How Much Does Poor Source Code Quality Cost?

Feb 1, 2024

To boost your bottom line, you must produce top-notch code and identify and fix all instances of low-quality code. Low-quality code refers to poorly written code containing bugs and readability issues, among other problems. Poor code quality can lead to various long-term consequences, such as workflow inefficiencies and software vulnerabilities, which can drain millions of dollars. According to a 2022 report by the Consortium for Information & Software Quality (CISQ), the cost of poor software quality in the U.S. has grown to at least $2.41 trillion.

Read to learn about low-quality code, its causes, and the costs of producing poor-quality code. You’ll also learn how Kiuwan can help improve your code quality.

💻 What Is Low-Quality Code?

Low-quality source code is clumsily written code that may cause communication and cybersecurity problems in the long run. Here are some patterns associated with low-quality code:

  • Vague, unclear, or inconsistent variable names can confuse other developers, resulting in poor communication, reduced efficiency, and a higher percentage of uncaught bugs. Instead, coders should utilize specific, meaningful, and contextual variable names for better code quality. For instance, using “fn” instead of “employeeName” can lead to poor-quality code. Similarly, inconsistent naming conventions in the same code base can reduce code quality. As such, it is essential to use consistent naming conventions throughout the codebase.
  • Long methods can make reading and maintaining code difficult. Coders should aim for concise code that is easy to read and maintain.
  • Overused design patterns can make the codebase bloated and more complicated to write, test, and maintain.
  • Non-idiomatic code without proper indentation, syntax, and excessive backtracking not only makes it difficult for others to understand, but also for code analysis tools to detect bugs.
  • High cyclomatic complexity usually leads to low-quality code. Cyclomatic complexity features numerous loops, decision points, and branches, making it harder for developer teams to understand, debug, and maintain the code.
  • Tightly coupled code is low quality and difficult to scale. Adding new components requires significant changes to the system, leading to more coding errors.

🤔 What Causes Low-Quality Code?

Teams are at a higher risk of producing low-quality source code when they code without standards and planning, set unrealistic deadlines, lack tech-business alignment, and fail to bake cybersecurity and fixes into every step of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Coding Without Standards and Planning

Developers tend to produce low-quality code when they start coding without planning and standards. This usually happens when teams skip the requirement analysis stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC) and begin coding without a clear foundation or architecture in mind. In such cases, teams may take shortcuts, resulting in tangled, tightly-coupled code that is difficult to understand and maintain.

Unrealistic Deadlines

Rather than motivating developers to work more efficiently, tight deadlines may lead them to compromise the quality of their work and rely on quick solutions to meet the deadlines. This often results in the creation of buggy code, which can have negative consequences such as poor product quality and user satisfaction.

Lack of Alignment With Business Goals

Teams should align their efforts with business goals to avoid producing low-quality code. Otherwise, team members may have conflicting opinions about the scope of a project, leading to scope creep or continuous growth in the project’s scope. This can cause delays and budget overruns and lead to low-quality products. Companies can avoid these issues by establishing proper control procedures.

💸 The Costs of Producing Poor-Quality Code

Poor-quality code doesn’t just make debugging and testing more difficult and time-consuming. It can also lead to a significantly lower bottom line and poorer user experience. 

Here are the main consequences of producing low-quality code.

Higher Staff Turnover

Dealing with poorly written code can be frustrating for developers and adversely affect their morale. It can also make it harder for them to meet deadlines, causing stress and demotivation. Over time, developers may seek more fulfilling and less frustrating work environments, leading to high turnover rates.

Higher Development Costs

Well-written code is easy to read and work with, whereas badly written code can lead to developers spending additional hours on debugging and reworking bugs. This can slow down the development process and significantly increase development costs.

Higher Maintenance Costs

After writing and deploying code, the project enters the maintenance phase of the SDLC. This requires the team to monitor the software to perform upgrades or repairs so the software works as designed. 

During this stage, maintaining low-quality code can often be costly. Not only does clunkily written code often require more fixes and updates, but ongoing maintenance can also drain resources. 

Increased Cybersecurity Risks

Poorly written code often contains more vulnerabilities, bugs, and loopholes that hackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. Cyberattacks can cause serious consequences such as data breaches, loss of valuable information, financial loss, intellectual property theft, and reputational damage. 

Poor User Experience

End-users of your software or application are among the first to experience the costs of low source code quality. Software with poorly written code is more prone to crashes, bugs, and slow performance, all of which can have a negative impact on the user experience and customer satisfaction.

🚀 How Kiuwan Can Help You Improve Code Quality

Traditionally, businesses valued development speed over code quality. However, this approach is no longer effective. In today’s highly competitive market, tech companies should prioritize code quality over speed. Otherwise, they are more likely to produce buggy and unresponsive software.

One of the best ways to improve code quality is through Kiuwan. Kiuwan is a powerful, end-to-end application security platform that improves code quality. We provide the following code improvement tools: 

Are you interested in learning more about improving code quality? Request your free trial of Kiuwan today.

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