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Chapter 4. Involving Customers with Iter... > Fixing Errors While They're Still In...

Fixing Errors While They're Still Inexpensive and Easy to Fix

Why is it important to fix errors as early as possible? It has been well documented in many disciplines that fixing errors in later phases of design can be expensive. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright said it best: “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site.” In the realm of software development, a general rule of thumb is that errors cost about ten times more effort and money to fix late in the process than if they are caught in an earlier phase. Watts Humphrey and others in the field of software engineering have even documented costs on the order of 100 to 1,000 times more effort and money to fix problems after deployment.

Why does it cost so much to make downstream changes? There are three reasons: (1) All the deliverables generated in later phases of design have to be made consistent with the proposed changes. (2) Sometimes one change forces other changes to be made so that everything will work correctly. (3) Most importantly, anything that causes a change in the software source code and HTML is expensive. Think about the time to change a simple sketch versus the time to rewrite the code that implements the ideas in the sketch.


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