Three quarters of organisations (77%) claim that testing is an essential investment when deploying new technology, but more than half (55%) admit they do not have a consistent approach to software testing.

Only a further 31% consistently allocate a separate testing budget, according to research released today by SQS, the independent European software testing and quality management consultancy. But 41% feel their testing is inefficient and 46% admit they find it difficult to know when they have done enough testing.

The survey of 250 mid-sized organisations across England, Ireland and South Africa, carried out by Coleman Parkes Research, showed widespread acceptance of the crucial role testing plays in the IT development lifecycle, but revealed a lack of genuine commitment to the process, particularly when it comes to actual investment.

The survey said this lack of consistency and investment in testing and quality assurance is costing organisations dearly. Over half (60%) reported there have been occasions in the last two years where a lack of testing had cost the company significant money, yet nearly half never set aside budget for testing within the development process.

Nearly one third (32 per cent) say that too many of their products fail when they go live due to poor testing; nearly one in five said this is nearly always a problem. 46 per cent experience significant extra costs in live production due to inadequate testing.

"This research reveals that organisations are increasingly aware of the critical importance of software testing, but often fall short when it comes to delivering consistent, high-quality testing at an enterprise-wide level," said David Cotterell, chief executive of SQS Group.

"There is still a lack of financial support, and in many cases strategic expertise, which is having a direct impact on the bottom line for many major organisations," he said.

New regulations such as EC directive MiFID are having a significant impact on technology deployments, with 57% of companies reporting that compliance is driving the need to be more rigorous in testing. Only one quarter (27%) believe that regulatory compliance has had no impact on their testing procedures.