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The million dollar question:

Cost-efficient Software Testing. Where to start?

Posted by: Eva
Category: Business, Test leadership & expertise

The single most common misunderstanding regarding software testing, shared by decision takers across all sectors, is that software testing is an avoidable cost. The main reason for this is the simple fact that they are not able to manage testing in an efficient and effective manner. As many good things, a solid foundation and a clear organization-wide strategy is needed to bring software testing costs to a bare minimum and have the full effect of its benefits and cost savings in other departments. This means an initial investment is necessary to be able to guarantee a cost-efficient and effective way of software testing. The million-dollar question emerges: when does an organisation need to make this investment and where to start?

What is a reasonable cost for software testing?

It is very hard to advise on one single number, to express the cost for software testing. From our experience, the best way to decide if costs spent on software testing are reasonable, is to compare the cost of software testing in relation to the cost of production incidents. Software testing should always bring financial benefits when developing software applications.

“Software testing should always bring financial benefits when developing software applications”

Cost of poor quality

Defining the cost of poor quality can be very complex. On the other hand, defining the cost of fixing production incidents, is something that every organisation should be able to do for itself considering their specific situation. In the world we currently live in, creating software first time right, has become more important than ever before. F.e. a mobile application being launched for the first time which doesn’t function properly, will never be used again by the end user.

“Creating software first time right, has become more important than ever before”

The graph below is a well-known illustration on how the relative cost to correct a defect, is much higher towards the end of the software delivery life cycle. You will end up paying three or even four times more when addressing a software defect during the “Test” stage, compared to when it was caught during the “Design” stage. The cost of fixing an incident in a production environment, is several times higher.

Shift left

It seems common sense to focus on the early stages of software development and thus prevent defects as much as possible. Our experience thought us the only qualitative measure is the number of defects found before testing, being considerably higher than the ones found during the testing stage. For many teams or organisations this requires a different mindset, but it does not require magic. This does not mean this is an easy process. If crafting excellent software were easy, there would be no need for any kind of verification or validation.

 “For many teams or organisations this requires a different mindset, but it does not require magic”

To explain shift left in one phrase, the simplest would be to state that ‘testing’ should not be postponed until the last few days before a release. It should shift to the left on the project timeline. The main goal is to test early and often. So, this does not mean testing towards the end of the development cycle is forbidden. These test stages should still be performed as usual, but because you prevented or found most issues earlier on, they will be smaller and faster to solve.

How to get started with cost-efficient testing?

As you can see the above-mentioned solutions are far from ideal. Yet, in many organisations those are actual scenarios. In those cases, software testing is indeed often an avoidable cost. The reason for this is quite simple: to be able to make your software testing as cost-efficient as possible your organisation needs a tailored and solid foundation and a clear organization-wide software testing strategy. The best way to create this view, is to look at the organisation’s processes, methods, people and tools that are part of the software development lifecycle. And then it comes down to a simple, yet clear statement: first move well, then move fast.

 “It comes down to a simple, yet clear statement: first move well, then move fast.”

The first step is to start moving well. We have found that the best way to create such a solid foundation, is by taking an outside-in view of your software development organisation and software testing activities. By looking at the organisation’s specific needs, available budget and the needed maturity level it is possible to create a tailored approach based on best practices, for any organisation. At Brightest, we have made it our mission to create innovative solutions to enable organisations realize their quality objectives. Our way of approaching this is by performing an assessment, which we named BrightScan.


A Brightscan is a highly effective assessment, executed by a team of specialists, to obtain an objective analysis of an organisation’s current software quality organisation and to deduce future evolution initiatives. It allows organisations to improve their test maturity and time to market while reducing their quality costs.

Efficient process

Over a period of 2 to 4 weeks, we conduct online surveys and stakeholder interviews, to create a complete overview on the strengths and weaknesses of the current (test) organisation. Depending on the need, we focus on the full process (beyond testing) and more technical matters. After this analysis a roadmap is created that highlights quick wins and defines short and long-term goals/improvements. We aim to link each goal to a measurable value for the organisation, to give them an idea of the Return On Investment (ROI) of each improvement. What is left is the implementation of this roadmap, organisations can start implementing this roadmap themselves and/or hire our expertise to guide them through their transformation. 

Ready to bring your software development organisation towards a higher level? A BrightScan can be conducted for any type of organisation, from Start-Ups to Multinationals. Pricing for a BrightScan depends on the complexity of organisation, for more information or a quote simply contact us!

Infographic brightscan