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Bug-Free-Software-development

December 23, 2017

Is it possible to write Bug-Free software for Software Quality?

I’ve been a software developer and manager for over 30 years and run Flint Hills Group as their CEO. I know from experience that bug-free software is possible BUT there is a huge cost for this level of Software Quality in both time and money. Most companies are not willing to pay the cost in time or project funds to achieve perfection. Often, this goal of perfection does not make sense for most businesses but many CEOs and business leaders do not understand that. AppleMicrosoftGoogle along with all big tech companies ship their products with hundreds of bugs each year. See how successful they are and how many people use their services! They do not ship perfect solutions but understand it does not make sense to do so.

Grace HopperThe term “bug” was first used by computer pioneer Grace Hopper who publicized the cause of a malfunction in the Mark II computer at Harvard in 1946. Operators traced an error in the computer system to a moth trapped in a relay. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. Thus the term “bug” was coined and used to this day to describe defects or unexpected behavior with computer software.

My first job after getting my computer science degree was at Boeing writing B-52 bomber avionics which delivered nuclear weapons. If ever there was a reason to write perfect code for Software Quality, this was it. We spent literally years writing and testing these solutions before they were put into combat. The cost of building and testing solutions were in the hundreds of millions of dollars when you add the costs spanning Boeing and the US Air Force. Most companies cannot afford do do this but who wants to find a bug while dropping a nuke! Crazy as it sounds, we still found bugs in the avionics software 1, 2 even 3 years after it was delivered to the Air Force and being used in combat.

Many books and articles have been written on the subject of Software Quality, shipping quality code and the high cost in time and money of perfect code. Software engineers like to call quality code “Clean Code”. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it’s good enough to solve the business problem without breaking the bank. This meets the needs of 99% of customers. Some exceptions might be avionic software as mentioned, nuclear power plant control software and pace maker software. Even these solutions have some bugs but they are testing for much longer periods of time with more rigorous standards. This results in longer software development deliver times and much higher costs. A good book to read on this topic is Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C Martin.

What we tell Flint Hills Group customers is that we build Quality Software Solutions that are 80–85% Clean Code solutions. They match their requirements and solve their business problems quickly at a reasonable cost. We partner with our customers on software testing so that they perform customer acceptance testing after our module and integration testing. We tell them that the cost of a 90% Clean Code solution is twice our normal price and takes far longer to develop. A 100% Solid Code solution is 8–10x our normal price and could 1-3 years to develop and test depending on the size of the solution. Our customers appreciate our candor and partnership on these custom software projects. So far, no customer has pursued the 10x cost option of perfection.

90% of the US population now have smart phones. The new Android, iOS and Windows phones often cost between $700 and $1000 dollars and last 2 – 3 years at best. How many people experience problems with their smart phones? Have you ever had a dropped call, a locked up phone app or simply had to power cycle your phone to get a problem resolved? If so, you have experienced a bug with products from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung and others. Would you be willing as a consumer to pay more for your phone to avoid these inconveniences? What if Apple or Google had a perfect bug-free smart phone for $10,000 – would you buy that phone? There may be a handful of people in the world who might say yes to that by 99% of the existing smart phone owners would say No! The cost of perfect software in that case is simply not worth the value received. This holds true with a large majority of software solutions in the world.

At Flint Hills Group, we understand the quality of solutions by testing using the Agile Software methodology.  We use regular status (scrums) meetings with our customers. We partner closely with our customers so that they affect the end solution and confirm our work as we develop. By tracking the full set of test cases and knowing when we have clean runs, we can track the quality of our software products with our customers. Flint Hills Group takes the approach that finding a software bug earlier and resolving it is a cheaper path than later in the development process or when customers start using the software. We develop and test early and often as a result and ask our customers to play a large role in testing. Our most successful solutions involved our customers testing with us every step of the way. We received recognition for how we work with customers with an Innovation and Enterprise Award for Startups by the Wichita Business Journal in October, 2017.

Reach out to Flint Hills Group to start a project and get a free consultation.  You will love our team of 100% US-based engineers who will partner with you to turn Your Vision into Software.

Dave Cunningham
Founder and CEO

A seasoned technical leader with over 30 years software engineering experience, Dave is a passionate collaborator who brings teams together for success.

Dave Cunningham - CEO Flint Hills Group
Dave Cunningham - CEO Flint Hills Group

Dave Cunningham
Founder and CEO

A seasoned technical leader with over 30 years software engineering experience, Dave is a passionate collaborator who brings teams together for success.

2018-09-19T11:56:46-06:00

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