Calculating Costs of a Software Error-Prevention System

How to move from detecting software errors to preventing them. Five steps to take.

You’re the nation’s sixth-largest bank, with 70,000 employees, $300 billion in assets, $12 billion in revenue and $3 billion in income. So that pesky little $2 million bug in your transaction-processing software is a drop in the bucket, right?

Think again. Today’s $2 million software bug can morph into a $200 million embarrassment as easily as a poorly tested program can misplace a decimal point. Software errors cost as much as $60 billion annually, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a unit of the U.S. Commerce Department, and errors in mission-critical systems can reach a business-crippling magnitude that may permanently destroy your credibility.

It’s time to change your approach. Correcting known software bugs is simply plugging holes in the dike. To be truly secure, you need to get out of error detection and get into error prevention. No mere semantics, this will mean overhauling your software-development methodology, retraining staff and implementing automated error-prevention tools.

Plan on taking six months to get the new approach in place. You’ll need a software-quality consultant to guide the process, starting with a three-day boot camp to train your staff to anticipate software problems and master the new tools: sophisticated error-prevention middleware that tracks software activity and coding updates, monitors their interaction with essential databases and scans the entire corporate system for problems on a daily basis.

That will correct your $2 million transaction-processing bug and easily cover the project’s minimal investment. More important, your new methodology will help protect you against that eventual $200 million disaster.

To apply your own numbers to this planner, download the above PDF.