utest_logoSoftware testing is not an easy process. It is the brute force review of functionality and is often considered a necessary, but unpleasant experience. In fact, most software developer regrets having to do QA and even worse, wait for QA by others to finish so they can start working on the bug fixes. And, every QA manager loathes the pressure of testing products where management has high expectations going into the test bed, especially when they're already late to market, because revenue will be delayed too, unless QA can get the amazing new product through faster than expected? Yuck.

Truth is, Quality can't be rushed, but it can be done around the clock. In the past that meant long hours, and gallons of black coffee that all so much seemed like pulling an all-nighter to study for exams the next morning. But, no more…

uTest, just down the road in Southborough (8.8 miles from our office) MA defines a new approach using the web to both deliver the test product with test scripts, but also control the bug reporting processes. Multiple testers can participate simultaneously, but only the first reporter gets credit for the bug and only when the client accepts the bug does the uTest company and the uTest tester get paid. Clients can rate their testers too. Hundreds or thousands of testers, or users with Armenian or Urdu or Swahilli language skills can be engaged to test the product.

uTest, founded in 2007, has built up a large community of some 11,550 testers in a very short period of time. Although the work is serious, testers do the testing like a game. They login at their convenience, sign in to the projects that they want to and are qualified to test for (language, browser, software experience, computer OS are some of the options), test, record bugs and earn points. Those with more points get paid more for each bug they discover. So, practice makes perfect.

uTest uses the time shifting capabilities of the web so clients can actually release product for testing on Friday afternoons. It's way cheaper than other approaches of having a full-time test community, having testers on retainer ready to do testing, or releasing product without complete testing.

This is quite innovative, and consistent with other buying center class of services. A buying center is the class of Internet service that brings buyers and sellers together, allowing anonymity (when required) and transactional trust provided by the third party operation. Ariba does this for business products offering spend management services. Joomlancer.com does this so Joomla (an open source content management system) webmasters can access expert software developers and Joomla professionals. uTest brings software quality managers and testers together in a process that is profitable for both parties.

I'd expect more of these kinds of services developing where large numbers of people use the Internet to perform functions that are uniquely human. Another example is the naming of images used some form of CAPTCHA processes. Humans are pretty good at seeing a photo of a cat and saying that's a cat.