Posts Tagged ‘Quality Central’

Quality is Job #1?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Today I got frustrated by XE2 rewriting the DPR source file when switching between 64 and 32 bit Windows targets.  Eurekalog doesn’t compile yet for Win64, so I added a conditional directive around that unit in the DPR source.  When XE2 undid my change, I turned to Quality Central to see if one of my numerous reports regarding conditional compilation issues has been addressed.  I use the Windows QC Client even though it’s a very old style MIDAS type interface which isn’t the most intuitive, at least it works (including voting).

The windows QC Client has been around forever, yet strangely, it’s still version 1.

QC for Windows About Box

QC for Windows About Box

This got me thinking about how many updates I’ve produced over the last year on my current project alone.  We started the year with version 3.0.0.0 and are up to 3.2.0.7.  That means some significant changes to an already mature product.  To get an idea of how my reports were progressing, I took a look at my user stats:

My User Stats

My User Stats

The submission information really doesn’t give much insight.  For instance, it doesn’t indicate the average age of a report that is open or closed, and doesn’t even give counts of the number of reports marked as not reproducible, duplicate, fixed, or still languishing in the reported state.  A lot more could be done for this dialog alone (charts anyone?).

Since I didn’t understand the difference in the Voting group between Total and Total Votes (they are after all in the same group box, so what else could Total refer to, but the total # of votes), I thought I would check out the help.  Choosing Help - Quality Central Web Site from the menu takes you to the main QC Website where it says Embarcadero Developer Network on the banner graphic, but there are still numerous references to CodeGear.  How long has it been since EMB bought CodeGear?  Oh yeah….thanks Google…8 May 2008….about 4 years ago now.

I decided to check out the general help for the QC Windows client even though it has not been updated since John Kaster did so on December 15, 2006.  It’s contents are meager one page, and there is a comment from Kris Kumler on Jan 22 2009 politely asking for the missing content to be added.  Of course, the User Stats information I was looking for isn’t present.

It’s been my experience that both people and companies spend their time on things that are important to them.  They often say one thing, and do something else, so watching what they do gives the most accurate picture of what they feel is important.  It’s also been my experience that once an application hits the streets, users find issues that even the best internal testing misses.  In order to produce a better product, you need as much accurate feedback from users as possible and using state of the art tools to collect as much information as timely as possible is paramount.

We use Eurekalog to capture error reports, and a ticketing system for users to submit enhancement reports.  I’ve found Eurekalog reports to be indispensable in figuring out how to reproduce a problem because users are often unable to communicate what they were doing that lead to the problem, sometimes due to a lack technical knowledge, or an understanding of what information is useful.  Sometimes they simply don’t care enough to spend their time to help you.   That’s why I envy EMB’s position; having highly technical people provide bug reports, and willing to spend their time to try to get it fixed because they use the tool daily and it’s important to them.

So why is it then that the oldest of my QC reports have been in the Reported state since 1/24/2007?  My oldest Delphi related report still in a Reported State with no comments is 7/22/2011.

I used to oversee a support department of 3 technical support representatives that supported 5 different medical billing and practice management solutions.  I personally reviewed the support call logs, acted as second level support, engaged development to address issues, and even called random clients to inquire about the quality of the support they received.  If I would have let support issues get 5 years or even a year old without addressing them, I would have been let go.

I would rather pay a support fee, than a maintenance fee that guarantees a new product version.  Support fees mean issues get fixed in a timely fashion instead of packing more features dreamed up by marketing into the box.  How do you feel about QC?  Do you think your reports get the timely attention they deserve?  Do you think the QC processes are well documented and transparent?

BTW, Ford’s mantra is probably what saved them from needing a bailout, and resulted in their recovery from hard times…  The economic value of investing in quality has been repeatedly proven.