Using Bugzilla as a Quality Reporting Tool

P

PaulJSmith

#1
I'd like to benefit once again from the vast experience of this group.

Quick background:
I work for a very small (less than 25 people) family-owned company that designs and builds our own products (precision time systems). When I started here about 4 years ago, there was a primitive system in place to collect data on production rejects with an Excel spreadsheet. It worked OK in its limited application. I expanded it to encompass the entirety of the newly expanded inspection processes. It has been tracking Incoming Materials Inspections, Work-In-Process Inspections, Final Assembly Inspections, and Shipping Inspections, and has given us a fairly good read on the trends in our errors. I have it set up to generate trend graphs, Paretos, and Top 5 graphs for each category. It is by no means perfect, but it's worked to this point.

We have a new consultant of late (also another family member) who is pushing the idea of using Bugzilla as a means of tracking errors. It is already in place and in use in the production environment. He is now proposing that we replace the existing Excel system with a Bugzilla application. I am skeptical - admittedly based on my thus far limited exposure to it - that this will be an effective tool for this purpose. I don't get the impression that this is the intent of its design.

Has anyone else here used Bugzilla as an all-encompassing Quality database system with any success? I found in a forum search that Pancho has recommended it as a CAPA tool on a couple of occasions in the past, but I have not seen any mention of any wider use.

Any experiences you would be willing to share would be most helpful.
 
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yodon

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Bugzilla is rather malleable so, in theory, it's quite possible. As far as I know, the tool doesn't have anything more than rudimentary (CSV) reporting so most likely, the data would have to be post-processed to give you charts and graphs that are relatively easy with Excel. (I can envision Bugzilla as the data capture mechanism and using the Excel spreadsheets to process / present the data).

One thought might be to jot down your "system" requirements and then see how they map into Bugzilla use.
 

Pancho

wikineer
Super Moderator
#3
Hi Paul,

Yes, we use Bugzilla quite a lot. We have used it for CAPA for eight years, and for plant NC handling for about six, and we use it for various other bugs too. I think that our NC handling use is similar to what you are looking for. It is not really an "all-encompassing Quality database system" since our wiki is a database too, and it is not Bugzilla. But it is good issue-handling software.

The reporting is adequate for our needs. Nothing fancy, but as a database, you can pretty much print out any list of NCs (or "rejects") filtered, sorted, and subtotaled in whichever way you want.

The issue records can have any information you want to dump in them: discussion threads, custom fields, photos, pdfs or links to any other NC or to the www. Automatic emails are another nice feature. They keep the workflow going.

And the best part: Bugzilla gives you urls for each issue, and even for any search or report. This is very useful. For example, when a set of NCs gets escalated to a CAR, you can have the generating NCs immediately linked to the CAR issue (which is in our other instance of Bugzilla). Similarly, with such links, you can have access to that information from any wiki document, such as quality alerts or work instructions. And vice-versa. The NC can link to the relevant wiki document, such as a work instruction to help explain the problem, the correction, or anything else.

So that's my experience with it. Hope it helps your decision. Good luck!


P.S. Three other items: The reporting is perfectly readable html. Multiple users is never a problem. And it is foss.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#4
Change is good....but only if it is change in the right direction!

I've seen BZ used to track problems outside the software realm, but not sure it is gonna do what you want it to do.

Show this "consultant" what you can do now, ask if his proposed BZ solution can do it better, and maybe give him some raw data to show you how it is better.

New and different does not necessarily mean better.

Our new and different 6-figure cost QA NC tracking system is universally hated by the users. I am sure it has cost us money outside the initial outlay. But it eliminated some paper copies and...well...it is a computer program so it must be better, right? Not.
 
P

PaulJSmith

#5
I know it has limitations. So does the current Excel-based system. My proposal on two occasions has been an Access database. It solves the desire for better searchability and higher granularity, and ... we already have it. Unfortunately, this has been met with indifference both times.

So, I'm basically wanting to know if anyone has even tried to use Bugzilla on such a scale, and whether they succeeded or failed. As I said above, my experience so far tells me its not the right tool for this job. I'm more than willing to admit I'm wrong, though, should someone show me it can be effective (which our SME's here have not yet been able to do).
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#6
Software people see software as a solution for any problem. A carpenter would suggest a nail.

You'll have the usual challenges - does it do what you need? Is it accessible to all users? Are all the potential users computer savvy and in the habit of using new tools consistently ? Are the outputs user friendly on the eyes and brain, or does it just look modern?
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#7
A big aspect, especially with things like Wikis, is someone who really understands and does the backend well. Elsmar - Years ago someone wanted a Wiki here. I added one. I wasn't Wiki language literate. Few people were, and still today, in Wikipedia, few people really understand it all.

The important part is the User Interface (UI). It has to be simple and easily understandable. You can't expect the "standard" user to understand Wiki Markup for entries.

That said, it is a good database (which is essentially what it is) with great editing logging history.

But again - It's the UI that is important.

However - Like I say - You need a GOOD backend person who understands the software. The one who designed it and/or maintains it. This aspect can be expensive - It's essentially "programmer" experience. For some companies, OK. For others, not so much.

I did some work in the 1990's with a company which had a really good QA person who was good at programming. He did one heck of a job setting up a QA database, created excellent, simple UI - Had everything inter-linked and was really a wonder. Company size was about 75 souls. About 2 years later he left and no one else had any idea how it all fit together and was maintained.

:2cents:
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#8
Yeah, I've witnessed the crash when the wizard leaves town. Everybody is running around shouting " Where is the pencil? Do we have any paper ? "
 

Pancho

wikineer
Super Moderator
#9
One of the main goals of any quality system is for the organization to learn the spells and have them available at points of use.

That "wizard" obviously didn't do their first job: document your process.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#10
I fully agree, but, as happened in the case cited, they had to hire someone with that knowledge base. No one else in the company could jump in his seat and take over the processes. They were documented. Small companies often just don't have anyone with the background and at the very least have to hire a contractor.
 
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