – and when previous offers of free training facilities fell through, software company Craft Silicon agreed to let Tezza use their training facilities.
All ten testers went through a rigorous two-week training programme on the International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB) Foundation Level syllabus, including a week of hands-on experience creating deliverables like test plans, test cases, the configuration of defect management tools, and the use of test automation tools. Omoresemi is happy with the results: “These are perhaps some of the best trained software testers in Kenya today considering the amount of time they’ve spent doing real life, hands-on exercises that are extremely applicable to what they would find at any job site today.”
But a two-week training cannot replace practical experience, and so Omoresemi aims to place the freshly trained software testers in internships with Kenyan corporates – under the supervision of his team. After the completion of one to two months of internships, the new software testers will join Tezza’s pool of test consultants who will join clients under a staff augmentation programme.
The Kenyan government has selected the outsourcing sector as one of its priority sectors to accelerate GDP growth and diversify the economy. But building the industry has been a slow process and in particular the call-centre sector, despite high expectations, has not developed as anticipated: international competition remains fierce, Kenya does not yet feature on the global map for outsourcing destinations, and the Kenyan government is struggling to find its feet (see Is the Egypt Crisis an Opening for Kenya’s Nascent Outsourcing Industry?), by no means a recent discussion (Knowledge Process Outsourcing: The Next Big Thing?). Bharti Airtel’s decision to locate its Africa headquarters in Nairobi should give Kenya’s ambitions a boost: Bharti’s business model is heavily reliant on outsourcing, and it will bring several business partners to Africa.
For Omoresemi, training was always part of the plan and he views it as a useful service to position the company in the market. Ultimately, however, he has bigger plans – having used outsourcing capacities in India himself, he sees no reason why some of this work should not go to Kenya: ‘We came into East Africa in order to build capacity of software testers that we can put to work for clients in North America and Europe since there is a shortfall of more than 22,000 testers globally. We believe we will be able to grow our resources into a pool of about 500 to 1,000 software testers, project managers and business analysts within the next five years. We are on track to grow to about 25 to 50 testers before the end of the year.”
At the moment, Omoresemi still has to rely on non-Kenyan resources: Tezza currently has a partnership with two companies, a US consulting company that specialises in placing software testers at clients' sites, and its Indian counterpart with some 70 staff. He plans to use these resources while his company builds a Kenyan talent pool: “We embarked on this partnership as a means to gain efficiency and capability in the area of test automation until such a time when we are able to develop our own local resources that can handle test automation. As we build capacity in Kenya, the US partnership will assist us in finding projects in the US where our resources Kenya can be deployed.”