Software and Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses have perfected the process of bug tracking. But how did they perfect it and where did it all begin?
Bug tracking or issue tracking has its roots in agile software development.
In the last few years, agile software development has gained immense traction across businesses, industries, departments and teams.
Originating as early as the 1970s, it wasn’t until the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001 that the term got its official name. Now, thanks largely to the rapid growth of software and software as a service (SaaS) businesses, agile software development has never been more popular.
At its core, agile software development is a strict, repeatable process that defines, estimates, plans, develops, tests and deploys product changes.
A very important part of this process is bug tracking.
What is bug tracking?
Bug tracking or issue tracking is the simple process of finding, reporting and handling errors or exceptions that happen in software.
In other words, it’s tracking the things that shouldn’t happen… and then fixing them in order to maintain a quality product and happy customers.
You might be wondering why bug tracking is even necessary. Can’t we just build a software tool that doesn’t break?
With every line of code that is written to build a software tool, the product grows in complexity. As this happens, the likelihood of human error increases along with it.
Sometimes it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s where bug tracking comes in—to catch potential errors before the code is pushed from staging to a live state and the customer complaints come pouring in.
Over time, as the product evolves and new features are created, technical debt piles up. While software teams must be agile in their process, at a certain point pragmatism kicks in.
Some bugs are discovered that require so much extra work to fix that they get put into the technical team’s backlog. Even as the team attempts to tackle the backlog, new bugs and issues keep piling up, and the cycle continues.
That’s why bug tracking is such an important aspect of the agile software development flow. Without it, none of your software tools would work.
But not all bug tracking is created equal. In order to effectively squash bugs to build better products, product teams need a solid task management system and a great bug tracking process.
Let’s talk about both.
What makes a solid bug tracking and task management system?
The first, most important aspect of bug tracking is having the right issue management system to help you do it.
Bug tracking tools have one purpose: help you organize, manage and solve issues. All information about a bug or problem should live within the task management system. It should be easily accessible by the product team so that they’re able to make the most informed decisions possible when solving the issue.
Information stored about a bug might include:
- The first time the bug was reported
- The effects and severity.
- Priority in the queue.
- Who reported the bug.
- What process the programmer or team took to fix it.
All of this exists alongside a great bug tracking process, which tracks the status of where the bug is at in terms of being fixed. More on that below.
The risks of not using a great bug tracking tool can be huge. For example:
- Important issues will get lost if bugs and tasks aren’t organized well.
- Teams waste too much time figuring out a fix or duplicate work can take place.
- Customers aren’t kept up to date on the progress of resolving the bug or issue.
- The team might not even realize an issue has arisen or that they’ve been assigned to fixing it.
- Reporting is non-existent or takes too long.
Thus, software companies must make sure they’re choosing a bug tracking tool with a robust set of features to mitigate these risks and help them resolve bugs quickly.
- Status and Priorities: Know whether resolving the task is in progress, done or “done done.”
- Bulk Editing: Send bug fixes in batches to save time and keep things organized.
- Calendar and Due Dates: Set deadlines and make sure that you have a view of what’s coming up so you can prioritize accordingly.
- Reporting: Keep track of how quickly your team is solving issues and squashing bugs.
- Filtering: View all or by themes to create a better story and understanding of core product issues and needed changes.
- Help Desk integration: Create a better customer experience by selecting a solution where the help desk and project management tool are one in the same.
What makes a great bug tracking process?
A great bug tracking process must be repeatable, manageable and collaborative. Any tool that you use should make this process dead simple.
For example, with DoneDone, product teams can create their own custom workflows to align with their given flow. This helps get teams set up and squashing bugs quickly while maintaining quality documentation and the ability to assign recurring issue types.
All in, there are three simple steps to any bug tracking process:
- Log and assign bugs to teammates: Track and assign every bug to a person and always add a priority status (Low, Medium, High, Critical) and due date for it to be complete.
- Test and verify the issue is fixed: Never ever skip the testing phase, otherwise this can compound issues or cause things to be missed.
- Push fixes live: Batch your issues when possible and push them all live together if they relate to the same overarching problem.
Simplicity is key to how software companies track bugs
At DoneDone, many of our clients are software and SaaS businesses, who use our simple workflows and task management system to resolve issues and bugs. Designed by developers for developers, you’ll find all the features above and more that’ll make bug and issue tracking a breeze.
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