Learning To Live With Bugs - InformationWeek

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01:07 PM
Rusty Weston
Rusty Weston

Learning To Live With Bugs

Consider that nearly every company that owns or operates commercial software will experience at least one bug, flaw, or glitch sometime this year. These bugs and flaws cost companies untold amounts of time and money to repair or replace. No matter their size or type, companies are unable to prevent such problems.

These are among key findings of an InformationWeek Research study of 800 business-technology professionals who share at least some management or administrative responsibility for their companies' portfolios of enterprise applications. In the What's Bugging Software Customers? study, 97% of software buyers concede that their companies have experienced one or more bugs or flaws in the past 12 months. It doesn't matter whether an in-house programming team or an IT vendor created the application--nobody's immune to experiencing problems.

Action PlanIn an era of diminishing resources, there's increased management sensitivity to wasting money. And clearly, dollars spent on software maintenance aren't otherwise available for investment in applications to help a business grow.

The study also finds that trust in software vendors is generally mediocre. Two out of three companies are prepared to ask their software vendors to fix inadequate software. However, a surprisingly high number of respondents--nearly two in five sites--say they're willing to let the vendor, in effect, get away with it by using their own programming team to solve the problem with vendor software.

What sort of software is rife with bugs? Among the sites struck by bugs in the past 12 months, two-thirds complain that their operating systems and desktop productivity applications have suffered from bugs or flaws. Half the sites say their application-development tools aren't immune to these errors, either. And surprisingly, one-third of sites say that their virus-protection software has experienced a bug or flaw of some kind.

Flaws are so unpredictable, too. They seem to strike when you least expect it, or least want it. Topping the list of common glitches: run-time errors, felt by three in four sites. Application incompatibility with new operating systems struck 68% of sites. And HTML and scripting errors hit one out of two sites.

Cynics may contend that business-technology professionals are conditioned to accept a certain amount of software failure. The fact that custom-built applications generally don't fare much better than commercially available applications means these professionals are used to forgiving themselves, too.

Is your company getting hit by software bugs? Join us at TalkShop (informationweek.com/talkshop) or send us an E-mail to the address below.

Rusty Weston
Editor, InformationWeek Research
[email protected]

Software Add-OnsSoftware: Product Or Service?
Business-technology professionals are divided over the conceptual and legal question of whether commercial software is primarily a product, a service, or both. The answer? It's viewed either as a product or a combination of a product and a service, but it's not merely a service. This approach to managing relationships with commercial software vendors doesn't appear to affect a company's experience with regard to bugs and flaws. From the vantage point of building, buying, or maintaining high-quality applications, however, the question of whether a customer is purchasing a product or a service is a distinction without apparent meaning.

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