PowerStore 3 - bug defects are Not the main issue
There have been several bugs found so far in the new release of PowerStore (ver. 3) This is not too surprising considering how much was changed between ver. 2 and ver. 3. I lot of nice new features!...but also, just like Microsoft has proven...with a lot of new functionality...comes a lot of bugs. It's just the nature of the game.
However, that is not the end of the story.
(1) Customer Service/Technical Support
(2) Change Control
(3) Quality Assurance
(4) Marketing Strategy.
These are the primary issues that PowerStore 3 has forced to the forefront. WebAssist is (I hope) planning to be around for a while. I hope you are. I like your products.
(4) Marketing Stragety. I'll take the last item first, as it is the shortest. Selling low cost products: To be successful over the long term...you need to have many customers... and many repeat customers who will promote your brand. Your marketing stragety is to sell (or via subscription) offer a lot of low cost products to a lot of customers and to continue to resell to them with newer, and more functional products...right?
To be successful at that, you need to keep your existing customers. In today's world, bad news travels fast...and far. It has always been true that bad news travels faster than good news. But it is so much more so in today's internet assisted world.
Defects in PowerStore 3 have raised the stakes in working with WebAssist's technical support team and call into question your support delivery methodology and functionality
Some of your more recent decisions on licensing (purchase vs. a subscription model) have I believe harmed your reputation. Also, the very short 30-day warrantee is not industry standard and will turn away prospective developers if they have heard any criticism of the quality of your products...just not worth taking a chance if you only have 30 days to get free product updates for defects. As a consultant-developer I would never subscribe to a tool set that I did not have an right to use if I cancelled the subscrition...How would I support my existing customers?
(1) Technical Support...in terms of post-release issues.
(1a) Not Appropriately scaled based upon product customer base.
Who are your customers? My impression is that many of your customers are not corporate IT folks...not even medium-sized businesses with on-hand IT staffs. Rather, they (we) are small businesses...without a dedicated staff for IT, or the time to become IT gurus ourselves.
We purchased from WebAssist because you promised products that required "No Coding" to be functional out of the box. In many cases this has been true. But lately...especially with PowerStore 3... your promise has been broken. There are many problem with Powerstore 3 that are I believe very minor...needing only a few tweeks to fix...providing that you are familiar with PHP/MySQL/CSS/HTML...etc...etc...
But therein lies the problem. We purchased because your products advertise they are ready to go (solid)...out of the box...with no coding required. So, when we find that something is not working...(i.e....it is in fact broken out-of-the-box) then it is frustrating to us to be told to search a forum and then make code fixes to your code to correct the defect just to get it to do what it was supposed to do out-of-the-box.
(1b) Product-focused Forums
Instead of telling customers how to fix your product, point them to the product page where you have placed module patch files and change control (release update) documents. (By the way...you did this in the past, but not so with PowerStore 3...????)
The "advice" provided in the forums sometimes leaves me wondering what you were trying to say...This is not a criticism of your tech support folks so much as it is a simple admission that "I am not smarter than a PHP coder, or at least not as familiar and comfortable with mucking about in the code as a PHP coder.
I believe that anyone purchasing your products has some expectation that they will want to "fiddle" with the code "a little" to customize/enhance it for their needs. But therein lies another problem...non-coders...trying to be coders. This now leads to new bugs being introduced into your more-or-less stable product and the complaints by the users that YOUR code is broken.
Different Responses needed to two differnt class of issues. Software Defects (1bi) identified product defects (which are solely the responsibilty of WebAssist) and Technical Documentation (1bii) issues that are caused by, or misunderstood by the users. Each set of issues needs to be addressed differently, in my opinion.
Response to (1bi) Software Defects. ANY code that is broken (out of the box) should be corrected by WebAssist as soon as it is reported and a new module released (along with a change log indicating what was changed in each module.) After all, your support staff goes to the trouble to resolve the problems submitted on the forums and you do keep an internal log of bug fixes, right?
This should be posted for download on the product page and notifications sent out to the licensed users. With the change log and updated modules, the user can then decide if they want to apply the patch or not...and if so, they can figure out if they need to go back and re-apply any "enhancements" they have created. This is not a new concept. This is industy standard for many software products.
WebAssist will be better served in the long term if you assume responsibility for updating modules and posting the updates rather than just telling users how to do so and considering the issue "closed." WebAssist should make the corrections to the affected modules and re-release them with appropriate "change control" documentation...not just tell the end user how to fix it for themselves.
Response to (1bii) Technical Documentation: A lot of the problems I have (and I suspect that others are having) are due to a lack of technical documentation or inexperience as a PHP coder. To be clear, I do NOT hold WebAssist responsible for my lack of coding skills. However, I do feel that it is in WebAssist's best interests to be supportive of your customers needs...
Not just to provide a box full of PHP modules...but also to provide more substantial product technical documentation with a perspective that the consumer of the documentation is NOT a professional PHP coder and needs to have to some degree...more explaination than you would provide to your staff programmers.
(2) Change Control
Issue 1: I was one of the very first to purchase/download PowerStore 3. The download was missing several files (There was no install directory.) I went bak later and downloaded again and the directory was there. Issue 2: The website revision number was the same on both downloads.
As stated above, we really do need more frequent break-fix updated modules instead of "here's how you fix our code" forum postings. "What's changed" documentation with the updated modules will help us to evaluate what if anything we need to do if we've elected to modify those modules.
(3) Quality Assurance:
Overall, the number of defects and the severity of the defects is higher than in PowerStore 2. The install would not work at all at first. Then the "t-string" bug prevented me from using the product at all as the directory path translation funtion did not work. I am unable to change the ProductSKU or ProductName and a few other fields because the code does not update the database. The advertized "Testing" flag does not seem to work...or not as I was anticipating it would. Some variable name usage is inconsistent...like the localhost vs. PowerStoreConnection, etc. There is little or no technical documentation that explains the usablity or implementation design of many of the new features.
Finally, I want to say that when the tech support folks do respond, depending upon who you get...their help is valuable and we really do need that help. Thanks for making these products available. I hope that this will be of help to you as well.