What is a bug?
I’ve been opening quite a high number of customer messages recently. All of them reached sacrosanct “development support”. Most of them came back with the mention “work as design”. And I began to ask myself this question that I asked so many times before: “By the way, what is a bug?”. Not that easy to find an answer. You might say “A bug is something that has to be fixed so that the software will work as intended”. Fair enough. But then, how do you know that something actually works as intended? Who can decide what “as intended” really means?
Maybe that will become clearer if we take a step back and try to transpose those questions to some more basic scenarios.
My car’s got four wheels
Imagine that you buy a brand new car to your favorite reseller. Everybody knows what a car is so there’s really no need to explain what you’ll got when it is delivered. However, on the day you receive your keys you notice that you’ve got your car, and your wheels, but the wheels are not mounted. You find them somewhere on the floor, with a nice little screwdriver next to them (called a “BADI” in SAP language). So technically speaking you’ve got every pieces you ordered, and you also got every tool you need for your car to be ready to go. So do you have any right to complain? And if you do, what will you say to the technician that is kindly explaining to you that he followed the instructions he was given (i.e. the car is meant to be delivered this way)? Obviously you can insist as long as you want, you’ll end up having a “dialogue between deaf people”.
My car can ride during daylight
Now imagine that you managed to mount your four wheels. So you can plan a very nice and long trip. But as night comes you notice that your car has no headlight. When you come back to your reseller, a few people are asking you many things because obviously they find it weird as well. So you show them your car, you give them your keys, you answer every question about where you wanted to go, what gas station you stopped by at, who was your passenger when the issue occurred, etc.: they go for a ride and try it themselves. After a week or so, they tell you that they need to forward your problem to some specialist… and you end up meeting the same technician as before. His answer couldn’t be more clear: “There is no headlight on this type of car, we made it for daylight use only — however we forgot to mention it in the users’ manual so we published a small addendum (called a “consulting” OSS note listing software limitations in SAP language) that you can download from our website”. Again: your car works perfectly fine during daylight, plus there is some piece of paper somewhere that says the car was never intended to be used at night: so do you have the right to complain? And if you do, what is the purpose of arguing with the technician that did nothing but following the specifications of this car?
My car was upgraded, now I miss my airbag
You love your car reseller. He’s a nice guy. So you didn’t hung up the phone when he called to sell you a maintenance package. What convinced you the most is the offer to choose any new option you like for your car, and have it installed in no time (called a “switchable business function” in SAP language). You decide to go for the steering wheel of your dream, the one with a deep and beautiful red carpet all around it. I must confess I love this one too. And here you go: new steering wheel was installed pretty fast (how cool is that?) and you feel so much sexier driving slowly along the seafront… until you realize that your airbag is no longer here. Of course you like your steering wheel, but you liked your airbag even more! So, you contact the same technician (again), and the answer is the same (again): that’s how the steering wheel was designed. In fact, for technical reasons he had to remove the airbag to put the carpet. Nothing mentioned in the documentation, nor in any addendum this time. But his explanation is very convincing: you cannot decently have both because you would risk suffocation with the carpet around your neck when the airbag comes out. Not to mention that the technician promised to find a solution to this problem for next version of your car. So do you have the right to complain?
If I can walk, do I really need a car after all?
You may be thinking I’m ranting here. But I’m not. I know SAP Support is doing a great job with its twitter channels (@SAPSupportCE and @SAP_GSupport), with the customer connection program, and there is even a channel on Youtube. I’m just trying to describe with a little bit of humor what I’ve been experiencing so many times, and that I’m still experiencing at this very moment. I don’t have all the answers, but I feel like in the end, it would make sense to have some smart guy between me and the technician to discuss some problems from a functional point of view before addressing the technical side.
Am I the only one?