QA Neglect: The Silent Killer of Software Projects

Last year I jumped on a mini audit of a popular mobile app. I found that a lot of stuff wasn’t working well. There were a few bugs, some technical and performance issues, UX conundrums and I also recommended some minor UI tweaks. If the application was going to grow or continue to be successful many of these issues would need to be addressed.

I was surprised when the audit was ignored but moved on to other projects.

What ensued was probably one of the worst relaunches of a product I’ve ever seen. The ‘new’ app contained none of the recommendations outlined but worse it seemed to now lack any of the pre-existing functional requirements.

It transpired that the QA (Quality Assurance) team were absent during this release. What was delivered to market led to a neverending stream of 1* app reviews as the product literally fell apart. It became unusable.

In this post I discuss why you should never skimp on testing and provide a few other examples where consequences can make or break a product. In the case of the example here the app is still a complete disaster months after launch and I doubt the organisation will be able to recover. Some tough lessons there!

The role of QA stands as an indispensable cornerstone for delivering successful products. From averting catastrophic failures to enhancing user experience, QA forms the bedrock upon which the entire software delivery lifecycle is built.

Why QA Matters

QA is essentially the process of ensuring that the software being developed meets specified requirements and standards. It encompasses a range of activities including testing, debugging, code reviews, and performance optimisation. While some may perceive QA as merely a final checkbox before release, its significance permeates every stage of development, from ideation to deployment.

1. Preventing Costly Failures: One of the most compelling reasons for prioritising QA is its ability to prevent costly failures down the line. Consider the case of the infamous Mars Climate Orbiter, where a unit conversion error led to a mission failure costing NASA $327.6 million. Such catastrophic failures could have been averted with rigorous QA practices in place.
2. Enhancing User Experience: Quality goes beyond functional correctness; it extends to user experience. Imagine a banking application with a flawless backend but a clunky, unintuitive interface. Users are unlikely to engage with such a product, leading to loss of customers and brand reputation. QA ensures that not only does the software work as intended, but it also delights users through seamless interactions.
3. Maintaining Brand Reputation: Brand reputation can make or break a company. A single bug or glitch can quickly snowball into a PR nightmare, tarnishing years of hard-earned reputation. Recall the case of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, where software manipulation led to a massive dent in the company’s credibility. Comprehensive QA could have detected such discrepancies early on, potentially averting the crisis. I still love VW products but this did tarnish my opinion of the motor trade in general. With regards to the first app example I highlighted, the PR fallout was a disaster. Users abandoned the product in droves and took to the stores to write scathing reviews – even at times calling out the fact that no QA had been present.

Real-World Examples

1. Apple’s iOS Updates: Apple, renowned for its stringent quality standards, emphasises QA in every aspect of its product development. However, even giants like Apple are not immune to QA oversights. In 2014, the iOS 8.0.1 update caused widespread issues, including loss of cellular service and Touch ID functionality. This blunder not only inconvenienced millions of users but also dented Apple’s reputation for reliability.
2. Toyota’s Unintended Acceleration: The automotive industry witnessed a QA nightmare in the early 2000s when Toyota faced allegations of unintended acceleration in several models. Investigations revealed software glitches as one of the contributing factors. The ensuing recalls, lawsuits, and damage to brand equity serve as a stark reminder of the repercussions of lax QA practices.


The product world is unforgiving. Not only has the bar risen so much over the past few years (in terms of UX, UI and speed) but it is almost unacceptable that a launch should be ridden with bugs. The importance of Quality Assurance cannot be overstated. From averting catastrophic failures to enhancing user satisfaction, QA permeates every facet of the software delivery lifecycle. As product managers and developers, prioritising QA isn’t just about meeting deadlines; it’s about safeguarding brand reputation, fostering customer trust, and ultimately ensuring the success of our products in the long run.

By investing in robust QA processes, companies can mitigate risks, enhance product quality, and stay ahead. Remember – your growth plans can be shut down immediately with a bad release.

Quality isn’t an option; it’s an imperative.