A study suggests software glitches cost the U.S. economy about US$59.5 billion a year, although better testing could prevent a third of that loss.

Costs are logarithmic; they increase in size tenfold as the time increases. A bug found and fixed during the early stages – requirements or product spec stage can be fixed by a brief interaction with the concerned and might cost next to nothing.

During coding, a suddenly marked mistake may take only very less effort to fix. During integration testing, it costs the paperwork of a bug report and a formally documented fix, as well as the delay and expense of a re-test.

During system testing it costs even more time and may postponement delivery. Finally, during operations it may cause anything from a trouble to a system failure, possibly with catastrophic consequences in a safety-critical system such as an aircraft or an emergency service.

Software bugs cost the U.S. economy an estimated US$59.5 billion annually, or approximately 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product, according to a study published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) a national agency that develops and promotes measurements, standards, and technology across industries. More than half of the costs are shouldered by software users; the rest fall on software developers/vendors.

According to the study, not all software errors are preventable, but more than a third of the losses (approximately $22.2 billion) could be avoided by an improved testing infrastructure that lets developers and vendors identify and remove software defects earlier and more effectively -- closer to the development stages in which they're introduced. Currently, most errors are discovered only later in the development process, or during post-sale software use.

NIST funded the study, which was conducted by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in North Carolina.

"More than half of the costs are borne by software users, and the remainder by software developers and vendors," NIST said in summarizing the findings. "More than a third of these costs … could be eliminated by an improved testing infrastructure that enables earlier and more effective identification and removal of software defects."

You can read the full report at:

Remember: True Quality Begins Long Before Testing
More than 80% of software errors have their roots in the beginning stages of the product life cycle (in the analysis and design planning phases) before a single line of software code is written. Unfortunately, most of these errors aren’t found until the typical testing stage at the very end of the development cycle, when the cost of repair and rework are extremely high—up to 50 times more expensive