The ultimate bug tracking template

So your team is ready to start logging and resolving bugs in your codebase in order to build a better product, but you still don’t have a repeatable, reusable bug tracking template to work from. Unfortunately, that’s how mistakes happen...and keep happening. Without a reliable and simple tracking template, your QA process flow will never get off the ground. There are too many variables standing in your way.

One tester might mark something as “done”... while another might interpret that as “ready for live.” But “done” and “ready for live” can mean different things to different teams. Do you know your bug tracker status definitions? If you’ve got a team of programmers working on one issue—and no one managing the QA process—the margin of error will just keep growing.

That’s why you need a clear, repeatable tracking template to follow. But when you’re getting started, you don’t need to overcomplicate things. In fact, overly complex workflows and bug reports can set you back. Instead, you need to simply follow bug tracking best practices. Then, you need to establish one bug tracking method to follow. From there, you can select the right tool to help you do it all. Here’s an easy-as-pie tracking template you can use to get your team ready for issue management.

Step 1: Follow bug tracking best practices

The first step to creating the ultimate tracking template is to channel bug tracking best practices. Using these as your guiding light as you develop your bug tracker framework will keep you and your team motivated. They'll also ensure that your process never gets overly and unnecessarily complex. It shouldn't ever be hard to report bugs. The following three best practices are what we’d recommend to track bugs:

  1. Start small: When setting up your bug tracker process, remember that things will take time to get ironed out. The process isn’t going to be perfect from the get-go. Instead, start small and scale your process as you get the hang of it, introducing new options slowly as you build and rollout each bug fix.
  3. Ensure all changes are tied to a customer need: There are always going to be issues, defects, and features that need bug fixes. You cannot do everything, so when starting out, prioritize the changes and needs based on customer feedback. Don't forget. When customers reports bugs, they're really giving you free feedback to help you improve your product or service.

    The easiest way to make sure this happens is by using a tool that integrates both a help desk and issue management together so that you can track bugs and manage customer support all in the same app.
  5. Most importantly, keep it simple: This is your bug tracking modus operandi. When establishing your bug tracking process flow and framework, do your best to eliminate unnecessary complexities and options. Cutting out the excess will make the process easier to follow and more likely to be adopted by your team as you track bugs.

Step 2: Define your bug tracking life cycle

When setting up your bug tracker process, the most important step is to define the bug tracking life cycle. Establishing your definitions right off the bat is critical to ensuring consistency across your team and small business. What is a bug tracking life cycle, you might ask? From first discovery to completion, it’s the different phases that a bug goes through until it’s completely squashed. The bug tracking life cycle can shift from issue to issue. For example, some issues might require three to four rounds of testing and retesting just to make sure they are completely resolved.

Other issues might seem simple at first, but as you dig in you’ll find that you’re missing key information. As long as you keep your life cycle definitions consistent, you will find that, despite life cycle variations, you’ll be able to follow the same process for each bug fix. The bug tracking life cycle is comprised of two key areas: bug tracking statuses and the bug tracking workflow. Both are equally important to developing the ultimate bug tracking template. Let’s define both.

Bug tracking statuses:

The first part of defining your bug tracking life cycle is to list out all of the statuses that a bug must have in order to be resolved. With simplicity as our guidepost when it comes to bug tracking, here are the 13 statuses that we believe encompass everything you need to get your template off the ground:

  • Open: The assignee has not started on this bug.
  • In progress: The assignee is working on the bug.
  • Not a bug: This bug is no longer relevant.
  • Not reproducible: This bug can no longer be reproduced.
  • Missing information: This bug requires more information to continue.
  • Pushed back: This bug is being pushed back.
  • Ready for next release: This bug will be ready to retest on the next deployment.
  • Ready for retest: This bug is ready for testing.
  • Fix not confirmed: This bug cannot be confirmed fixed.
  • Closed: The bug is closed (but might not be fixed)
  • Fixed: The bug is fixed.
  • On hold: The bug is put on hold for some time later.
  • Duplicate bug: The bug is a duplicate of another.

The bug tracking workflow

Once you’ve defined all the bug tracking statuses, now you need to lay out exactly how a bug may flow from each status to the next. As mentioned earlier, the lifecycle from one bug to another may vary, and therefore your workflow should account for statuses that may need to be repeated. See the diagram below of some of the ways that a bug may flow forward and backward during the testing lifecycle:

Bug tracking template example

While this diagram may look overly complex, it’s actually quite straightforward. For example, it makes sense that a bug may get pushed back if it’s not an issue, not reproducible or missing information. From there the team will reassess and consider the next steps to move the issue to fixed or closed.

When creating your tracking template and defining the bug’s life cycle, it’s important that your team has a good grasp on how this flow works. Actually map it out and ask yourself:

  1. Will there be statuses where a bug absolutely cannot move backward?
  3. Are there statuses that a bug can skip if needed?
  5. Are there statuses that are absolutely mandatory, no matter the size or complexity of the issue?

Step 3: Create your bug tracking template tools list

Finally, now that you’ve channeled bug tracking best practices and defined the bug tracking life cycle, you’re ready to create your bug tracker tools list in order to select the right one that’ll put your tracking template into action.

Generally speaking, you don’t need a tool with a ton of enterprise features and complicated bug reports when you’re starting out. Instead, you need a tool that makes bug tracking simple, like DoneDone. Most businesses can get by and scale smartly by choosing a lightweight issue tracker for their business. The features that you absolutely need from any issue management system are as follows:

  • It should make logging issues easy: This is a no-brainer as you need a tool that doesn’t make solving issues harder for you (duh!); instead, you want a tool that lets you set statuses and priorities simply so you know what’s in progress, what’s done or what’s “done done.” Make sure that it is easy for users to submit bug reports as well. Equip your website with a form to submit bug reports when discovered.
  • It should address when each issue should be resolved: This can be done by choosing a bug tracker that has features like a calendar view with due dates. You want to be able to set deadlines and see what’s coming next so your team can prioritize.
  • It should show who is responsible for resolving a bug: Not only do you want to be able to clearly assign issues to team members, but you need a tool that lets you set “watchers” or those who should be informed of when the issue moves from one phase to the next.

Resolve issues with a simple, scalable bug tracker template

In the end, your business will always need a process for managing and resolving bugs. Build your tracking template by following best practices, defining the bug tracking life cycle and selecting a simple, scalable bug tracker. DoneDone’s pre-built tracking template helps you do all this and more. Built by developers and for developers, it’ll keep your team on track while ensuring things never get unnecessarily complex or arduous. Start your free 14-day trial today.

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