Bug life cycle

How to efficiently manage bug life cycle in 8 simple tips

Hello! this post is about how you can efficiently manage software bugs during its life cycle in a more efficient way. If you are a software developer, production support technician or have a small business that deals with software development or production support, this will be a helpful post for you, where you will find tips and recommendations we would like to share with you based on our 15 years of experience working in IT.

First things first, let’s define what is a software bug?

Well, in IT the term “Software Bug” means basically an error, malfunction or unexpected behavior of a software system or application that can be caused by multiple factors like bad data entries, design or un-handled scenarios within the software program or application etcetera.

Where are Software Bugs?

Software Bugs are observed in multiple environments, decent software companies generally have at least 3 environments where software applications or systems are built, these environments are Development, Test and Production, Software Bugs can be found in every environment of the software company but generally they become critical when are found in Production environment just because they are one of the main reasons of having unhappy and frustrated customers or users. You should be familiar with the “Testers”, if no, well, let me tell you that these guys basically exists because of Software Bugs and quality assurance, they are always looking for errors, malfunctions or unexpected behaviors of the system trying to found them so they can be identified, understood and fixed before the production deployment.

Why you should care about Software Bugs?

Well, this is an easy one, all decent Software Companies should take good care of bugs just because less bugs means high quality software and more happy customers, happy customers means successful business.

Is there a way to get rid of Software Bugs?

Having zero Software Bugs means a perfect system and as far as we know there is no such thing, just because of the fact that software is developed and implemented by humans and humans are not perfect, we got distracted, we misunderstand business requirements, we struggle with communication and all of these issues we have and more are open doors for Software Bugs to come and make us have difficult times, so “No” software companies can’t get rid of bugs, so we need to face them and fix them.

Managing Software Bugs, 2 approaches: Working Hard vs Working Smart.

So there is no magical formula to get rid of all Software Bugs of your system, even if only one person designs the software application, same person test it and deploys it to production, still there is a chance of Software Bugs to appear in production, so you have to deal with them and find a way to fix them, but how can you fix bugs? Well, if you want to fix a problem you need to:

* Report the problem.

* Understand the problem.

* Design the solution.

* Implement the solution.

* Test the solution and make sure the bug is fixed

So right there you have the basic process of managing Software bugs, now the thing is, how you will manage this process is what will determine how painful or smooth is for your organization.

Managing Software Bugs Working Hard.

We often hear that we should always “Work hard” and we will get a reward of some kind, but in IT that is not always the case, at least not while facing Software Bugs. Let me explain in an example what work hard means in this context:

“Let’s say you deploy a new version of one of your software applications in production this night, and tomorrow you start getting calls from customers reporting that they are having problems using the application, then you ask more information to understand what the problem is so you can design the solution, you work very hard and finally fix the issue, next day same problem happens but you are out of the office, so another team member receive the call and needs to attend same problem, like you he/she works very hard asking for more information to understand the problem, doing the same research again and then designing the solution, follow same process until the problem is finally fixed, good job, problem fixed and so forth…”.

Like I said before, we are humans with errors, things like the example above happens more frequently than you expect, in this case working hard is enough to resolve the problem but there are better ways and this exactly the goal for this post, to show you simple tips that will transform your Software Bugs troubleshooting process from hard and difficult into smooth and efficient process.

Managing Software Bugs Working Smart.

Same example but now the smart way:

“Let’s say you deploy a new version of one of your software applications in production this night, and tomorrow you start getting calls from customers reporting that they are having problems using the application, then you ask more information to understand what the problem is so you can design the solution, you work very smart and finally fix the issue and document your solution, next day same problem happens but you are out of the office, so another team member receive the call and needs to attend same problem, like you he/she works very smart and check internal database knowledge system looking for similar problems, then your documented solution is found and instead of researching again, the fix is applied right away and solution is also documented, excellent job instead of good job…”.

Tips to manage Software Bugs more efficiently

If there is no way to get rid of Software Bugs and you have to face them any way, face them with working smart implementing following simple tips that will make your Software Bugs Management process smooth, easy to handle and more efficient:

1. Make sure Software Bugs are being reported by appropriate personnel. Depending on your business organization, you may want to allow Customer support personnel to be the only ones that are allowed to report Software Bugs, some businesses allow the customers and users to report bugs, the most important thing is that you need to avoid having multiple bug reports for same reason to avoid confusion and duplicate efforts within your technical support team.

2. Open a shared case or ticket for each reported Software Bug with priority. Make sure that the report is created in a system that allows appropriate team members to access that information, add and read relevant notes and consume and upload files 24/7 and from any location so they can collaborate and attend workloads more efficiently. You may want customer support, developers and technical support team members to access to this information. Also very important, always include a screenshot of the error, or at least an error description, but a picture worth 1000 words.

3. Make sure your team is aware of each reported Software Bug. Send a message to appropriate team members to let them know that there is a problem with the system that need to be attended.

4. Take extra time to document each solution properly. Ask your team members that when finding a solution, they prepare a document (using a template you define) in which they describe the following so other team members can understand how the problem or bug was fixed:

a. Explain Root Cause of the problem.
b. Add screenshots, or log messages subsets that help understand the problem
c. Explain the fix or solution.
d. Explain how the solution was implemented.
e. Show evidence of the solution test (when possible).

5. Build a knowledge database. Keep cases or tickets well documented in your knowledge database so multiple team members can find and re-use solutions for similar or recurring issues or bugs, also use this knowledge database to train new team members.

6. Associate opened cases or tickets to appropriate business reasons. Define business reasons for each software application or system you support so that cases or tickets are created for specific reasons you support, for example if you support “POS System”, then one reason may be “Error while collecting payments”, other could be “Network error”, “Sales Report Generation error”, etc… the goal is to provide a clue to your developers, technical support and customer support so that they can save time while doing the troubleshooting of the problem. Also this is a best practice since decent help desk systems uses these business reasons to assign opened tickets directly to the supervisor or manager in charge of that specific reason.

7. Make sure the fix or solution works. More than likely you have to find a way to make sure the solution for a problem works before you deploy it to production, this is highly recommended since you don’t want to make things worst, so make sure your team members tests all solutions and that after production deployment, the reporter confirmed that issue is being resolved, keep track of this issue in appropriate case or ticket.

8. Keep cases or tickets up to date. Generally when a bug is reported should be fixed within the first 24 hrs depending on its priority or severity, but sometimes it takes longer, so make sure assigned team member is providing periodically updates like notes or files to the case or ticket so you are able to provide quick status when the reporter asks for it, also make sure you and your team are treating the ticket reporters with respect and cordiality and that they are always informed of what’s going on with their report.

I hope you can take advantage of this tips and recommendations so you can have more efficient way to deal with software bugs.

Our best recommendation

Finally we have 1 more recommendation for you, use M@vDesk a HelpDesk, collaboration tool and task manager application in the cloud that will help you and your team to put in practice all tips and recommendations listed above, learn more about this powerful application and sign up for your free trial today with no risk, M@vDesk is simple, user friendly, ready to use, secure and affordable system that you can use to manage your Software Bugs troubleshooting process more efficiently.

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