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Software Testing Accounts to What Percent of Development Cost?

Find out how much it costs and how long it takes to test your software.

If performed properly, software testing is the key to achieving the level of quality that corresponds to your expectations and gives you the perfect market-ready product within the budget and time constraints of your project. Testing is exactly what you think it is – it is a process of checking all the aspects of the software’s functioning to collect the information and identify flaws and possible bugs for their subsequent fixing. It is an imperative part of the development process since the code is written by humans, and human error is always a possibility, which is why it is a good idea to double-check that code and eliminate all the possible frictions in the functioning of the final product. There are two main types of software testing – manual and automated.

Manual Software Testing

As the term suggests, manual testing refers to the type of testing in which the Quality Assurance experts manually test software solutions to find bugs. To make that process efficient and comprehensive, QA experts do not simply mimic the user’s interaction with the application, they follow a strict plan that describes a number of unique interaction scenarios. They record their findings in a standardized form and deliver their reports to the project managers and developers so that they could fix all the possible issues.

Automated Testing

Automated testing is a process of ensuring the quality of software using a different kind of software that controls the execution of tests and compares the actual outcomes of interactions to the expected outcomes. There are different approaches to test automation with graphical user interface testing and API-driven testing being the most widely spread. Thanks to automated testing, QA experts can schedule and run regular tests throughout the development process which helps find and eliminate issues on the go.

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You wouldn’t want to omit the testing part of the development process. Naturally, the question of software testing accounts to what percentage of software development cost is the one to raise some eyebrows among the clients. Today, we are going to take a closer look at what testing is and what role it plays in your projects to determine what percent of the time is needed for testing software and how much it will cost you.

Why Software Testing is Important

Would you buy and drive a car that hasn’t been properly tested for performance and safety by the manufacturer? I guess you wouldn’t, and that is exactly the case with custom software – you must be sure it runs properly and deliver the results you’ve paid for. Quality assurance experts are the people directly responsible for performing testing the software solutions to achieve the level of quality that satisfies clients’ needs. Not only that; QA experts help make sure the project does not go beyond its budget and timeline constraints because of the errors in the code and other issues related to the development process.

The quality of the software you release to the market and present to your customers is one of the main factors defining its commercial success. While you surely want your product to be perfect, you cannot afford to lose too much time and money testing it. That is exactly why you need a team of truly professional quality assurance experts who can get the job done fast. You do not want to release a raw product that has tons of bugs in it and gives your users more headaches than actual results, and proper quality testing is the answer to that problem.

At this point, you might ask: what percent of the time is needed for testing software? It depends on many factors, but judging from our own experience of providing custom software development services to clients across industries, testing can take anywhere from 20% to 40% of the total development timeline. To figure out exactly what happens during that time, you might want to take a closer look at the whole process.

Software testing time estimation

Speaking from experience, to determine the time it would take to test the software, we start by decomposing the tasks and figuring out the scope of the entire project. If we are talking about a small, single-component application, the testing will take just about 20% of the entire development timeline and more complicated apps with graphical user interface (GUI) take longer to test and testing might take up to 40% of the total development timeline. Of course, each project is unique in its own ways and as we employ an agile approach to each project, we can expect some fluctuations in those numbers.

To give you a more accurate estimation, we employ a task decomposition method based on your requirements and expectations. The goal here is to align the testing with the rest of the development process and break it down into smaller bite-size chunks so that we can easily move from one to another while making sure we do our best job at every step of the way.

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Generally, we break it down into five interconnected stages:

  1. General process planning that includes gathering your requirements and conducting the research to establish a proper understanding of the project’s goals and the means to achieving those goals.
  2. Test plan and case development that derives from the strategy established throughout the previous stage. Usually, we develop five or more test cases to each of the project requirements to make a better estimation and ensure thorough checking of each solution.
  3. Test environment configuration stage depends on the access to the necessary equipment and the configuration time. The longer it takes to install and configure the necessary equipment, the longer it will take for the QA experts to test it. For a middle-sized project, this process might take anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day of work.
  4. Test case performance and debugging after the initial trials might take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes for each case, and there can be hundreds of those depending on the size of the project. More so, the more bugs you have in your code, the longer it will take to identify the cause and fix it.
  5. Regression testing is conducted on different operating systems, which can take quite a while to perform. Sometimes, it is possible to use a system combination matrix to perform tests on several systems simultaneously. This can take anywhere from several days and up to a couple of weeks.

The deal with testing is that it occurs along and after the development process, and the two are closely intertwined and codependent. Let’s say you’ve estimated a development timeline of 4 months, this means that the testing timeline would take anywhere from 20 to 40% of that time. At the same time, the timely completion of the development stage depends heavily on whether the QA experts can do a good job on their part.

How Much Software Testing Cost?

As much as testing takes a percentage of the development timeline, the cost of software testing is a percentage of software development too. The cost would thus depend on the hourly rate and the number of testers involved in the project. The average median salary of QA specialists in the US is $95,554, which is just slightly lower than that of an average developer. When you hire outsource software developers, the price usually depends on their hourly rate, and considering what we’ve already established about the testing timeline, the cost of testing would be anywhere from 20% to 40% of the total development price. 

Of course, when you ask software testing accounts to what percent of development cost, you need to estimate your entire project budget. That way you would know that at least 20% of that money would go to testing. Usually, you would discuss the cost with the vendor before you sign the contract, and at that point, you will be able to estimate your budget and see it corresponds to your expectations.

Understanding how much time the testing takes is the key to knowing how much it would cost. That is why you must first discuss the development timeline with your vendor, figure out the composition of the dedicated software development team, how many testers will be present on the team, and then you’ll be able to estimate the cost of testing. With that knowledge in mind, you can now tell that the software testing takes up a considerable chunk of your overall budget, and rightfully so because you cannot really release untested software. You need to be sure your customers are getting the best possible version of your application because your profits depend on it, and you can only make that possible by running thorough and exhaustive tests.

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