Managing Defects with Your Vendor

Photo courtesy of http://www.fangdigital.com

It’s a bug, it’s a defect, it’s a flying catastrophe! How do you manage defects with your vendors? Have you breezed through User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and found few, if any, defects with your vendor’s product? Or, are you currently bogged down in a quagmire of defect identification?

Oftentimes, it’s the latter. Many customers look forward to unveiling their new product after months of design, development and unit testing. However, once the users start banging away on it, defects are found that should have been caught much earlier in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Regardless of whether you’re using an Agile or Waterfall approach, I’ve seen this happen with both process types.

I’m a big advocate of Test Driven Development or TDD. When interviewing the vendors you will choose for the project, ask them what methodology they use when testing. This may seem inconsequential now, but it’s very important. Ask the vendor what their test plans look like, how many vendor assigned personnel are allocated to testing and what happens once UAT is over. Many times, customers are turned over to an offshore outsourced call center for defects as soon as the product is accepted by the customer. Based on this, do not accept the vendor’s product if it has defects that impact your business in any way (if it’s a nice to have, that’s another issue because it shouldn’t be classified as a defect).

From a contracts perspective, before you sign a contract with a vendor, look very closely at the acceptance language. How many days do you have to accept the product? Some vendors are tricky and will insert a ten day acceptance period. If you’re in a large organization or even an organization that takes time to make decisions, ten days (not even business days, mind you) will go very fast. Instead, counter with 90 days. If they can’t give you 90 days, go to 60 days. If they can’t give you 60 days, go to 30 days. If they can’t give you 30 days at least – well, they’re not standing behind their product and I would look at another vendor in that space. If you’ve signed a bad contract with a vendor and you’re in testing hell, check out my post on navigating this type of situation with your vendor.  Curious about Termination for Convenience? Check this post out about Termination for Convenience. 

Testing and acceptance of the vendor’s product go hand in hand. So, make sure you know your vendor’s testing approach and your acceptance time frame before signing on the dotted line.

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