Bug Tracking Best Practices Guide

If you’re going to write software you’ll undoubtedly run into a few bugs along the way. Here are some quick tips on how to efficiently manage and track those bugs!

Step 1: Make it easy

Good bug tracking begins with the robust management of your projects and releases; the better your setup, the less overhead you’ll be introducing to your team. Having a logically-structured approach to your project releases allows you to more readily handle unexpected changes or interruptions to your projects—including bugs. Using sticky notes, a notepad or spreadsheets makes it easy to record when you see a bug, but if you do this for a couple weeks you’ll quickly find out that the lack of organization causes more problems than it’s worth.

The best solution is to find a unified tool where defects can be monitored in a database and related specifically to other items such as releases. We’ve used our own flagship product to demonstrate the concepts we’re discussing here, and though we’d strongly recommend that your team use Axosoft for project management and bug tracking, these concepts should translate to whatever software you are using for tracking your bugs. If you’d like to start using Axosoft, you can start a free trial here.

Axosoft agile project management software

Step 2: Define your bug

When you start tracking bugs with software, defect templates are one of the first elements you’ll want to set up. Use this opportunity to simplify the experience and make sure to ask yourself questions like:

Remember that too many fields can be confusing and discourage people from reporting bugs, while too few fields may not effectively capture the key information. So, once you define your fields, try not to continually add fields every time someone has a new idea for one because chances are you’re overdoing it.

Examples of fields in a defect template
A defect template with multiple fields for collecting information

Step 3: Organize and secure your bugs

The best way to ensure team efficiency is to develop a clear organizational structure for your defect reports. This will quickly allow your team members to locate pre-existing bugs and run reports across groups of bugs. Things to consider:

These considerations will help automate your bug process in the most efficient way.

Filtering a defect backlog in Axosoft
Filtering a defect backlog by selecting the project Pure Chat and the release v1.0

Step 4: Set up a process for tracking

You’ll also want to consider the path your defects take through your organization. This will prevent reports from getting lost, ensure that everyone knows who is responsible for what, and make sure everyone knows the processes they should follow. Ask yourself these questions:

Example issue tracking workflow
An example workflow for bug tracking

Step 5: Make sure you have buy-in from your entire team

Finally, a good bug tracking database won’t be effective if your entire team isn’t using it. When the whole team is using the same system, your defects will be logged and addressed in a consistent manner, so it’s best to start off by getting all your stakeholders (developers, quality assurance, customer service, project managers, etc.) to evaluate tools and try to make a decision together. If you’re still struggling with getting everyone on-board, here are a few tips:

Effectively tracking your defects and bugs is one important aspect of having a robust, reliable and consistent project management framework. If you’re looking for fully-featured agile software to meet your needs—including bug tracking—start a free trial of Axosoft today.