Why (Or When) Should I Pay for Bugs?

Bugs are a common part of most software projects, unfortunately.  And even the most careful companies - with almost unlimited resources - can fall foul of them. 

Does anyone remember Bill Gates’ hitting a Blue Screen Of Death during a live Windows 98 demo?

Or when the Mars Orbiter was essentially flown into Mars, due to a bug causing a 90-mile error? 

I’d love to include the “unbreakable” Tesla truck window fiasco too, but I probably can’t assign that to a software bug. (It was fun to watch, though.)

The point is - software bugs are a fact of life, and they can be very hard to eradicate entirely. 

There are ways to lessen them, certainly.  NASA generally does a great job, as Fast Company pointed out.. “What makes it remarkable is how well the software works. This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free.”

So how did they do it? You should read that article because it’s fascinating, but one takeaway is that they demand massive amounts of requirement documentation - 40,000 pages in fact. 

But, to use a related metaphor, let’s come back down to earth for a second.

No Free Lunches

Inventive is in the business of writing software for you too, but with a lot less rigor.  We wish it wasn’t so, but it’s true, and you know it. Let’s talk about it candidly. 

It’s simply a matter of budget - you’re not NASA. 

You want us to Get Shit Done, Brilliantly, in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable budget.  And then, because we hit the mark, perhaps you’ll ask us to do some enhancements in a future phase - enhancements that your real customers demand. Rinse and repeat. Get it out there in front of real customers, then iterate. 

There are certainly levers we can pull.  Nowadays we recommend a Discovery phase to get a deeper understanding of your requirements, plan the architecture, build a low fidelity prototype or wireframe, and create a detailed backlog to estimate from. Just not 40,000 pages worth. 

And we can use automated testing to help test your system and find bugs as part of the build process.  But don’t expect 100% code coverage or zero bugs.  We all have constraints, and budget is a real one.  

Here’s another way to look at this - let’s say that the first 100 bugs we find are going to cost $100,000 to find and fix. Would you like that added to your MVP phase - or into a subsequent support and maintenance phase?  

What About A Warranty Period?

Candidly (candid is how we roll), most clients don’t want us to increase the cost of phase 1 to build bug-free solutions, which is what we’d have to do to offer a warranty period for bug fixing. 

Instead, we spread out the cost of bug fixing over future time-and-material phases - lowering your initial costs, getting to market quicker, and providing you more value. 

If you are looking for that development team who will Get Shit Done, Brilliantly, taking your product to the next level, and effectively managing those pesky bugs, let’s chat! Inventive has seen and done it all, and we know just what to do to make that happen.