The Economics of Software Testing: The Sunk Cost Fallacy

What is a sunk cost?

A cost that already has occurred and cannot be uncovered. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost

 

What is the sunk cost fallacy?

Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behaviour or endeavour as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Source: https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/sunk-cost-fallacy/)

Put simply, if you are continuing to do something because of the resources you have ALREADY committed to it, then you have fallen for the sunk cost fallacy.

Some non-work examples of the sunk cost fallacy that you may have fallen for or seen others fall for

People staying in a relationship that they are unhappy in because they had already spent several months/ years with that person (the several months/years is the sunk cost)
 

How does the sunk cost fallacy apply to testing? 

Continuing with a certain test automation set up that may no longer provide really value to your project – just because a lot of time and effort has already been invested in your test automation framework in the past.

Continuing with a test case management tool that is not providing value, just because the money has already been spent on it.

Remember:

Don’t let the time, effort and money spent in the past, dictate what you should do in the future. Focus on what would benefit you now and going forward – and take action based on that.

More posts on The Economics of Software Testing:

Opportunity Cost

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

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