A software development process that doesn’t include quality assurance is like tailoring an exquisite garment without a fitting: chances that it hits the mark are remote. The importance of software testing centers around its crucial role in ensuring the high quality and reliable performance of applications. With a properly tested application, you can prevent damage that software failure can cause.
Knowing this, why do numerous companies still skip testing? The simple answer is that it doesn’t create real value, as opposed to programming, and may be mistakenly considered a waste of time, money and effort. However, thinking in the long term allows you to understand the essential role of testing in software development and savor its full potential.
Let’s take a closer look at reasons why QA should become an integral part of your software development process.
- Fulfilment of Business Objectives
- Loss of Life Prevention
- Financial Loss Prevention
- Lead Time Control
- Sensitive Data Protection
- Impeccable User Experience
- Reputation Safeguarding
1. Fulfilment of Business Objectives
Any company that kicks off a software development process needs to address a specific business challenge, achieve a specific goal or provide specific value to its customers. If software fails to fulfill project deliverables, the business doesn’t get the desired solution on time or at all, depending on how serious the quality issues are.
In both cases, low software quality adversely impacts the business, and it does it in a number of ways: digital transformation gets stale, sales don’t boost, and production processes are outdated, just to name a few.
Due to software collapse, NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter went missing in 1999, which is why the project’s mission — extensive scientific research — failed.
2. Loss of Life Prevention
Unfortunately, poor software quality may even affect human wellbeing and lives. The most vivid example of the importance of software quality is the crash of China Airlines Flight 140 in 1994, when a glitch was among the causes of the tragedy.
Another example is the 2014 case of Nissan, who had to recall approximately one million cars because of an airbag software bug. The software responsible for determining whether the front passenger seat was occupied or not was found to be unreliable. In a car accident, if the software failed to correctly determine if the airbag should go off or not, it could have resulted in injury and death.
3. Financial Loss Prevention
Compromised software quality may lead to a complete disaster worth hundreds of millions of dollars, as in the case of NASA’s unfulfilled mission. But most frequently, what happens is that a business gets an online shop, an ERP system, or another solution that works poorly or doesn’t work at all, so the aftermath is not so severe.
In such a case, a business has three options: remake the app, start it anew or give up on it. Each of the options is associated with huge financial losses. But testing also costs money, you may say. Not as much as error correction. Also, if testing is incorporated in the development process, you may be confident in the solution’s quality and won’t have to guess whether it’ll fail one day or not.
Poor quality results not only in the increase of development-related expenses. Improper operation may cause huge losses, especially if software has access to bank accounts or other financial data. TSB Bank’s mistake proves the importance of software quality assurance: they switched over to a new platform although it wasn’t fully tested. An undetected malfunction caused them more than £100 million in losses.
4. Lead Time Control
If an error reveals itself only after the release, the development team has to spend a considerable amount of time reengineering the piece of software to fix the bug. The more serious the bug is, the more time they contribute, which increases the lead time and development cost in the long run.
If testers keep a close eye on software under development and check it along the line, chances that the development team will have to remake anything all over again are just minimal. But testing also takes time — again, you may disagree. Agile development methodology allows teams to integrate QA into the development cycle so that testing and development departments work simultaneously and the lead time doesn’t increase.
5. Sensitive Data Protection
With increasing amounts of personal data that applications access and use, software quality is a must. Ironically, security service companies are also vulnerable to cyberattacks. For example, website security service provider Cloudflare suffered a severe data leak through a breach in their computer system, which affected thousands of their customers’ websites.
When it comes to the protection of sensitive user data, traditional software QA is not enough, as it must be applied together with security testing.
6. Impeccable User Experience
With markets getting increasingly saturated and new products released in huge numbers, impeccable quality of user experience can help a business stand out from the competition. In such cases, it’s difficult to overestimate the significance of software testing.
Properly tested applications are user friendly, compatible with all device types, have a flawless look and feel, and, most importantly, perform all expected functions, which results in customer satisfaction. A good example of how software shouldn’t behave is the outage of British Airways’ IT system: it caused hundreds of flight delays and cancellations, triggering serious passenger dissatisfaction.
Also, a glitch in the functionality of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in 2019 infuriated millions of users when Mark Zuckerberg’s pet projects failed their expectations.
7. Reputation Safeguarding
The Facebook case also demonstrates that damage to a company’s reputation can cost billions of dollars, and it depends highly on software quality.
In medicine, cyberattacks are gaining traction, leaving health-care providers with huge financial and reputational losses and millions of affected patients. For example, the WannaCry attack targeted the UK’s National Health Service in 2017 through a breach in the computer system. It cost the organization millions of pounds, shattered patients’ confidence, and what’s worse — damaged the company’s reputation.
Get the Most out of Software Testing
A good testing process is about more than just revealing software aberrations. It helps you provide high software quality, be in full control of your funds, time and reputation, and meet customer expectations. Although a well-thought-out testing process provides significant benefits and its role is crucial for business success, its implementation is not very difficult or costly.
At the same time, some companies still neglect the importance of testing in software development and release applications without having them properly tested. It’s unlikely that someone will drive an untested car, so why not be overcautious with your software as well?