Most Expensive Software Failures in History

It is hard to imagine in today’s digital era, but software failures can cost organisations millions, sometimes with catastrophic results. Unfortunately, these failures can be put down to bugs within the IT system which is used for software testing and checking for errors.


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According to the Telegraph, there have been a number of software flops during the last couple of decades that could potentially have cost the designers not only their reputation but money too. Was this simply due to the idea not catching on, or were there flaws in the software design? Some of these could have been ironed out by a software testing service, but what about expensive software failures that hit the headlines?

NHS IT System

Labelled as one of the ‘worst fiascos ever’, a failed NHS IT System which began in 2002 to eliminate the need for handwritten records cost the taxpayer billions, with contractual issues and technical problems spanning the course of the project. It was eventually abandoned by the government, although even today we still don’t know the total cost of abandoning the project.

Pentagon F-35 Fighter Jet

A report revealed a long list of potentially lethal problems within the software of this fighter jet. The problems have ranged from ejector seats that can kill to on-board computer systems that pilots are unable to log into. The cost to date is nearly four billion dollars, and the project is now running eight years late.

NASA’s Mars Orbiter

On a mission to Mars, this was lost in space and the cost to NASA was at least the value of the 125 million dollars that the Orbiter was worth. It was due to a simple mistake of not converting Imperial units to metric. This could have easily been picked up by using a company such as, who offer crowdsourced software testing from around the globe using professional software testers.


Most of us living through the early 21st century will remember the many news reports regarding the Child Support Agency (CSA). It had a highly complex IT system that clashed with the Department for Works and Pensions’ software. This resulted in irreversible errors that ended up overpaying nearly two million people. Worse still, there was seven billion pounds stuck within the system in uncollected payments. A complete software disaster!