• benfellows1

How to know when your startup should hire the first software tester

The golden rule to scaling an internal testing team for startups (in 500 words or less)

Quick experiment. Your startup is growing fast (claps), and you’re starting to feel there like there are warning signs that your software testing is slipping. Does this sounds a little like the position you’re in?

These warning signs might be:

1. Your founder is spending too much time testing

2. You have bottlenecks in the development cycle slowing down releases

3. Costs are becoming larger & harder to track

This one simple rule saved me A TON of time trying to decide when to pull the trigger of when I needed help.

The Golden Rule

For every 4 developers, have a full-time “resource” available.

Start by looking around and counting how many developers you currently have on the project.

Is 1, 2, 6, more? Do a quick calculation in your head of what that means for testing resource. Is it starting to make sense why you might see slipping quality?

Answer in the Data

It comes down to the numbers. The Consortium for IT Software Quality, recently published their report, The Cost of Poor Software Quality in the US: A 2018 Report. This study lays out that on average a software developer makes 100-150 errors for every thousand lines of code.

If you conservatively estimate that over the course of a month 2,000 lines of code are written between the four developers, or 125 lines a day, that leaves the tester with between 200-300 errors to find and log.

As the study points out, even if only 10% of these errors represent real threats to your software system, that still is 20-30 bugs that have to be identified& logged to avoid serious customer facing problems.

Across 4 developers, this means that conservatively there are 80-120 serious bugs to be identified & logged. This, if managed correctly, equates to about the workload of a single full-time testing resource.

I’d like to offer a slight caveat by saying, I believe that developers should be part of the QA process, particularly when it comes to Unit testing[BF1] . I’ve factored this into my workload assumption and if you have a QA engineer handing Unit testing, it may need to be adjusted.


As a startup founder you face a plethora of hazy decisions a day. It is a blessing to have these simple process rules to help guide decision.

Let 1 full-time testing resource to every 4 full-time developers guide your growth and save yourself of the headache & heartache of leaning the hard way!

What are your thoughts? Does this match your experience? Feel free to comment below!

Or feel free to reach out to me directly at ben@workwithloop.com!

Still not confident that you are ready to an internal resource? Checkout our evaluation of Outsourcing v. Part-time contractors.



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