If there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s software. I’ve been involved in the Shareware Industry for 12 years, have attended the Shareware Industry Conference (SIC), and have worked directly with shareware developers on product development, design, and testing. Its one of the ways I made a transition from Manufacturing Quality to Software Quality back in the late 1990′s.
Recently, I saw a story on Computer World where users of the Mac virtualization software Parallels Desktop reported a number of problems in their support forums. Many of the issues, dealing with upgrading VM’s from version 3.x to 4.0, are really catastrophic to those users encountering them,
Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0, which the company released Nov. 11, has been blasted by some users on the company’s forums for troubles ranging from locked up virtual machine migrations and jumpy cursors to flaky Internet connections and slow performance once the upgrade is completed. Messages began to accumulate on the support forums soon after the upgrade hit the street.
So when I see a story like this, where multiple users are having a great deal of trouble with multiple features of an application I have to ask a couple-three questions (or so):
- What was the project plan like? – How many times did the End-Development Date slip? Did the End-QA Date move in like kind, or did QA get compressed?
- What was the QA Test Plan like? – What kind of scope creep was encountered? Was the QA plan able to accommodate it? How was robust were the test cases? What level of identified risk was presented to management? What was the final QA recommendation (to release or continue testing and delay release)?
While NONE of these questions are meant to point fingers at the company, I do have a problem with some of their policies…for example, they don’t monitor their support forums. After a version release, a retail software developer needs to monitor their forums, at least unofficially if not officially, to watch for reported issues and problems.
I could also say, but won’t, that I have a problem with the way the company’s CEO responded. He effectively said that a couple dozen [bad apples] upset customers have gotten a lot of unnecessary press by complaining, when his engineers have told him that there’s “no real problems.”
He answered his own question – “Happy customers don’t go to forums.”
I could say that…but I won’t.
I would have taken a different approach. Obviously there are some issues to resolve. I would have instead, acknowledged the customer’s concerns, indicated that the company would look into them, and respond with any appropriate statements and/or updates.
What do YOU think? Have you upgraded to PD 4.0? Have you bumped into any of the reported issues? If you’re a PD 4.0 user, do you feel like you’re part of the “testing team;” or are you satisfied with the product’s quality?
Why don’t you join us in the discussion and give us your thoughts?