Every piece of software in every sphere will always have a list of outstanding enhancement requests and issues. We are fortunate that the list for TaxCalc is brief by industry standards and we are able to cover most things on a fairly short cycle due to our above average release frequency. Nonetheless we try very hard to make sure we are addressing them in an order that reflects their severity and impact on, and demand from, our customers. Unfortunately there are a number of factors that can complicate this process:
- In our particular market we operate under a heavy legislative framework often subject to substantial change at short notice and with immovable deadlines. This can lead to large pieces of work being urgently required with little warning.
- From time to time important work is required ‘behind the scenes’ on the products which is not visible to the user but must be done. This can sometimes take priority over more prominent work at short notice.
- When working on complex software products like TaxCalc it is also accepted best practice to focus on one tight area of code at a time rather than flit between different sections of the application. This approach is hugely more efficient, allowing more to be done over the medium term, and dramatically reduces the risk of introducing errors, which would otherwise need picking up during testing and then correcting, which further delays release. This can, again, lead to changes being made apparently ‘out of priority order’ and can make the development routine appear less structured than it is.
- Apparently ‘minor’ changes and corrections to the software are rarely as isolated as they appear and almost always require the whole application to be re-tested before release, delaying that release or ongoing work on other vital deadline-constrained future releases. This wider impact medium-term impact is also considered.
- In addition to this, it is not always possible to accurately judge the full impact of an issue on customers, or the true strength of demand, sufficiently in advance to make rigid long-term plans. Feedback arrives unevenly from our customer base and we often have to revise our priorities to reflect the latest input.
- Finally, the very purpose of the test process is to seek out unknown issues before release. By their nature, it is not possible to say how many there might be and how long they will take to fix and re-test. For this reason, target release dates can never be entirely firm.
Please be assured, however, that we are always seeking to improve this process and communicate better to customers. It is also our policy to continually advance all TaxCalc products over time so any feedback and comment is taken on board and appreciated.
Please see our article Known issues in the latest released version of TaxCalc for a current list of issues, ways to work around them and our plans to resolve them.