Software Testing Management as a Business Decision

Posted on Sep 19, 2012 in blogBugsQA

In a previous post, we explored the importance of quality tools for software testing from the vantage point of the actual testers themselves. Better products make for better testing. This, in turn, makes our lives much easier.

But software testing is also a business decision.

You wouldn’t necessary realize this given how much money goes into marketing and development versus the actual debugging. The contrast is, perhaps, understandable on the surface. Testing isn’t terribly sexy, and very rarely do we appear on the cover of Forbes or Fortune after launching billion dollar enterprises from our parents’ garages.

But software testing management is an incredibly important part of a company’s bottom line, and I wish that more development firms had budgets that reflected this fact.

The impact of software testing tools can be measured both in money lost (i.e. expenses) and money gained (i.e. profit). Let’s take a closer look.

Quality Tools for Software Testing = Faster Time to Market

First the expenses. When your software testing management platform fails to catch bugs early on, you end up forking out more money in development hours.

We’ve all been there – round after round of tests, suggestions, and improvements.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), these endless rounds of debugging account for 80% of software development costs. Oddly enough, the testing process rarely gets factored accurately into the project’s budget beforehand, which helps to explain why so many projects go over budget and past the deadline.

Better software testing tools means fewer rounds of debugging. Fewer rounds mean fewer expenses.

Now the profit side.

Every day that you delay a product’s launch, you lose a few more potential customers since competitors are constantly developing their own rival packages. This definitely applies to breakthrough launches that enjoy the much-coveted early mover advantage. But it also applies to more run-of-the-mill updates. In a world where IT evolves at lightning speed, delays can spell disaster.

Quality Tools for Software Testing = Better Products

Quick releases are only beneficial if the final product is good quality. Even at Testuff, we’ve had to delay some of our regular monthly updates a few days to ensure that what came out was exactly what our users needed.

The wisdom behind this is so simple that it almost doesn’t need explaining. Why in the world would any company want to release subpar products? But it’s worth dissecting this a bit more. Please bear with me.

Every defect results in one of three things (from bad to worse):

  1. More call center costs as you help troubleshot the defect. Not only must you man the phones, but you must also recruit and train staff so they know how to competently answer questions.
  2. More returns and refunds. This carries a whole lot of costs like restocking, repacking, exchanges, credit card refunds, and miscellaneous fees.
  3. Lost customers. It’s technically not an expense when a customer never returns. But you have to factor in the ill will you create every time you lose business. Users talk to one another. They share horror stories. As the grapevine catches wind of your bugs, you not only lose the original customer, but you also lose his friends and associates.

Real Life Examples of Insufficient Software Testing Management

We’ve all heard of the big fails out there. Sometimes we even chuckle to ourselves, thankful that it won’t be our heads on the platter when all the dust settles. Here are a few of the bigger ones:

  • The Mars Climate Orbiter – a hefty $327.6 million gone in mere minutes
  • 2007’s LAX Airport software security glitch in which 17,000 planes were grounded for up to 8 hours
  • The 2003 blackout in the US, which resulted in $6 billion in repairs and lost income

These epic failures clearly illustrate the impact of major glitches. But when you add up all the little bugs – from your own team, from your rivals, from companies you’ve never even heard of – the aggregate numbers are even more staggering.

Software bugs cost the US economy approximately $60 billion a year, with some estimates placing the number closer to $80 billion. According to NIST, roughly 33% (or $25 billion) of these costs could be avoided with better testing – and that’s just in the United States.

Software Testing Management Pays for Itself and Then Some

If by investing a little more time, thought, and money in the front end, you could potentially remove yourself from the statistics above – doesn’t the extra effort essentially pay for itself?

Most errors won’t land you in the newspapers or lose you millions of dollars. But if you could reduce 33% or more of the mistakes you already make, isn’t it worth testing right? Planning testing in advance, including it from the design phase, allocating it the budget, and selecting a software testing management platform that performs well?