Any software product is going to have bugs – it is almost a given. Software is complicated, and when you have to work with a wide variety of operating system versions, types of browsers, types of networks or devices, and differing end-user expectations, life for a software developer can be very complicated. I’ve been there! So, let’s talk about bugs in QuickBooks.
I like to make a distinction between different types of “bugs”. Keep in mind that I’ve been involved with software development (both as a programmer, analyst and product manager) for many years (never mind how many…) and I’ve seen many different definitions of what a “bug” is. Here is how I am breaking things down this time around:
- Implementation Bugs: Hey, you said 1 + 1 = 2, but the program was coded incorrectly and the program is trying to tell me that 1 + 1 = 3.4. That is easy to call a bug. Some are big show-stoppers, some are minor irritations.
- Crash and Burn bugs: I try to create a sales order using this template, when I save the sales order I get “unexpected error xyz” and the program terminates. Yup, that is a bug.
- Interpretation Bugs: To me, the phrase “Quantity to Ship” means the amount of the item that I have on hand that I can ship, because I have enough of them here to send out, regardless of how many you asked for. To someone else that may mean how many you would like to ship, the total quantity you asked for, regardless of what I have available. One of us right, the other thinks the program has a bug. It all depends on how you interpret the phrase.
- Oversight Bugs: Well, sure, we said this inventory report will list the total value of your items, but we forgot to include the inactive items that might still have some value. We didn’t realize that those should have been included!
- I really want this to work a different way bugs: You gave me this memo field in an invoice, but I can’t get that to print on the invoice. I really want a memo that I can print on the invoice! Sure, you didn’t plan on it working that way, but it is the way I want it to work!
- Why don’t you do what I want bugs: I need classes in my item records so that when I invoice the item it automatically uses that class in the invoice. Sure, it’s not a “bug” because you didn’t say that it would work that way, but dang it I really need the program to work that way!
- Data Corruption bugs: Programs work better when they have the data that they expect. If something clobbers the data, damages or “corrupts” it, the problem may have been caused by an outside force that isn’t the fault of the program. However, how does the program handle things when it comes across corrupted data? Does it scream and throw up it’s hands and says “unrecoverable error”? Does it ignore the problem and just give you incorrect results that you don’t notice? A good program shouldn’t do either of those, and if it doesn’t then that is a bug. A great program will not only handle these problems gracefully, it will also correct them for you (or at least provide you with the means to correct the problem). A bad program is one that creates the corruption itself…
There are probably a couple of other categories, but hopefully you get the idea. Some things are truly a bug – the program doesn’t do what it says it will do, or the program crashes. Some things are a matter of interpretation or need – the program does what the developer says it will do, but I think it should work a different way, or I have a different need than that, or I need something more than that. If a program just doesn’t go far enough, if it isn’t doing some function that you need in your business, I don’t usually consider that to be a “bug”.
And, given the complexity of modern accounting procedures and the current state of computer technology, I don’t expect any program to be totally bug free. Bugs are going to happen, they are a fact of life. What is important is for your software to have a minimal number of bugs, that the developer has a mechanism for recording bugs, and that the bugs get fixed (and that the fixes you release don’t introduce new bugs).
So what I would like to do is to try to start building up a list of “bugs” in QuickBooks. Let’s focus on the U.S. versions for the Windows Desktop. Let’s try to avoid the “it really should do this but it doesn’t” situation, and focus just on things that are truly broken. And, let’s stick with the 2012 version if possible, since that is the latest and greatest.
Leave a comment on a bug that you know, I’ll try to compile them into a list and we’ll track how well Intuit deals with them.
I was looking around in my computer to see if I had a list of known bugs. When I go to conferences I meet with other ProAdvisors and we always talk about the bugs that everyone knows – but I have found that I don’t write these down so I don’t have a list. So, to get things started, here’s a bug. Not a show-stopper, but it looks to me like the program isn’t doing what it says it will.
Look at this setting in the Send Forms preferences. I’ve selected the “Overdue Invoices” form, and you’ll notice that there is a “Dear <First> <Last>” setting at the top.
I go to the Collections Center and see that there are some customers with overdue invoices. I’ll send an email to them!
However, here is the invoice message in Outlook, with no “Dear” salutation:
There isn’t a salutation here, and if the client does reply to me I don’t know who this came from other than by trying to look up the email address. Now, to me, that is a bug. The preferences say that it will include this information, but the program doesn’t. Not a terrible show-stopping crash of a bug, but if it was fixed it could really save me a lot of time and hassle.
So, tell me, what is bugging you?