Survey Warns of Looming Software Testing Crisis


A survey of CEOs and IT professionals involved in application testing finds a significant gap in terms of how acceptable it is to release software that has not been properly tested.

The survey, conducted by the market research firm Censuswide on behalf of Leapwork, a test automation platform provider, polled 480 CEOs in the U.S. and the United Kingdom (UK) from organizations with more than 500 employees and 480 heads of quality assurance, testers, release and delivery managers and site reliability engineers (SREs).

A full 85% of the CEOs in the U.S. and 69% in the UK said it’s acceptable to release software that hasn’t been properly tested, as long as patches are tested and applied later. Less than half of the IT professionals surveyed (49%) agreed. A full 94% of CEOs also said they’re confident the software released is tested regularly.

However, 79% of the IT professionals admitted that as much as 40% of software goes to market without sufficient testing. As a result, 68% of UK and 52% of U.S. IT professionals said their teams spend five to 10 days per year patching software.

The survey also made it clear that everyone involved is well aware of the risks that lack of testing creates. Nearly every CEO (95%) is concerned about losing their job in the wake of a software failure. Slightly more than three-quarters of the IT professionals (76%) surveyed have the same fear.

More than three-quarters of CEOs (77%) also noted that software failures have harmed their company’s reputation in the last five years.

Many organizations today assume that Agile development and DevOps best practices will enable them to apply patches quickly in the event an issue arises. The trouble is, in the absence of sufficient testing many of those organizations are essentially experimenting on end users.

Leapwork CEO Christian Brink Frederiksen said the primary reason so much software is not being properly tested is that most organizations continue to rely on manual testing processes that can’t keep pace with the rate at which applications are now being developed; one major factor is the use of low-code and no-code tools.

Of the IT professionals at organizations that release insufficiently-tested software, a full 40% cited underinvestment in test automation as a factor, with only 43% of respondents using some type of automation. Other reasons cited for the lack of appropriate testing included lack of time (34%) and increased rates of deployment (29%).

Just over a third of CEOs (34%) and about four in 10 testers (42%) whose companies use or develop in-house software that goes to market without being tested also cited a lack of available skilled developers. More than a third of CEOs (34%) also cited underinvestment in testing personnel.

At a time when more organizations than ever are dependent on software to drive digital business transformation initiatives, it’s apparent that an application testing crisis is imminent. The only thing left to be determined is how catastrophic the fallout will be because existing processes don’t scale to meet the challenge.