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Bug Tracking Software

Learn what to look for in bug tracking software, and how it can benefit your organization.

Trying to determine whether your organization would benefit from a software to track bugs and issues, learn everything you need to know below.


What Is Bug Tracking Software?

Bug tracking software is an application that allows for the reporting, logging, tracking, and prioritization of bugs, usually in a development environment. It can either be a standalone software, or part of a project management software.

What Happens When Software Bugs Are Found?

When software bugs are found they are typically: reported via the software, if the bug is known an instance is recorded, if unknown it is investigated with a priority set (eg: critical vs minor), the bug is then tracked from the backlog to completion via a tracker, at which point the bug report is closed.

What Features Should I Look For In Bug Tracking Software?

1. Easy Communication:

Communication should be made easy between the user and the developer. Chat, email, ticketing, notifications, requests for clarification, and bug status should be easily passed between the reporter and the person addressing the issue.

2. User Priority Ratings:

The user should be able to rate the importance of a bug based on the severity of the impact to them. As well as an explanation as to why it is an issue.

3. Developer Priority Ratings:

Ability for the developer to set their own priorities or override user set priorities and give their reason for doing so. This is important as many users report issues as being critical, when sometimes they might just be minor or even nice to have.

4. Task Assignments:

The user, the project manager, the developer, or all of the above should be able to assign tasks or bugs to certain people/developers. For example: if the bug is in the front-end, it can be assigned to a front-end developer, same for back-end.

5. Bug Evidence Documentation:

Nothing is more frustrating for a user or a developer than to have a bug reported but not be able to replicate it. Therefore the ability to add screenshots, screen record video, or other files that serve as evidence the bug does indeed exist is a key feature.

6. Easy Sorting Filters:

It should be easy for anyone to sort bugs by priority, due date, status (in progress vs completed), and whether it is a bug/feature/improvement. This makes it easy for the user, developer, or project manager to see what is in progress, what has been delivered, what still needs to be done, which release it will be in, and expected completion date.

7. Track Custom Fields:

You should be able to add custom fields so that you can document information that is most important for you. Whether it is the browser, operating system, application version, or anything else that might help identify and fix the bug.

8. Bug History:

Access to bug history is extremely important, not just for checking the status or updates on a reported bug, but also to speed up fixes in the event that a bug reoccurs or a similar bug happens at another point and time.

9. Bug Specific Notifications:

Being able to assign watchers or owners to each bug is extremely important to prevent your entire team from getting notified for each and every status update. Usually you will want the reporter, owner, and developer to be the only ones getting notified of changes, not the entire team.

10. Time Stamps For Everything:

Without timestamps, there can be a lot of confusion. Was a comment made after the bug was fixed and closed? Was the ticket reopened unnecessarily? Was new information provided after work starting on correcting the issue? These confusing issues can be addressed with proper time stamping.

11. Merging Or Linking Bugs:

Some bugs are part of a larger issue, or they have already been reported by another user in a different ticket. Having the ability to link issues together or merge the issues entirely can make life a little easier for everyone involved.

12. Search Capabilities:

Filtering is not always enough to find what you are looking for. Not only do search capabilities enhance the user experience in any bug tracking software, from our experience they also reduce the number of tickets created for bugs that have already been reported.

13. Bug Status Tagging:

Some systems only provide open and closed statuses. More robust systems can allow you to add custom statuses or choose from a variety of built in statuses (fixed, will not fix, can not reproduce, in progress, backlog, etc.,). This tends to be a lifesaver both for users and for filtering results.

14. Detailed Information:

Some bugs are obvious and apparent, others need a more detailed explanation. Yet some systems limit the number of characters in issue fields, or force users to explain the issue with drop down choices. Letting users provide more details via a detailed information field can substantially reduce back and forth.

15. Reporters Contact Info:

Being able to have a developer quickly reach out to the person who reported the issue via in-app chat or email can speed up the response time and decrease the time it takes to fix the issue.

16. Privacy:

If someone finds a security vulnerability or is screen capturing an issue on a page that contains private or confidential information, you want to make sure you are not broadcasting information that you do not want shared. Therefore a key feature is being able to mark issues as private only to the reporter and the development team.

17. Reminders:

There should be reminders automatically sent to your development team on a regular basis for any issues that are assigned to them (or unassigned) in order to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

18. Due Dates And Release Dates:

Due dates, expected completion dates, and release dates are all extremely important features that should not be overlooked. They not only provide transparency into when issues are expected to be resolved, but also when the fixes can be expected (which release) to be reflected in the software itself. Sometimes a patch is complete but not released to production.

19. Multiple Software Seats:

Unfortunately most bug tracking software tries to upsell you by charging for additional seats. Nothing is worse than only having one seat for a user and one for a developer. Look for software that offers the number of users you need to properly QA.

20. Optional External Access:

If a client and not an employee reports a bug, you might want to be able to share the bug status with them or their team. This sometimes requires external access that not all software provides.

What Are The Advantages Of Bug Tracking Software?

1. Faster Bug Resolution:

With bug tracking software, issues tracking begins as soon as reported and can be instantly reviewed and assigned to the person best able to resolve them. This leads to faster resolution of bugs, more bugs being resolved, and overall faster delivery of a completed project. It also means that due to the ease of reporting bugs more bugs are reported and resolved which leads to an overall better product.

2. Transparency:

Bug tracking software can help put your team’s mind at ease as everyone knows what bugs are being worked on, what bugs have been completed, what bugs need further investigation, who is reporting the bugs, and who is working to find a solution. This eliminates the guesswork with regards to when bugs will be fixed or what priority is being given to the issue.

3. Accountability:

With each and every bug assigned to a particular developer, team member, or team, there is increased accountability when bugs stay unresolved or when deadlines are not met. As a developer, knowing that you are responsible for addressing certain issues, allows you to prioritize your work to try and tackle the most critical and time sensitive bugs first.

4. More Efficient Development And Better ROI:

By identifying critical issues and allowing your team to focus on the highest priority bugs first and the lowest priority bugs last, you will be able to get major hurdles out of the way sooner and complete projects faster. At the same time, as issues are resolved they become a repository for future developers as the knowledge on how the issue was resolved can later be applied to future problems. This leads to higher productivity and a more efficient team, which in turn means more ROI from your development spend.

5. Better Team Collaboration:

The development team has historically been very siloed. Through bug reporting, chat, email chains, and issue clarification your development team can better collaborate with the end user of what they are developing. This typically leads to teams working together to find solutions to problems, rather than just passing the issue off to someone else with the hope that it gets fixed eventually.

6. Centralized Tracking:

As unfortunate as it may be, people leave, issues get lost, and things fall through the cracks. However with a bug tracking tool in place, bugs and their fixes reside in the system well after employees have changed jobs or simply gone home for the weekend. Likewise, if a reporter leaves the company, their bug still gets fixed even if they are no longer an end user. That is the big advantage of bug tracking software, is it allows for everything to be housed under one roof.

7. Identifying Trends:

Company A noticed a massive spike in bugs reported every Thursday at midnight and continuing until early Friday morning. Turns out the bugs being reported were not due to a bug in the software itself, but rather a server issue being caused by a bug when completing weekly backups (you guessed it!) every Thursday at midnight. Having all bugs stored in one central location can allow you to identify trends and perhaps even catch potential issues preemptively.

8. Higher Customer Satisfaction:

More often than not the person reporting a bug is a customer and not a co-worker. Letting them know that their issue is being treated as high priority and is being worked on by a member of your team, avoids them feeling like their complaints are falling on deaf ears. This results in higher customer satisfaction and fewer customers leaving.

9. A Better Overall Product:

Faster bug resolution, more accountability and transparency, better team collaboration, centralized tracking, all lead to one thing. A better overall product. That is why a company that has bug tracking in place will consistently develop products that delight customers at a much higher rate that those who do not track or address issues.

Who Uses Bug Tracking Software?

Bug tracking software is typically used by a project manager, quality assurance teams, developers (who fix issues), as well as customers or end users. The project manager tracks which bugs are being completed, the quality assurance teams report issues often before the product is released to the end user, the developers fix issues that are flagged, and the end user (or customer) reports bugs found during real-life product usage.

What Is The Difference Between A Software Bug And Improvement?

Although often used interchangeably, a software bug is something where development has been completed and the software is not working as intended. Whereas a software improvement is where development is completed but improvements could be achieved by planning future changes.

For example: If submitting a form results in an error instead of a valid submission, that is a bug. If submitting a form successfully submits the form and shows a success message, but in a future release they want to show a separate thank you screen, this is an improvement.

What Is The Difference Between A Software Bug And An Issue?

An issue is a broad term which usually encompasses bugs, improvements, requests, and errors. An issue could be changing the color of a button (request), or this text should be made bigger (improvement), or this is not working as it should be (bug).


About The Author:
Written By: The AppIntent Team
Published On: 2021-10-10
Last Updated: 2021-10-22
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