The True Cost of a Software Bug

3 min readDec 2, 2022

The Systems Sciences Institute at IBM has reported that “the cost to fix an error found after product release was four to five times as much as one uncovered during design, and up to 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase.”

The cost of a bug goes up based on how far down the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) the bug is found. When a bug is found in production the code needs to go back to the beginning of the SDLC so the agile development cycle can restart.

What severe damage can cause if you ignore software testing:

  • You get lower-quality software.
  • Much higher direct costs (wages paid to people involved in the project, including QA team resources).
  • Increase in indirect costs.
  • (Examples of indirect costs are lighting, office space (if applicable), etc. If there is no testing at all, the indirect costs become very high. This is why you should start testing early in the development cycle.
  • Loss of customer trust and software provider brand image.
  • Losing your reputation can take you out of the business food chain for a long time.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… Nothing Happened

In 1962, NASA’s Mariner 1 was the first US attempt to send a spacecraft to Venus. Shortly after its launch, it veered off course due to a software bug. A NASA employee was forced to command the spacecraft to self-destruct. 18 million dollars exploded just because of the lack of a hyphen in the code.

What lesson did this story teach us?

One day under one of our posts, we read a comment that “The biggest cost of a bug comes from the hiring phase, when you hire the wrong guy, or do not hire the right one”.

And we totally agree with this. We feel that pain because we are always those guys who are helping with QA on projects. But we not only feel the pain, we have solutions to treat it. Or at least — warn you about it. If you want to know more about bug costs, you can message us here or follow this link and leave us your contact information. We will be happy to learn about your project and discuss how it can benefit from testing.




QATestLab is an international provider of independent QA and testing services with 15 years of cross-industry experience.