To Use OSS or Not to Use?

February 3, 2010


To Use OSS or Not to Use?

This post is a result of a very big discussion I had with a customer
that I’m currently consulting for. The discussion started because a
project reached its testing phase and to my surprise the QA team
worked with… (don’t be shocked) a primitive excel file to manage
bugs. The testing phase was taking to long because of things like
concurrency (two users can’t edit the excel file at the same time),
synchronization of the same file and many other multi-user or files problems.
Since in my opinion the situation couldn’t go on like this, I contact one
of the managers and suggested to use a bug management system instaed
of using the file. I got the well known answer –
there is no budget and the organization won’t be buying this kind of systems.
I then offered to use BugTracker.NET or other OSS that offer fine bug
management systems. Using such systems will be with no cost so the budget
issue won’t be a problem and the benefits are clear.
This is were I hit the wall!
Apparently there is a very clear guidance in the customer’s organization that
restrict the use of OSS. Even further, the manager came to me and told me that
in his opinion as a consultant I can’t advise to use an OSS (even though I
suggested a tool that I used in the past and it proved itself).
He also told me that he thinks that it can reduce my credibility if I offer to use
open source projects.
Here is my thoughts – bullshit.
There are times that OSS can help you to go forward and not to remain in
Middle Ages. I know that there are pros and cons for using OSS which can
help you decide whether to use them or not in a project but to absolutely
reject a solution because it’s an OSS is stupidity.
In the end they still use the excel file and the schedule for going to production
was postponed in two weeks because of the slow testing phase. Of course it
postponed another project that rely on this project in four weeks. 
The delay in the schedule is going to cost the organization more money
then buying a bug management system license.
Making bad decisions can come at you.

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  1. davidFebruary 3, 2010 ב 18:19

    Hate it when these situations come up.  What bothers me most is that it should not be of the customer’s concern what tools I use to get the job done.

    If you ask for a car, what do you care if they eletric tools or hydraulic tools?  Excel or a bug tracking system?

  2. SureshFebruary 4, 2010 ב 20:53

    I don’t agree with you in using OSS doesn’t cost anything. It does cost you money to host, support etc.,

    But I do think there are so many good OSS tools out there and we use it when we needed it.

  3. Thomas WellerFebruary 4, 2010 ב 20:54

    I wonder, what the contra arguments for mature OSS tools (and there are many of them) might be. Actually, good OSS software is higher in quality than the usual commercial one! I had this ‘argument’ (“It’s OSS, so it’s forbidden.”) in my professional practice, too. But I don’t understand it, not even a bit…

  4. Nizar NooraniFebruary 4, 2010 ב 21:48

    I ran into a similar situation at my previous client. One approach is to try and utilize whatever existing tools they have in place that aren’t being used. What worked for me was SharePoint. The developers and the managers were heavy SharePoint users so when I suggested incorporating a BugTracker List into it(by this I mean created it in my spare time and presented it), it received a very positive response and finally got us away from Excel Spreadsheets.

    The thing you have you realize is that most manager’s aren’t in touch with new technologies and tools and have to report to their supervisors if something backfires. Hence, their usually response is a resounding NO!! to any new tools and technologies that you introduce. Very unfortunate but it is what it is!