A bug tracking system is always better than MS-Excel

I had an interesting conversation with an R&D Manager who was telling me that the reason they worked with MS-Excel instead of using a Bug Tracking Platform was because she didn’t want to waste the time needed to install and configure such as system. Her rational was the Excel was already there, required no installation and all the Engineers knew how to use it.

At first I thought she was kidding but as soon as I realized it was for real I asked for 10 minutes in order to show her why her incomplete time equations where driving her to the wrong conclusion.

I went to the office’s whiteboard and together we created the following table:

To make a long story short, using her project numbers and expected statistics I showed her that while the setup costs are real, the savings in time needed to report, edit and manage the bugs would more than pay for it, saving at least 2 man-days or about 37% of time invested in bug operations.

I also pointed to the fact that if she were to choose a hosted system that doesn’t require any installation or configuration (such as QuackTest :o) she may be able to save an additional 4 hours of work.

The numbers I used on the table where intentionally conservative, as I think most of us would agree that searching for bugs in an excel can take more than 1.5 minutes, and I also left out the time wasted while the excel file is locked and/or even worst if it gets corrupted by the multiple savings and updates from different clients and machines. I personally feel that even on a small project working with an organized system can save closer to 75% of the time invested in Bug Management & Tracking.

At the end of the day the R&D Manager got convinced by our reasoning, hopefully one more Company that will start treating bugs and their management with more caution and respect…

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2 Responses to A bug tracking system is always better than MS-Excel

  1. john September 10, 2008 at 6:32 am #

    Many years ago we tracked our time and tasks using excel. It was difficult to get any useful data from the spreadsheets, and took hours upon hours to update them. Since then we’ve started using an online tool called Intervals.

  2. Joel Montvelisky September 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Hi John,

    That's exactly my point, leaving excel for a project & ticket tracking system is a good first step.

    Next stop is to start managing the rest of your quality-assurance-related activities (hopefully using one integrated system). More to come…


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