The Software Defect Life Cycle

Understanding the Software Defect Life Cycle From Discovery to Resolution

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding and addressing software defects is not just about fixing bugs; it's an opportunity to enhance code quality and create a better final product by gaining valuable insights into areas for improvement.

  • The defect life cycle involves a series of stages from discovery to resolution, including reporting, assignment, resolution, retesting, and closure. Efficiently managing and tracking defects is a significant challenge for development teams.

  • Common challenges in the defect life cycle include dealing with a high volume of test failures, inefficient triage processes, recurring issues, delayed problem resolution, and cognitive overload.

  • Launchable can streamline the process by filtering noise, providing concise insights, and accelerating defect resolution.

Understanding software bugs isn’t just about identifying them and tossing them into a pile to be solved later. It offers your team a chance to fix a potentially critical issue in your code and improve and elevate the overall quality of your software. These defects give teams valuable insight into areas of improvement and a path to a better product in the end.

The defect life cycle allows teams to categorize, prioritize, and resolve these issues. But simply fixing the bugs is half the battle, where managing and tracking them is the real challenge with teams. So, let’s unpack the defect life cycle process and show you how to take yours to a new level.

What is the Defect Life Cycle?

The defect life cycle is the process that a defect (or just a software bug) goes through, covering its entire lifetime from discovery to resolution. Your dev and QA team will work within this phase, with the latter being more hands-on.

While individual steps may vary, the general process is fairly similar between organizations. This is what a typical defect life cycle contains:

  1. New - This is when a defect is first discovered, and a report is made. Generally, these logs should contain as much information about the defect as possible, including steps to reproduce it and what tests it can’t pass.

  2. Assign - Once it’s been logged, the defect needs to be given to someone to resolve it. Here, the defect is assigned to a team or specific developer to be investigated and fixed.

  3. Open - Now that it’s assigned, this is when that particular developer is working on a resolution. While this is usually pretty self-explanatory, this step is also where a defect may be reassigned to another stage (such as duplicate, rejected, or deferred), depending on the developer's findings.

  4. Fixed - As you’d expect, this is where the developer marks the defect as resolved, passing all of their tests.

  5. Pending Retest - Once the developer marks it resolved, a bug will remain in this stage until a QA tester begins retesting.

  6. Retest - Now, the actual retesting begins, where the QA team will run more in-depth tests to ensure the defect has been resolved as expected.

  7. Reopen - If a bug is not completely resolved, it will be marked as Reopened. This can happen if additional issues weren’t initially discovered or if they still need work overall.

  8. Verified - If a bug is fully resolved, the QA tester will mark it as Verified, indicating everything works as expected.

  9. Closed - Once the bug is fully resolved and no longer exists in the application, it can be marked Closed, which ends the lifecycle.

Alternatively, there are a few states a bug may end up in during investigation in the “Open” stage, it could be recategorized into one of these stages:

The developer may mark a defect as rejected if they feel the report isn’t fully accurate or the bug isn’t genuine.Testing takes a long time, and your organization may not have the capacity or time to resolve every single defect. If more time (or money) is needed, or the bug isn’t critical enough to warrant inclusion in the current release, it can be deferred for later.
DuplicateNot a bug
Occasionally, bugs can be logged by multiple developers. In this case, the duplicates will be marked as such, and only one report will go through the rest of the stages.Sometimes, a defect is just so minor it doesn’t need to be put through the entire process. If an issue holds very little significance to the program's performance, it can be marked as “not a bug” and ignored.

Refining Your Defect Life Cycle

As you can tell, there are plenty of steps in the average defect life cycle, making it a complex array of bugs in various stages within the cycle, and hope that everyone on your team is labeling them appropriately.

In a typical workflow, the stages between Opened and Fixed are a ton of manual work, and it can seem like a maze of different statuses. And there can be a lot of roadblocks that can stop your team in their tracks - or slow them down. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common issues:

  • Huge Amount of Test Failures - Dealing with test failures already is a pain, but it’s even worse when it’s en masse. It can be extremely taxing for a team to deal with all of these failures at once and try to figure out which ones need to be prioritized first. Any defects that aren’t mission-critical can gum up your pipelines, too, making larger issues potentially fall through the cracks.

  • Inefficient Triage Process - The entire triage process can be complex, slow, and clunky if you don’t take the time to set a proper system in place. Without one, bugs can get overlooked or fall between the cracks, leading to unstable releases or delaying your releases, which is never a good thing.

  • Identifying Recurring Issues - Your team can try its hardest to prevent duplicate bug reports, but it’ll never be a simple process. By using tools that can analyze and spot copies of these issues and help your teams save valuable time instead of chasing dead ends.

  • Delayed Problem Resolution - Teams still need to read the reports others make, including error logs and complex reports. If your team doesn’t have a solid plan for how these reports are written, poorly written or hard-to-decipher logs can cause a huge block in your defect life cycle and project timelines.

  • Extreme Cognitive Load - Tracking down and solving the source of software bugs can cause a huge strain on your team’s brains. Needing to sift through complex error logs and lengthy stack traces can dramatically impact your developer’s productivity, which can further slow down the process.

Automate Your Defect Life Cycle with Launchable

An efficient and successful defect life cycle starts and ends with having a solid process in place. But, as you’ve seen, a plan alone is not an effective solution alone. Launchable’s Intelligent Test Failure Diagnostics helps teams find and focus on what matters.

Filter out the noise.

Transform your complex, intricate error logs into concise and easily digestible insights. Teams can pinpoint what went wrong and start planning fixes. Identify duplicate issues before they enter the full defect life cycle, saving your team time and effort.

Get to the root of the problem, faster.

With Launchable, your massive, deep error logs can be trimmed down into smaller actionable points. Help your team identify and understand what went wrong faster, speeding up your overall defect life cycle, and maintaining speed throughout the project.

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