Bug bad, bug good, bug Bug

Rothman suggests we use the term Defect, not Bug – as if Defect is a more honest / real word, and Bug is somehow more evasive, non-descript. Au contraire – my guess is that Ms. Rothman does not have a programming background! When you say to a Programmer that their software has a bug, they typically take great offense; I remember how fast a consultant turned from smooth professional to defensive techno-geek the instant I suggested their work product had bugs.

I note that the comments and cross posts to date (minute?) take Rothman to task for picking on the word “bug” – sorta proves my point how techs can get defensive over a little word. Where does that come from … ? Well, I’ve found that business process owners / functional / “end-users” use the term bug in a perjorative sense, and/or as a catch-all term for any system issue – even process or requirements issues, the tendency seems first to “blame the system“.

We use a really dynamite, low cost, nicely functional issue tracking system, and even though you get the source code when you buy the software, we didn’t want to make any changes, just use it as-is – so the business users know it by it’s given name, BugAware. Now, for our major projects, we use BugAware as a true issue-tracking system, pointing out questions / problems / opportunities with the business processes, as well as feature requests and, yes, bugs. However, all “items” that we track are now referred to as bugs, even though many have nothing to do with problems in computer code.

Sometimes I slightly regret the decision, but I would still keep the term out there because it takes the judgemental connotation out of the term; the team points out “bugs” in the business process / policies as often as we all point out “bugs” in the programs.

Ok, well, most of the time it does, those gol-durned users still don’t know what they’re talking about, robble robble

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.