With the growing competition in the QA services market there is always a question of “What is a company’s differentiator”, “what value add does it bring to the table”? In my opinion whether to oust competition or not a true value add that a services company can bring in is to play a consultative role in its customer engagements.
A consultative role does not always mean something high end. It could be as simple as sharing your suggestions with your customer contact when your task is allocated. E.g. does it make sense to run these “x” test cases at this stage in the product life cycle, is the chosen OS Browser matrix the right and optimized set to run a test pass on, is a bug’s resolution indeed the right one etc.
On the other end of the spectrum you could be hired as a vendor to provide QA consulting as a service and to define the QA strategy a company needs to adopt. No doubt, you will play a consultative role in that situation. But when you start playing such a role in your day-to-day activities as previously defined, it just begins to show your passion and commitment to the task at hand, drive to do things right, depth in understanding of both the product and QA process and increases the customer’s overall confidence in your critical thinking, analysis and execution capabilities.
Exercise the right balance though! Your consultative role is not to question and negate the customer’s thought process, but to question it when indeed needed for the overall benefit of your project and product quality. Try practicing this on a day-to-day basis and you will see the positive zeal this brings in, into even some of your mundane tasks.