/>
X
Business

Oracle E-Business Suite Software Quality Continues To Improve

About two years ago, software quality issues with Oracle’s E-Business Suite 11i reached a peak within the vendor’s customer base. To address the problems, Oracle overhauled its operations, including reorganizing development, creating a software quality organization, changing key quality management metrics, and automating its regression-testing for new releases.
zd-defaultauthor-bill-swanton.jpg
Written by Bill Swanton on

About two years ago, software quality issues with Oracle’s E-Business Suite 11i reached a peak within the vendor’s customer base. To address the problems, Oracle overhauled its operations, including reorganizing development, creating a software quality organization, changing key quality management metrics, and automating its regression-testing for new releases. As I wrote at the time, “Oracle has taken the first steps, but it still has several years of hard work ahead of it to embed the new processes in its culture.”

The Bottom Line: Oracle is making steady progress toward creating a quality culture and improving the customer experience. While larger existing customers still see room for improvement, new customers should have a better experience, and all will benefit from expanded testing and system management improvements underway.

What It Means: When we caught up with Oracle recently, the company spoke of the results it is seeing, including the following:

  • Focusing releases on the entire suite, not individual modules, to better test dependencies between modules
  • Stretching the time between point releases out to about one year, which is more in line with the measured pace of its competitors
  • Introducing a software quality dashboard for newly automated development processes that increases management visibility and action by showing quality metrics and progress toward meeting release criteria
  • Reducing bad patches and problems with translations experienced per customer by about 90%
  • Slashing by two-thirds the software service requests per customer, with reported problems being less severe and resolved faster
The Takeaway: Oracle is following through on its promises and seeing the results in metrics that are closely watched by its management.

Is everything perfect?

I contacted many of the Oracle customers originally interviewed in 2002 to see how things have changed. All agreed that the level of software quality has improved, but it could still be better. As one company told me, “It has gone from being the number one issue to number three or four.” More pressing at these customers are the classic issues common to all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects, including user adoption, change management, and data quality. The Takeaway: The progress is good, but Oracle’s quality journey still has a few miles to go.

The next steps

Release 11.5.10, expected in mid-2004, will benefit from Oracle’s next steps, which include the following:

  • More extensive testing with real customer data, including configurations from a few very large installations of the broad suite and many of its hosting customers--The company has realized that delivered business flows and the sample test data are not as complex as the real world.
  • More standardization of the software stack, such as the operating system, database, and user interface tools, required for each release--While this might necessitate some upgrades of technical components, it will reduce the wide variety of environments in the field and make releases easier to test and support.
Conclusion: The quality gap between Oracle and its competitors has narrowed tremendously in the past two years. It should no longer be a major issue in new selections, nor should it be slowing existing customers from getting benefits from their investment. Companies are managing any remaining quality issues with automated regression-testing and system management tools. Oracle is sticking to the right path, and its ongoing efforts should continue to improve the software’s quality.

AMR Research originally published this article on 9 March 2004.

Editorial standards

Related

How to use your phone to diagnose your car's 'check engine' light
BlueDriver Bluetooth dongle

How to use your phone to diagnose your car's 'check engine' light

Google Play malware: If you've downloaded these malicious apps, delete them immediately
a-man-sitting-in-his-living-room-looking-at-his-smartphone-with-concern

Google Play malware: If you've downloaded these malicious apps, delete them immediately

How to access your iPhone's camera faster with this hidden feature
iphone-13-pro-max-cameras.jpg

How to access your iPhone's camera faster with this hidden feature