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Tech guns for hire: 5 places to find skilled IT contractors

By Logan Kugler
May 22, 2012 06:00 AM ET

uTest

When it comes to application testing, uTest puts a nice spin on this essential part of the software lifecycle: The firm crowdsources it. Employing vetted testers, uTest offers a variety of testing, from functional testing to usability, security and load testing, for any Web, desktop or mobile application you can dream up.

uTest
uTest offers testing services for everything from load testing to localization testing.

Once you hire uTest, the company hands the task to its pool of testers, who then provide feedback, ratings, bug reports and two-way communication with you throughout the testing cycles.

While uTest provides highly skilled IT testers, that's all it provides. You won't find any of the batch offerings of others on this list, but you do get a critical service on the cheap. And because testing has a choppy demand curve, requiring zero testers one month and 20 the next, it's an ideal function to outsource.

The service is especially attractive for small businesses that can't afford to hire in-house testers: uTest says it offers functional, unlimited testing for a year, on-demand and at about half the cost of employing a full-time QA analyst (at a median entry-level salary of $47,000 a year, according to Salary.com). However, prices do vary depending on the complexity of the application, as well as the type and frequency of the testing required. Other pricing packages exist for non-functional testing, some of which are offered on a per-project basis.

IT staffing firms

Freelancer sites can help you find workers with the skills you need, but they don't always come through if you're looking for someone with experience in your particular industry. "Let's say you want a Java programmer who is experienced in the banking industry," says Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, a consortium of IT firms, vendors and consultants. "To go try to find that person if you are not an expert in that subject area can be quite challenging."

That's why Roberts recommends going to a traditional IT staffing firm, even for short-term contract work. While staffing firms don't bring the same speed and ease-of-use to the table as websites that pool freelancers, they can be more reliable and add more value to the process, he says. "[IT staffing firms] have a database of folks who have been successful before. They can actually tailor the particular search to a client's needs."

That doesn't mean every IT staffing firm is golden, says Roberts. Look for firms that have been in business for a while and always be sure they have the expertise to find the particular skill set you need, along with the track record to back it up. As in many cases, numbers tell the real story: Ask how many times the firm has placed someone with the specific skill set and industry experience you're looking for.

Research firm Inavero runs the nation's only award competition that honors staffing firms with exceptional customer reviews. This year's awards are a good place to start if you're looking for staffing expertise. Notable IT staffing firms on the list include Apex Systems Inc., TEKsystems Inc. and Analysts International Corp..

Projects that require contract work give you an opportunity to leverage the large amounts of for-hire contract IT talent out there. If you follow the tips above, not only will you get a worker who does your company proud, but you might even find someone you want to bring on board permanently.

Logan Kugler is a frequent Computerworld contributor. His most recent article was "6 tools to tame digital distractions."

Read more about IT Outsourcing in Computerworld's IT Outsourcing Topic Center.



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