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The computer bug: a prerequisite for the quality assurance of a custom software package 

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The term “computer bug” is usually frightening and for good reason; quickly, images of technological disasters with heavy financial consequences appear in our minds.  Yet “computer bugs”, far from being the exception, are generally the rule and represent the reality of any IT project, no matter how big or small.  A “bug-free” application, unless it has evolved into an extremely mature state over many years, does not exist for all practical purposes.

In fact, even computer giants are not spared. Steve McConnell, an influential person in the software industry, reports that for every 1,000 lines of code, there is a potential for 15 to 50 computer bugs. (source) In the same way, periodically, Windows, MacOS, IOS or Android, to name a few, receive updates to correct security flaws, broken functionalities or to apply various optimizations to the code in place.  Does this mean that this software, made by some of the best developers on the planet, is all bad?  To ask the question is to answer it.

Moreover, those who are put off by custom software development, under the pretext that it contains bugs when this is not the case with commercial solutions, should probably reconsider the question, when we know that a very popular software like WordPress must have received nearly 20 critical security updates in the last 3 years alone. (source)  

Generic application or 100% custom software, the situation is the same: computer bugs are here to stay, so you might as well get used to them.

Now that the myth of the “bug-free” application seems to have been debunked, one fact remains: computer bugs really do represent a technological, human and financial risk for any software user.  Fortunately, there are ways to limit the consequences of bugs, if they are not completely and systematically eradicated, and this is where the real solution to a situation inherent to all software development lies.

 

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1. Agile method, software testing operation and development infrastructure

In the first instance, good project planning plays a crucial role. At Openmind, our programmers work with the Agile methodology. This project management technique is structured and planned in order to validate the quality control of each of the segments/functions developed for the software design. Concretely, for each stage of software development (sprint or iteration), a test phase is involved in order to eliminate any computer bug that could affect the proper functioning of the developed segment/functionality. This procedure has the advantage of minimizing the presence of bugs that may be hidden throughout the software development process or, even worse, of continuing a development based on bases with unidentified shortcomings.

In addition, the involvement of a development infrastructure (framework) promotes the use of good practices. In other words, it ensures compliance with software design patterns. Throughout the development of the infrastructure, the programmer makes sure to standardize the software lifecycle and formalize an architecture adapted to the needs and reality of the company. In addition, the creation of teams dedicated to the project ensures more efficient and rigorous development, as well as better synergy among the stakeholders.

 

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2. Customer involvement throughout the software design process

Customer collaboration plays a crucial role in the detection of computer bugs. With the Agile method, the customer can interact with the software from the very beginning of development. Thus, this method allows the customer to make his own tests in the environment for which the software is intended. Not only does this approach favors the customer’s control of the software, his participation in each sprint/iteration makes it possible to validate and eliminate the presence of bugs detected using the software in the customer environment.  In this way, the typical discrepancies between the development environment of the IT company and the reality of the client are avoided, and therefore, the computer bugs that may result.

 

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3. Phased production deployment: the importance of a test phase prior to official deployment

In most cases, the newly implemented software replaces an existing process in the company. During the commissioning of the new software, a progressive go live promotes a better control of unforeseen events. When the new software is put into operation and despite the best precautions taken throughout the development process, it is very predictable that computer bugs will arise. This is why using the existing process in parallel will ensure the continuity of the company’s operations and avoid falling into emergency mode for the resolution of computer bugs. A progressive go live will allow the bug to be resolved in a structured and calm manner, which will considerably reduce the risk of introducing new ones. When a bug is dealt with in emergency mode, developers will focus on the functionality to be fixed and not on all the features involved.

Remember that with the Agile method, the software interacts from the very beginning in the customer environment. This method facilitates the transition, which will be less prone to computer bugs during its official deployment.

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4. Points not to be neglected after implementation

A custom software or application, designed with the Agile method, greatly reduces the presence of bugs once fully implemented by users. However, certain aspects must be taken into consideration by the customer to ensure that it works properly.

  • Plan a training period to maximize the proper use of the application so that users understand how it works and so that, once the application is delivered, “false bugs” related to a misunderstanding are not unnecessarily detected.
  • Plan a budget (approximately 10% of the project amount) dedicated to ongoing software improvements. If Microsoft or Google launches a new software or product and must, within days, weeks, and months of deployment, implement multiple patches, your IT provider will need to do the same.  This phase should be an integral part of the development of an application and not as an exception.

In programming, the appearance of computer bugs will always remain a delicate subject that unfortunately cannot be eliminated from the equation.  If computer bugs have such a bad press, it is because they are often treated in emergency mode because, throughout the development process, the probability of their existence has been consciously denied rather than considered. Nevertheless, it becomes reassuring when you involve a programming team that takes responsibility and does everything possible to ensure the proper functioning of the custom software. Do you have fears related to computer bugs? Don’t hesitate to talk about it with our project manager, who will explain the procedures established for dealing with computer bugs during a custom software development and implementation project in your company.

Article written by:

Mathieu Mérineau , Director of Web Operations

The field of technology and computing is an environment that has always fascinated me. For ten years now, I have been advising business managers and guiding them with the best possible solutions for their digital shift. Seeing the economic benefits when implementing new web and/or computer systems is what predisposes me to always offer an authentic service to our clients.

Contact me now >

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