As development teams ship faster than ever, each release carries an increased risk of shipping bugs. And those bugs can lead to reduced user satisfaction, decreased sales and even customer churn. In fact, software defects cost the US economy an estimated $59.5 billion every year — half of which could have been prevented with better testing practices.

In our recent webinar,The True Cost of Shipping Defects: Find Bugs Before Your Customers Do, Rainforest front-end engineer AJ Funk and product operations associate Cameron Sheya came together to discuss how and why teams should start building a strategy to stop bugs before they ship.

Software Defects are Expensive — and Not All Bugs Are Created Equal

The longer it takes your team to find bugs, the more expensive they are to fix. According to one study by IBM, the cost of fixing a bug during development is around 6x more expensive than the same bug found in the design phase — and bugs found in testing are 15x more expensive to fix than those found in during development.  A bug in production not only runs the risk of being found and reported by a customer, but also pulls more of your team away from other tasks to address it — from customer support reps and QAs to developers and PMs.

There are many factors that go into the cost and severity of a bug, so it can be hard to estimate the cost of any individual bug before it happens. Cameron and AJ outlined just a few of the often hidden factors that complicate the process of dealing with bugs. For example, because the time required to diagnose and fix bugs is hard to estimate, it can be difficult to know ahead of time just how much developer time and resources will be lost in order to fix a bug.

Why Exploratory Testing is Key for Reducing Bugs in Production

While having a good strategy for triage is important, Cameron noted that the best way to reduce the cost and time required to deal with bugs in production is to reduce the number of bugs in production in the first place. That’s where having a good strategy around exploratory testing is extremely useful.  As long as your regression testing workflow is streamlined and automated, exploratory testing is where you want your QA team to spend their time.

Exploratory testing requires minimal planning/overhead and maximizes time spent on actual testing and bug finding. However, it does require a human tester to hunt for bugs. During the webinar, Cameron demonstrated how Rainforest’s exploratory testing functionality can help teams easily execute exploratory testing at scale without dedicating additional headcount to the task.

Building a Better QA Strategy in 90 Days

A strong QA strategy often means the difference between bugs slipping into product. To make sure that your testing process can keep up with your quality goals, you might need to rethink your approach to QA. Download our free guide, 90 Days to Better QA, for advice from development experts on how to design a QA process that prevents bugs from reaching customers and builds confidence in product quality every time you ship.