How Testing Software Pays Off

Organizations that test software applications while they are under development should find defects before actual implementation, says Melinda Ballou, program director for application life-cycle management at research firm IDC. As a result, these companies are likely to save money because it’s more expensive to fix problems later on when programs become more complex.

There are two main types of software testing: functional testing (to make sure the various features of the application perform as they should), and load or stress testing (to make sure the application functions when hundreds or even thousands of people are using it at the same time).

Most important, companies stand to benefit from the smooth operation of applications used by customers. If these applications go down or lose functionality, the results can include lost revenue, dissatisfied customers and damage to the company’s reputation.

The benefits, while obvious, can be difficult to measure. “It depends on how critical the application is for the organization and when the failure happens,” Ballou says.

While companies generally do some functional testing before using applications, many skip the load-testing phase. That usually happens when development is behind schedule and there is pressure to get the application running, Ballou says.

Given the risks of application downtime or sluggish performance—and the potential benefits of reliable service—thorough functional and load testing of software makes a lot of business sense.