Nearly 40 percent of organisations have suffered financial loss as a result of poor or no software testing. That's according to a survey sponsored by testing specialist, SQS Research.

The study also found that 55 percent of software was still giving problems two years after it was implemented, and not surprisingly, 89 percent of organisations found that poor testing could have a significant impact on company costs.

David Cotterell, CEO of SQS, said that organisations had become more aware of the importance of good testing and more were setting up independent test teams, separate from the development team. "Our current survey shows that 70 percent of organisations think it's important to have an independent test team, that's compared to 55 percent in our survey last year."

But he said that companies were still reluctant to devote adequate resources to testing. "You often find that a project is running late and companies try to get back on schedule by cutting testing time by not running the full test process."

Cotterell could understand some of the thinking. "In many ways, testing is a reluctant purchase. It's rather like putting petrol into your car, you don't want to spend the money but it's something that has to be done." However, he pointed out that it was often a false economy; "You can take a product like SAP, a thoroughly mature one, out of its box and introduce it into a large organisation and there could as many as 50 points of interaction that could cause problems."

One of the factors that has influenced the way that testing is now perceived is the growing importance of compliance. Cotterell said that the survey showed that 73 percent of companies agreed that regulatory changes were driving the need to be more rigorous in testing.

Cotterell said that the other growing trend was the increasing use of automated testing tools. According to the survey, 68 percent of organisations strongly believe that automation could deliver real return on investment. "There's a growing acceptance of automated tools," he said. "The take-up has doubled in a year - we are certain to see this number rise in the future," he added.

The survey was carried out by questioning IT professionals at 1,200 large organisations across Europe, Middle East and Africa.