Importance of Bug Tracking in Software Development

Decoding the Bug Tracking Landscape

Key Takeaways

  • Bug tracking is not just a routine process but a strategic practice that drives software development teams towards delivering high-quality applications.

  • Bug tracking involves collaboration between development and quality assurance teams, who work together to uncover and address issues, making effective collaboration a necessity.

  • Common challenges in bug tracking include vague bug reports, inconsistent prioritization, and poor bug tracking software.

  • Launchable empowers teams with data-driven decision-making, utilizing bug tracking metrics, and fostering a positive team culture.

Did you know that, on average, software projects experience between 15 to 50 bugs per 1000 lines of code? This statistic shows the pervasive nature of bugs in software development and the necessity of a well-structured bug-tracking system. 

Bug tracking isn't just a process; it's a strategic practice that empowers dev teams to identify, document, and manage software issues efficiently. In the race to create seamless digital experiences, the significance of effective bug tracking cannot be overstated.

In this article, we embark on a journey through the world of bug tracking, understanding its importance and exploring how this process acts as a compass that steers development teams toward delivering higher-quality software.

Understanding Software Bugs

We’ve all heard the term before — software bugs, debugging the system, fixing bugs. The term “bug” was initially coined by engineers in the 1870s but wouldn’t become a part of the computer science world until 1947, when an actual moth was found in a relay in a computer, causing an error.

Nowadays, these bugs aren’t flying around our software (usually) but instead are errors or flaws in a program or application. They come in a variety of forms:

  • Functional bugs - These stop a program from doing its intended functions.

  • Non-functional bugs - Instead of stopping outright, these bugs affect an application's performance, security, or reliability.

  • Security bugs - These are critical issues that make a program vulnerable to malicious attackers.

  • Logic Bugs - A logic bug will disrupt how the code is intended to work, often resulting in a crash, fatal error, or just unexpected behavior.

Software bugs can have a massive impact on your program's development, making debugging a critical part of the overall development cycle. But if you can implement processes early into your operations, it can make a huge impact. When bugs go unresolved for too long, they can quickly grow from a simple fix to a massive problem that can stop your team dead in its tracks.

Bug Tracking Process

Kicking off a bug-tracking process isn’t difficult — and most of the tools you’re already using for your dev teams have bug-tracking functionality included. While we won’t go into the full defect triage process, a few simple steps come with finding and tracking bugs.

  1. Finding the bug. Your teams should already be running tests while developing, so there’s a good chance that a bug will come up as the project progresses.

  2. Creating a bug report. These can come in different shapes and styles based on the tools you use, but you’ll need one to track all the issues your teams encounter properly. Your reports should include detailed information like the date, the issue, how to replicate it, and any diagnostic info you can provide.

  3. Run Triage. Here is where your teams should investigate, weigh the severity, and plan to fix the bugs they’ve discovered. Teams will be going through this process constantly — you’ll want to have triage regularly and at certain milestones in the development process.

During this process, all parts of your team will contribute somehow. Your dev team will likely find most of the bugs in your system and create reports as development goes along. Once passed to your QA team, they’ll drill down and find more issues the dev team didn’t catch through test suites.

Prioritizing and Classifying Bugs

Once you’ve discovered bugs in your system and created a bug-tracking report, you’ll need to make a plan of action to resolve these issues. You’ll likely have many bugs to squash, and you’ll never have enough time. This means you’ll need to categorize and prioritize them.

During this process, you’ll want to identify how impactful these bugs are and how important they are to the system's overall health, establishing an outline of how significant or critical the issue may be. This can be done based on how it impacts the performance of the software, security flaws, or bugs that can crash the system.

10 Common Issues with Bug Tracking

While it may seem pretty simple, it’s never as clean once you put it into practice. Plenty of things can go wrong, and common issues you’ll see when you start implementing a healthy bug-tracking routine.

  1. Vague Bug Reports - Nobody is perfect, and there’s no way to guarantee all the information needed on every report. Devs must drill down to give all possible information on a bug report, or it may never be fixed. It can even end up causing duplicate reports if left unchecked.

  2. Inconsistent Prioritization - Without a solid framework for how your team will prioritize bugs, they may be able to agree on what needs to be fixed first. You’ll want to establish clear guidelines with your team to accurately prioritize issues when they arise so nothing gets lost or ignored on accident.

  3. Ineffective Triage - If your team is falling behind on the triage process, you’ll quickly see a decrease in product quality. Your teams need constant communication to resolve these issues, and you’ll want to streamline your triage and assignment protocols to ensure things run smoothly.

  4. Poor Fixes and Verification - Once bugs are fixed, teams need to verify them as well before proceeding. If not, they’ll continue to cause issues for your application and your team, leading to extra work (and an extra headache!). To solve this, teams need a strict procedure to verify all fixes before moving forward.

  5. Not Utilizing Bug Tracking Metrics - Your tests offer a ton of juicy data — so you should be capitalizing on it to get the most bang for your buck. Tracking key metrics and using reports can help educate your team and speed up your entire process, from bug tracking to resolution.

  6. Massive Backlog - If your teams aren’t progressing on your existing issues, you’ll quickly amass a huge backlog of bugs to be resolved. Teams should have a solid plan to help keep your backlog as small as possible without burning out your team, whether that means extra staff or timeline delays to ensure you deliver a quality product.

  7. No Integration Into Dev Workflow - Tools that only deal with bug tracking and don’t complement your existing dev workflow can be detrimental to your bug tracking process. Using a tracking tool that integrates with the tools your devs already use will make the overall process much smoother and increase communication across teams.

  8. Not Embracing Bug Tracking Practices - Your team members are the ones doing all the heavy lifting, and they’re the ones who need to adopt the practices set in place. Spend time educating them on the tools and processes your teams have established, and encourage them to adopt and learn them so they can flourish and be effective.

  9. Poor Bug Tracking Software - Sometimes, you don’t have the right tools, making the entire bug-tracking process seem painful and slow. Work with your teams to determine what they need and what works for them so you can pick software that helps your bug-tracking process, not hurts.

  10. Negative Team Culture - If your company culture is quick to point the blame and not take accountability for their issues, it can slow your bug-tracking process to a complete halt. Instead, you should foster a healthy culture around open communication, collaboration, and accountability so that nobody feels bad for making a mistake.

Improve Bug Tracking with Launchable

If you want to make a real difference within your bug-tracking process, you’ll want tools that make your and your team’s lives easier. And the best way to do that is with Launchable.

With Launchable, we help wrangle hard-to-spot bugs with Predictive Test Selection. We analyze your tests and only run the ones affected by the changes in your code, giving you a shorter feedback loop for your testing team. Then, you can narrow down the sources of these issues without running a complete end-to-end test, saving you tons of time.

Once you’ve streamlined your testing, you can deep dive into the rich, juicy data those tests provide. Launchable offers a deep look into how your tests perform on all levels with our Test Insights, giving you a magnifying glass to spot flaky, poor-performing tests and what test may be slowing your teams down.

Finally, once you’ve laid down the foundation of your new testing system, Launchable keeps everyone in the loop with Test Notifications. Never let your team miss a critical notification about failing tests or critical issues, and keep everyone in the loop without ever leaving Slack.

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