What’s a “Zero-Bug Policy,” and why should you care?

by Jul 8, 2019

You’ve felt the frustration when you’re on a website and things aren’t working right – a button doesn’t work, you can’t check out, the page keeps shutting down, or it’s just plain “glitchy.”  Software bugs.  They’re almost more annoying than the animate kind.

Even more frustrating is the fact that some software companies believe bugs are inevitable, and unless catastrophic, they choose not to fix them.  Sonic Boom Chief Operating Officer Ryan Van Der Vorste says they’re ubiquitous in most organizations. “I’ve worked places where we’ve had hundreds of bugs in the queue with no intent to fix them.  It’s just accepted that people will have to work around them.” 

Not at Sonic Boom.  We have a “Zero-Bug Policy,” and eliminating bugs is priority-one.

What IS a Zero-Bug Policy?

At Sonic Boom, we’ve committed to squashing bugs as soon as they rear their ugly heads.  Our Zero-Bug Policy challenges our developers to prioritize bug fixes over new projects in order to maintain a consistent, glitch-free member experience.

If it’s something that’s affecting the majority of our users or jeopardizing the platform’s basic functionality, it’s addressed immediately.  If it’s something simple that may not affect members in a broad sense, (e.g., adding a border, changing a photo, or creating a new button) the team will finish what it’s currently working on (always improving the program) and then address the bug.

While it may seem that prioritizing bug fixes over new projects would slow innovation, it does the exact opposite – it allows project managers to better plan their developers’ schedules by budgeting time for bug-fixing instead of squeezing it in between other projects.

That said, it is virtually impossible for any software to be written error-free.  Some experts estimate that there are typically 15-50 errors per delivered 1,000 lines of code.  “Delivered” means it goes to production – that means it causes you grief.  And 1,000 lines of code is NOTHING.  Our site has – well, “millions of lines of code” is an underestimate.  No software company will achieve perfect code from the get-go – meaning bugs are here to stay.  But how those bugs affect our clients’ experience?  Now THAT we have control over.