My wife – a doctor – has been looking recently at safety systems in the aviation industry and their applications to the health service. In particular, how errors are reported and followed up. Apparently, NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is the way to go. Every industry wanting to improve safety and reduce errors looks to NASA and ASRS.
Software is usually not quite as safety critical as aviation or health but one of the key targets for a software business is quality. Even if people would not die as a result of buggy software, we usually want high quality bug free software as the long term cost is lower and so profits are higher. Yet I often find the general attitude to bugs and mistakes is all wrong. The standard attitude is:
My boss wants bug-free software. Bugs make my boss unhappy. Therefore, my boss will be happier if he doesn’t know about the bugs.
It’s slightly simplistic perhaps, but who can honestly say that they’ve discovered some obscure bug in the system and felt absolutely happy about bringing it to the attention of management or other developers? Have you never considered just conveniently forgetting all about it?