|Bug or Enhancement?||KEVIN RESCHENBERG|
Your procedure for requesting changes to your PeopleSoft
system probably separates bug reports from enhancement requests. Just
about everybody's system does this. But what, really, is the difference?
A defect or bug is detected when the system is not operating properly
(accurately or efficiently enough). An
enhancement is requested when the system is not operating as well or as
efficiently as it could. These are two sides of the same coin, and I'd argue
that the distinction is blurry and generally meaningless.
People often separate bug reports from enhancement requests because bugs
are more urgent problems and must be fixed first. But is that really true?
A minor cosmetic problem on a page is a bug and should be corrected.
However, consider a simple enhancement request that, if implemented, would
reduce errors and save large amounts of the users' time. Which is more
urgent in this case?
We could say that a bug is a "feature" of the system that does not meet
the specifications. Assuming your specs are detailed enough and cover the
business process adequately, this would be true. When the item is not covered
by the specs, it is requested as an enhancement. But is it possible that the
writer of the specs simply didn't consider the situation in question and
should have included it? The fact that the situation was not covered by the
specs does not automatically make it less important.
Sometimes bugs and enhancements are separated as a way of discouraging
"scope creep". This can be a good objective. But once again, it's important
to evaluate the enhancement requests in a timely manner so that potentially
critical functionality is not missed. Requests should be reviewed before
being tossed into the "Phase 2" pile.
Occasionally the specs are viewed as a type of "contract" between the users
and the technical support team. This may be valid when you are dealing
with an external vendor, but it is often counterproductive when used within
the same company. Unfortunately, in shops that have developed
an "us vs. them" culture, the bug/enhancement distinction can be used in
a very negative manner. Suddenly the users see everything as a bug, while
the technical people see every request as an enhancement.
Avoid this! Everyone should be working toward a
common goal: To make the system work accurately and efficiently to support
business objectives. Viewed in that light, bug reports and enhancement
requests are pretty much the same thing.