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D6 | T.E.S.T Digest


Motivating investment in testing


We all know how expensive software errors can be. Tomas Schweigert, principal consultant at SQS and Dr Kai-Uwe Gawlik, head of application intelligence at SQS offer some advice for those wishing to generate more investment in this area.


Q


uality is still an issue in the software business. According to the Standish Group’s Chaos


report 2009 only 32 percent of all projects are delivered on time and within budget. Quality issues can be contributory factors in projects that run disastrously over budget such as the Ariane 5 project which cost $500m and where a software error caused a mission disaster; Fiscus in Germany that cost $900m and the Sabre Reservation System at $195m. A major study, “The Economic


Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing” carried out in 2002 by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that the US economy faces a huge annual loss that could be reduced by better testing and we believe that this conclusion still holds today. It reported that inadequate software testing costs the US economy $59.5bn every year and that testing infrastructure improvements could reduce that cost by $22.2bn. The study also identified a number of improvements that could be achieved, including removing more bugs before the software is released, detecting bugs earlier in the software development process and locating the source of bugs faster and with more precision. The study sets out some of the issues


resulting from poor testing such as increased failures due to poor quality, increased software development costs


T.E.S.T | December 2009 .E.S.T DIGEST | June 2010


and longer time to market. Looking at this study, we would expect there to be a huge amount of investment in effective software testing. Yet since the writing of the report, many organisations have still resisted spending money on improvements in testing.


Cost and time Typically cost and time are very important drivers for IT organisations. Many perform intuitive tests in time boxes. The justification is that the testers find lots of errors without spending time and money on writing systematic test cases. However practical experience shows


that this approach does not support sophisticated quality goals and that current methods while efficient are not effective. As a result many commercial organisations are finding 30-60 percent of all errors, including critical errors, in production. Unfortunately this issue can’t be


resolved easily by doing more of the same. It might seem that if the quality of software is poor, it is enough to increase the time spent testing and/ or the number of testers. The problem is that due to reduced error density, detecting subsequent errors costs a little bit more than detecting the initial errors. So the testing cost per detected error is not linear but exponential and the method that was so efficient in finding the first 30 percent of errors turns out to be very inefficient when


A major study, “The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing” carried out in 2002 by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that the US economy faces a huge annual loss that could be reduced by better testing and we believe that this conclusion still holds today. It reported that inadequate software testing costs the US economy $59.5bn every year and that testing infrastructure improvements could reduce that cost by $22.2bn.


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