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  • Yana Beeker

The Cost of Client-Driven QA

One of the first questions I’ll ask a CTO or a CEO is, “Who is doing your QA now?”

More often than not, the answer is pretty predictable. Something like, “I do some of it, the devs do some of it, but our clients do a lot of the final testing.” Usually followed by a laugh because they know it’s less than ideal.

Sometimes I’m hit with, “We used to have full-time internal QA, but we lost the budget and got rid of them.”

Why! Are! We! Doing! This!

At first glance, it may seem practical — cutting costs where it seems least impactful. I get it. After all, QA teams are often seen as a luxury instead of a necessity. They don’t write code, or fix code, so why invest in them? But relying on clients to spot bugs can cost far more than just financial setbacks. It undermines client trust, ruins your reputation, and can lead to significant financial losses down the line.

Client Dissatisfaction

Your client is giving you their business because they trust you to create a quality product. They expect a polished, functional product, not something that feels like it’s still in beta. According to a study by Tricentis, poor software quality was responsible for a financial impact of $2.84 trillion in the US alone in 2018. Like it or not, there is a dent in your reputation when clients encounter bugs and issues that should have been ironed out during development.

When clients find bugs, it feels like a betrayal of their trust. They start questioning your competence, your dedication to quality, and your respect for their time and investment. This is not just about one project, but the long-term relationship with your client and their willingness to continue working with you or recommending your services to others.

You Are Losing Money

IBM did a study on the relative cost of fixing bugs depending on where in the development cycle they’re found. The cost to fix an error found after product release is about 6.5 times more expensive than one uncovered during design, and 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase. That means 100 times more when your client finds a bug. Bring QA into design and planning meetings, and this cost virtually disappears.

But the financial implications go further than the immediate cost of fixing bugs. When clients encounter issues, they may demand discounts, refuse to pay, or take legal action for breach of contract. All these scenarios lead to lost revenue and increased costs.

Damage to Brand Reputation

Let's say you launch a product riddled with bugs — clients are frustrated, support tickets flood in, and your brand reputation takes a hit. According to Applause, 48% of users are less likely to use an app again if they experience performance issues. This means fewer returning customers and a tarnished brand image.

In this age of social media, news about buggy software spreads fast. One dissatisfied client can easily share their experience online, leading to negative reviews and public complaints. People don’t really fact check anymore either. Regardless of how severe the bug is, the new spreads, and the world runs with it. This not only affects your current project but also deters potential clients from considering your services in the future. Your brand reputation is one of your most valuable assets; don’t risk it by cutting corners on QA.

Competitive Edge

Companies with strict QA processes can release higher quality products faster and more reliably. Take, for instance, Apple or Google—these companies have dedicated QA teams ensuring their products meet the highest standards. Contrast this with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 situation, where insufficient QA led to a global recall and damaged their reputation.

When you consistently deliver high-quality products, you build a reputation for excellence that attracts more clients. Conversely, if your competitors are known for better quality due to their QA processes, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to compete. Investing in QA is not just about avoiding negative outcomes; it’s about positioning yourself as a leader in quality and reliability.

Benefits of Having a Dedicated QA Team

Early Detection and Prevention of Bugs

Dedicated QA teams catch bugs early in the development process, long before they reach your client. Early detection also allows for a more proactive approach to quality. When QA is involved from the beginning, potential issues can be anticipated and mitigated before they become major problems. This leads to a more stable and robust product, reducing the likelihood of critical failures post-release.

Improved Product Quality and Customer Satisfaction

High-quality products lead to satisfied customers. McKinsey found a strong correlation between high-quality software and customer satisfaction. When your product works seamlessly, your customers are happy, leading to positive reviews and repeat business.

Satisfied customers are more likely to become advocates for your brand, recommending your products and services to others. This word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable, especially today, and can significantly boost your company’s reputation and revenue. On the other hand, customers who experience frequent issues are unlikely to recommend your services, which can stifle growth and harm your market position.

Efficient Use of Resources

Integrating a QA team streamlines the development process. Instead of scrambling to fix bugs post-release, your team can focus on innovation and improvements. Companies like Microsoft and Amazon have shown that investing in QA can lead to more efficient development cycles and better overall product quality.

An efficient QA process also means that developers spend less time on bug fixes and more time on developing new features and improvements. This not only enhances the product but also boosts team morale, as developers can focus on creative and productive tasks rather than firefighting issues.

Case Studies and Real-World Examples

Successful Companies with Strong Dedicated QA

Look at companies like Microsoft and Amazon. They have robust QA teams that verify their products are reliable and user-friendly. These companies invest heavily in QA, which translates to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Companies that Suffered from Lack of Dedicated QA

On the flip side, consider the infamous launch. The highly anticipated site was riddled with issues because proper QA processes were not in place. The result? A public relations nightmare and fixes that could have been avoided with a dedicated QA team.

Another example is Slack’s outage in 2020, coinciding with the global shift to digital communication due to Covid-19. The popular workplace communication tool experienced a widespread outage that affected users worldwide. This disruption prevented access to critical messages and channels, exposing vulnerabilities in Slack’s platform stability and performance. With more rigorous internal QA processes, including comprehensive testing of system updates and changes, Slack might have detected and resolved these issues before they significantly impacted users.

Implementing an Effective QA Strategy

Building a Skilled QA Team

Hire skilled QA professionals who understand the nuances of your product. A well-trained QA team is worth it. They bring a level of expertise and attention to detail that is huge for identifying and addressing potential issues before they impact the end-user.

Invest in continuous training and development for your QA team to keep them updated with the latest tools, techniques, and best practices. This enhances their skills and also guarantees they are motivated and engaged in their roles.

Integrating QA into the Development Process

Integrate QA asap into your development lifecycle. Have them in on ideation and design planning, through to deployment.

Adopt an Agile approach where QA is part of every sprint, working alongside developers to make sure each iteration of the product is tested comprehensively. This collaborative approach helps enable better communication and a shared commitment to quality across the entire team.

Addressing Common Concerns and Misconceptions

Cost of QA

Yes, there are costs associated with maintaining a dedicated QA team. However, the long-term benefits significantly outweigh these costs. Investing in QA reduces the risk of costly post-release fixes and protects your brand reputation.

Think of QA as an investment in your product’s success rather than an expense. The return on investment comes in the form of higher customer satisfaction, reduced support costs, and a stronger market position. In the long run, the cost of not having a QA team can be much higher.

Perceived Slowness of Development

Some fear that QA slows down the development process. The truth is, proper QA processes can speed up development in the long run by preventing costly rework and ensuring a smooth deployment.

By identifying and addressing issues early, QA helps maintain a steady and predictable development pace. This prevents the chaos and delays that often accompany post-release bug fixes and emergency patches. A well-planned QA process is integral to maintaining a fast and efficient development cycle.

Invest in Dedicated QA Resources

Steer away from client-driven QA. Invest in a QA team, be it outsourced or in-house, and you’ll see the benefits in product quality, customer satisfaction, and team morale. Prioritize QA for better products and long-term success. You want your clients to receive the best possible product, free from the frustrations of avoidable bugs and issues. By committing to a strong QA strategy, you can build stronger, more reliable products and lasting trust with your clients.


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