The POS Software Blog

News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

Transparency not enough for this small business user


There are some aspects of owning and operating a (relatively) small software company which frustrate me. One is the user who wants it done their way in their time frame regardless of everyone else. We have a situation at present where a user has reported a problem and because we did not publish it as a bug right away he is (publicly) grumpy as all hell. I explained that we have a ‘proof’ obligation for reports of bugs to determine if indeed they are a bug. He wanted this proof process speeded up. We’d had two calls about the problem from more than 1,000 active users running the software on over 3,500 computers. Also, the reports we received were not consistent.

After several tests we were able to recreate the problem – but not exactly as the most vocal user reported to us. In his case his system (not supplied by us) crashed. This caused him to place a higher priority on the problem. In our testing we considered it annoying but certainly no show stopper.

We have advised our users of the problem, noted it as minor and issued a workaround to keep the few who will experience the problem happy until we issue a patch some time next week. It’s in a function of the software used a few times each year and it only occurs if one of the optional parts of the function is used.

None of these comments are written to dilute our obligation to correct bugs. Rather, I am concerned about the considerable time lost responding to the many emails from this one user demanding that we publish it as a bug and even in terms which suit him. What he wanted was not supported by the evidence. When I put that I was told I was not transparent etc etc. Some of this conversation was on our public discussion board which I established more than five years ago. Postings are not moderated. That, alone, demonstrates a level of transparency between my company and its user base.

Some people will never be satisfied. In this case, the bug itself was ot the issue. It was that we did not respond instantly, to the detriment of more pressing work, and that our response was not of a form acceptable to the user.

It’s the kind of interaction, which thankfully happens only occasionally, which makes me not enjoy owning the business.

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By Mark