17 March 2004 Oracle has finally overcome the quality issues that bedevilled its E-Business Suite 11i application, but users suggest that it could still be better. That is the conclusion of analysts AMR Research following a survey of Oracle customers.
Oracle’s application suite was widely panned when it was launched in May 2000. The software was bug-ridden and users were swamped with patches to fix the problems that ran into thousands – more than one every week.
Furthermore, many of the patches ‘broke’ the application, forcing IT departments to spend time and money thoroughly testing every patch before implementation.
The problems reached a peak two years ago, says AMR Research’s Bill Swanton, and led to a complete overhaul of the Oracle Applications division. This included “reorganising development, creating a software quality organisation, changing key quality management metrics and automating its regression testing for new releases,” says Swanton.
This has led to a number of changes at Oracle that users are now benefiting from, he adds. These include :
- 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;
- 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.
However, although customers report dramatic improvements in quality and reliability, many are still far from satisfied. “It has gone from being the number one issue to number three or four,” one user told Swanton.
Nevertheless, Swanton is upbeat: “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,” he concludes.