The website healthcare.gov could have benefited greatly from website testing, this type of testing is referred to as software quality assurance. SQA (software quality assurance) is a lot like health insurance – it protects us from the risk of loss. Buggy software pales in comparison to a catastrophic injury or disease, but it is an illness none-the-less and one from which you may not easily recover.

Benjamin Franklin said it best; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nothing could be more true when it comes to SQA. When a piece of software or application is released to the general public, it is the moment of truth. Should any part of your site underperform, a typo uncovered, a bug is found or if some part of your software fails to serve its intended purpose, you’ve just cheated yourself and your target audience. As the old cliché goes, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Damages to your brand or reputation can take years to repair.  A simple typo most-likely won’t destroy your image, but a security breach of confidential client information may. Many of us are intimately aware of one large department store’s loss of customers’ credit information this past holiday shopping season.  The financial repercussions for a lack of SQA can be enormous. Not to mention the potential of a public relations nightmare.

Developers must ensure that the newly developed products meet certain performance, usability, security, compatibility and functional requirements.  These requirements must be met under normal as well as increased load conditions, across platforms and multiple browsers. It takes valuable time and resources to develop software applications, and the process typically takes place under the pressure of deadlines. This pressure can breed an environment where developers are so focused on meeting benchmarks that they do not have the time to fully invest in viewing their project from the end-users’ perspective. What’s more, developers are not end users, and therefore cannot take an objective view. In such a case, quality assurance provided by a reputable third party SQA firm is just what the doctor ordered.

Development companies are often reluctant to incur the extra upfront cost of hiring a third-party SQA firm. Such costs are not always thought of or budgeted for in a software development cycle. Ironically, outsourcing to an external SQA firm to audit software may be less costly than providing internal software quality assurance due to intermittent nature of the process and administrative costs.  SQA involves a lot of oversight and new procedures need to be developed to determine that software quality is correctly implemented. The overall life cycle cost of software is greatly reduced through SQA.  Software requires less modification if errors are discovered and fixed prior to implementation. Correcting errors after the software is released is always more costly. Poor customer satisfaction damages your brand and will ultimately drive customers away.

By being an advocate for the health of your product and getting that second opinion, you can ultimately reduce costs, and protect your brand from irreparable harm.

About the Author: Mike Wheaton oversees marketing for iBeta Quality Assurance, an independent software testing lab located in Denver, Colorado. For more information visit www.ibeta.com.