How Much Does Software Testing Cost? 9 Proven Ways to Optimize it.

Understand what is software testing cost, how to measure it and best practices to reduce software testing costs in this blog.

October 6, 2021
8 mins read
Last Updated October 22, 2021
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How Much Does Software Testing Cost? 9 Proven Ways to Optimize it.

In 1962, Mariner 1 spacecraft was launched by NASA as the first attempt of the US to send a spacecraft to Venus. But it had to be self-destructed when they found out that a software bug may possibly cause the rocket to go in a completely wrong direction. Thus, the rocket was destroyed after 290 seconds of takeoff. It turned out that eliminating a hyphen in coded computer instructions in the data editing program resulted in wrong signals. 

At that time, it cost a whopping loss of $18 million.

This example is evident that even if software testing seems time-consuming to many development teams, it is the most valuable and critical phase for any product to be successfully delivered. Thus, software testing is an opportunity to improve your product as much as possible before the final delivery. 

But what hinders this opportunity is the “cost.” 

As reported by the global survey of IT executives, more than half of the respondents identify software testing costs as the biggest challenge. This indicates that organizations need some smart solutions that help them reduce software testing costs without compromising software quality. 

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This blog begins with understanding the importance of software testing, followed by an insight into cost-effective testing solutions and strategies to reduce software testing cost. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a reliable outsourcing partner, Simform’s software testing services are here to help you.

We’ve tried to make this guide as practical as possible for you to find exact solutions to reduce software testing cost. 

How Much does Software Testing Cost and How to Measure it?

The overall software testing costs are observed somewhere between 15 to 25% of the total project cost as per the industry standards. Also, as of 2019, a panel of CIOs and senior technology professionals reported of 2019, a panel of CIOs and senior technology professionals reported that around 23% of their organization’s annual IT budget was allocated towards quality assurance and testing on average.

To answer your question: how many people do I need to test my software product, and what does it cost?

It depends. If your application is developed from scratch, you may need one tester per 5-6 developers, assuming the developers are skilled enough to do unit and integration level testing. On the other hand, if you’re customizing an existing application, the number might vary depending on the complexity of the application.

Generally, the ideal team size for testing a mobile app ranges from 2 to 5 testers for small-sized apps and 5-10 for medium-scale applications. But, again, the team size can vary depending on the type of application software(web app, mobile app, desktop app, etc.), app’s complexity, what you need to test and what kind of testing your developers do, etc.

Here’s what the average hourly rate of software testers look like:

  • Quality assurance engineer- $25/hr
  • Quality assurance analyst- $24/hr
  • Test Engineer- $26/hr
  • Senior quality assurance engineer- $45
  • Automation test engineer- $30-$36

On the other hand, if you plan to outsource testing services, it may cost you a little less or more, depending on the project complexity. There is no exact figure that sums up software testing costs, but such a pricing range is due to many factors that affect software testing. So how do you estimate the pricing of software testing?

You can measure software testing costs by considering 4 major expenses divided into these categories:

  • Prevention costs- the cost to train developers to write maintainable and testable code or hire developers with the same skillset 
  • Detection costs- the cost to create test cases and setting up test environments to detect defects 
  • Internal failure costs- the cost to fix the defects before delivering the product
  • External failure costs- the cost to fix technical problems/issues incurred after delivery of a compromised quality product

The cost to detect defects is generally the major part of overall testing costs. It is by default involved in software testing cost estimation even if the testing team finds no defects. The remaining prices are to work on fixing the defects before delivering a product. 

 Testing efforts spent on internal failures are worth it. It saves time, money, and business reputation. It is also observed that the external failure costs are significantly lesser than the total of internal failure and detecting defects. Therefore, your testing team can create a confident and robust test case and plan the testing activities by evaluating costs based on these categories. 

Below are the testing practices that Simform lives by to help companies manage and reduce software testing costs while still gaining the most effective solutions. 

9 Best practices to Reduce Software Testing Costs

Test Early, Test Often

According to Systems Sciences Institute, the cost to fix an error post product release is 4 to 5 times as much as one uncovered during the design phase. Also, this increases to up to 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase. In addition, many organizations have experienced that it is more challenging to fix post-release bugs than identifying them during the early stages. For instance, a bug caught during unit tests costs much less than the same bug during integration level testing.

That is why testing the modules early and often is the basis of any successful software testing strategy. 

 What can you do to implement this?

  • Start introducing tests at the early stages of development by not letting go of issues down the line from the unit to integration testing. 
  • Prioritize performance and security related issues
  • Frequently run testing sessions, such as regression and continuous testing in every sprint in agile software development. 

Adopt Test-Driven Development

TDD implies writing unit tests even before writing the code. It starts with unit testing of functionalities by specifying the exact function of code from the earlier stages. For example, suppose a function has 3 conditional statements, and there are 3 operations based on these conditions. So, using the TDD approach, you’re supposed to write 3 individual test cases. Practicing TDD will help you identify functionalities that are failing and for whatever reasons. Not only that, developers can quickly work on the identified issues resulting in smooth code refactoring, better documentation, and less debugging. 

Here are three steps to get started: 

  1. Applying TDD to your project requires precise project requirements and an understanding of defining specifications in unit tests. These specifications at earlier stages prevent the projects from going in an undefined scope. 
  2. Gather test case scenarios for failing tests. 
  3. Create unit tests with expected results.

This improves code readability and better product architecture, which simplifies adding new features to the existing code. In addition, it generates high-quality code, fewer bugs, and provides 100% test coverage from the start. 

Check out this guide on Test-Driven Development for detailed information.

Use Modern Tools for Feasible UI Testing

One of the best approaches for effective UI testing is to automate visual regression testing using low code solutions. The main reason is that there are multiple testing tools that enable you to run UI tests in less than 5 minutes without needing developers to code. These tools use smart image comparison, analyze and verify DOM structure and on-page elements, automatic handling of timeouts, and also helps with user acceptance testing. 

 Such practice, in the long run, saves resources of all kinds. Furthermore, it decreases communication gaps with developers, analysts, and testers. Thus, increasing the development process and feasibility with other types of functional testing and user acceptance. 

 We’ve prepared this detailed guide on functional testing types, which also includes user acceptance testing. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out our blog: 8 Functional Testing Types Explained With Examples.

Consider Risk-based Testing

Risk-based testing covers all possible risks that may appear while testing the software. It involves prioritizing the risk factors that may affect the code quality.​​ For example, testing features and functions based on the risk of failure, the importance of the functions, and the possible impact of such failures. This strategy determines the testing goals by organizing the testing team’s efforts in a unidirectional way to reduce risks of failure once the product goes to production. Hence, using this strategy eliminates the possibility of external failure of software products along with several benefits related to productivity and software quality such as, 

  • Specification of test cases 
  • Identification of security gaps and performance bottlenecks 
  • Focussed and better test cases due to risk analysis
  • Early detection of problem areas and preventive activities at the early stages
  • Defined testing goals, strategies, and directions adjusted based on the problem areas
  • Risk monitoring

Use Reusable Materials in Training the Employees

Training is an ongoing process for any growing organization, and so is the case for new testers joining the QA team. You’ll need to introduce your organization’s methodologies and testing team’s work patterns to them. So instead of allocating dedicated resources for training employees, you can use reusable materials and courses. Also, you can ask experts to provide recorded materials that can be used multiple times and host one-time on-site training sessions. 

 This will significantly reduce costs and time spent on training new members in the QA team, as you’ll have the materials and resources ready for easy and efficient onboarding.

Optimize use of Manual Testing

Manual testing is prone to more human errors, and optimizing its usage would ease your software testing cycle, especially in enterprise-level projects. Because as the project scope expands, it’d eventually increase the time, workforce, and overall software testing costs.

However, this practice is time-consuming and challenging in some instances. This is especially true for cases where testers are required to change the entire scope of the testing strategy due to last-minute changes. For example, adding a new feature would require cross-browser testing to see if it works perfectly on multiple browsers. Moreover, enterprise-grade projects have many tests, which is time-consuming, especially when you’ve to do regression testing of the entire project. 

Consider the Hidden Costs

No matter how accurately you try to work around reducing software testing costs, some unexpected hidden costs are bound to emerge due to a variety of circumstances. Because, here’s a thing:

Sometimes software products require specific testing tools and techniques due to their unique functionalities. In such cases, QA teams have to learn or acquire the necessary tools and knowledge about such methodologies. This may entail hidden costs, especially when you are outsourcing this work. Plus, infrastructure costs involve paid and open-source software for automated testing. It might also require you to pay additional fees related to cloud services, databases, servers, etc. 

Other hidden costs are related to the updates in testing tools. For example, sometimes such updates result in issues in the existing code, requiring quality assurance engineers to work more time or may need additional resources.

Use Hyper Testing Strategy

This strategy is a part of agile testing, which addresses testing issues from three angles,

  • process, 
  • practices, 
  • and tools. 

It increases speed to market, overcomes technical complexities that might occur in an agile environment. Furthermore, this unified approach covers end-to-end testing by identifying defects of all potential areas of application. Hence, it gives you increased ROI, reduced test maintenance, and increased capabilities of your continuous testing process. Finally, you can design and execute this test strategy by leveraging many non-functional or functional testing tools

Understand the Impact of Enterprise Application Upgrades

Understanding the impact of smaller updates made to enterprise applications is essential since it may impact critical business processes. To further analyze this, you can use AI-powered analytical tools that show the impact areas with each release. These tools effectively ensure the testing gaps created and also create test cases for the same. This kind of analysis and testing reduces testing time by almost 80% and saves you a lot of time and money while covering 100% risk. 

Manual and Automation testing– Which one is cost-effective?

Manual testing involves exploratory and scripted tests. The former requires testers to explore the application features individually, while the latter suggests manual testers follow step-by-step instructions manually. 

On the other hand, automated tests involve coding or sometimes can be conducted without writing code. Tests based on the coding require skilled programmers, which may cost you on the higher side. In contrast, codeless tests don’t require coding skills, or if it does, it doesn’t demand high-level skills. Such a type of test is performed by automation platforms that perform tests using predefined configurations and recordings. 

How to evaluate one approach over another?

  1. Identify your business case.
  2. Recognize that the existing process you are trying to replace with an automated system is worth the replacement.
  3. Compare what time it takes to perform various tests and report on testing.

You can also use some ROI tools to compare the impact of two solutions and take the help of open-source softwares to reduce software testing costs.

For more details on executing test automation in your projects, check out this guide on test automation best practices and tips for QA managers.

Software Testing Cost - Manual vs Automation testing

What is the real “Cost of Software Quality” and how it affects Business

The cost of software quality is directly related to software testing. Therefore, the more good you and your team are at optimizing testing, the better business value you receive. Conversely, bad testing teams or compromised software testing process results in poor software quality, ultimately impacting customer experiences. 

Cost of quality is the effective measurement of calculating the business value of testing. Say, for example, you require x amount of money to prevent and detect the issues in your software, and it costs you y amount of money due to the defects occurrences.  

Serious consideration of software testing has positive outcomes such as quantifiable findings of the project’s success, reduced time-to-market, quality product, good customer response, feedback on what needs to be fixed, etc. On the other hand, businesses lose their revenue due to defective software testing. For example, a mobile app with a poor user experience costs money and brand image since they’ve to do a lot of rework to make it a useful solution. 

5 Steps for Establishing Test Automation in Microservices

5 steps to improve software QA process ebook

Conclusion

The discussion about software testing costs is endless until you have project requirements at hand and are sure about the project scope. Once you’re all set with the technology stack and project scope, you may go ahead and explore options for the final stage—software testing cost estimation. 

Here exploring options is to decide whether you’d like to outsource the testing or hire in-house developers and check what’s covered and what’s not? 

We, at Simform, use testing types according to the business case of a software product by formulating models, analyzing various testing factors, quantifying the impact of test automation, and assessing the need for manual testing efforts. Though automating test cases seems to result in more maintenance costs, it gives remarkable returns in the long term while immensely improving the software quality and testing process. For more details on testing types and strategies to reduce costs, drop us a line at this email address or say hello on Twitter.

Working from last 8 years into consumer and enterprise mobility, Hardik leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

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