The £650,000 hidden cost of business applications

There are more than £650,000 of hidden costs in the average business application, according to a new study by software analysis and measurement firm CAST.

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There are more than £650,000 of hidden costs in the average business application, according to a new study by software analysis and measurement firm CAST.

The first annual CAST Worldwide Application Software Quality Study (http://www.castsoftware.com/Resources/Research-Labs.aspx) analysed 288 enterprise IT applications from 75 companies throughout a variety of industries.

The CAST study considered the cost of fixing a "conservative number" of problems that remain in an application once it is operational. This cost, often referred to as "technical debt", is a primary contributor to an application’s cost of ownership.

The study found that correcting code errors in a typical enterprise application (containing an average of 374,000 lines of code) cost $2.82 per line or $1,055,000 in total (around £665,000).

And more serious for the public sector, CAST found that government applications suffered from less changeable code, up to 25% less changeable than the best-in-class applications built for IT sector organisations. The less changeable code is the more expensive it is to complete successful IT projects.

Bill Curtis, CAST chief scientist, said, “The purpose of the study is to provide an objective, empirical foundation for discussing the structural quality of IT applications, and the extent to which IT applications are free from structural flaws that cause problems such as outages, performance degradation, security breaches, and data corruption.”

Gartner analyst Matt Hotle said, “We’ve long had the ability to benchmark applications at the project and process level. What’s been missing is an industry look at the underlying technical quality of applications, a key driver of those higher-level productivity, cost and risk factors.”

Hotle said, "Data of this nature should prove valuable to organisations looking at issues such as application portfolio management and vendor lock-in.”

Outsourced software is a hotspot for the sort of hidden security problems that leave applications vulnerable, revealed an analysis by code testing company Veracode earlier this month.

In the CAST study, 75% of the government applications were outsourced.