Software Developers Strive For Better Quality

Vendors focus on earlier testing and satisfying customers.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 23, 2002

2 Min Read

As the demand for better software quality and performance rises, some vendors are investing in tools that test for quality and drafting contracts that tie price to customer satisfaction.

Synygy Inc., which makes software that tracks employee incentives and performance, spent $1 million on developer-testing software from Mercury Interactive, Parasoft, and Starbase. The goal, president and CEO Mark Stiffler says, is to make the company's developers more accountable for the software they create. Engineers will use the tools to test for and eliminate bugs during development, rather than wait for them to be addressed by a quality-assurance team. "I wanted to change the culture of the company's development organization from one of writing code and throwing it over the wall," Stiffler says. The new process should help Synygy reduce bugs and speed its development cycle, he says.

Meanwhile, Agile Software Corp., a developer of product life-cycle management software, unveiled a program earlier this month that ties payment for its software to customer satisfaction. The Guaranteed Business Results program involves working with customers to identify the business challenges they hope to address with Agile's software, coming up with a plan to tackle them, setting metrics for measuring how the goals are met, and evaluating whether those metrics were met upon implementation.

chartThe concept pleases Steve Hart, chief technology officer and VP of engineering at ViaSat Inc., a satellite communications equipment manufacturer. Hart says he chose Agile because of the quality of its software, but he likes the extra assurance of the new program.

Details of the contract are still being worked out, but payment involves a sliding scale depending on the success of each implementation milestone. ViaSat made a down payment for the initial implementation, but payments are spread out over a year. "This program helped us get through some of the negotiations quickly, because the basic principle is of risk and benefit sharing," Hart says. "We've bought big, expensive packages before where things haven't worked out and we're into legal hassles, or the vendor becomes less motivated because they already have your money."

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