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Definitive Guide to Tracking Software and Application Bugs


Last Update: Dec. 20, 2023


When it comes to developing software or applications, perfection is usually the goal.

However, bugs and errors are almost an inevitability in any development process.

The most important factor is how these bugs are tracked, reported, and resolved.

Inefficient bug tracking can lead to delayed launches, increased costs, and a final product that doesn't meet quality expectations.

This comprehensive guide explores the workflow of tracking software and application bugs, explaining how you can streamline the process for better project outcomes.

Understanding Bug Tracking

Before diving into the workflow, let's define what bug tracking entails. A bug, in the realm of software and application development, is an error or flaw that prevents the program from functioning as intended.

Bug tracking, therefore, is the process of identifying, reporting, and managing these bugs until they are fixed and retested.

Why Bug Tracking is Crucial

Tracking and resolving bugs is crucial to the user experience, ensuring software or applications perform as expected and remain secure.

Effective bug tracking also enhances productivity, allowing developers to focus on building features rather than spending countless hours pinpointing elusive bugs.

Bug Tracking Workflow/ Guidelines

Here is a step-by-step guide to streamline your bug tracking workflow:

Step 1: Discovery or Identification

The first step in bug tracking is identifying that a bug exists. This process involves reproducing the steps that caused the unexpected behavior and documenting all pertinent information.

Testing, either manual or automated, is typically employed to discover bugs.

Step 2: Reporting or Logging

Once a bug has been identified, the next step is to create a bug report. It's essential to make your bug report detailed, including:

  • Summary: A succinct explanation of the issue.
  • Steps to replicate: A clear, step-by-step procedure to reproduce the bug.
  • Expected result: What should have happened if the bug hadn't occurred.
  • Actual result: What did happen when the bug occurred.
  • Attachments: Evidence such as screenshots, error messages, or logs can prove the existence of the bug.
  • Environment: Information about the environment where the bug occurred, like the device, operating system, browser version etc.
  • Severity and Priority: The seriousness of the bug and its impact on the functionality of the system, as well as its fix priority.

Step 3: Bug Sort

After the bug is logged, it goes through a bug sort process where it is reviewed and prioritized. The aim is to:

  1. Validate the bug: Ensure it’s replicable.
  2. Classify the bug: Determine the severity and priority.
  3. Assign: Designate a developer to fix the bug.

Step 4: Bug Assignment

The triaged bugs are then assigned to the appropriate team or individual for resolution.

While assigning, one must consider the bug's urgency, severity, the developer's skills, and workload.

Step 5: Bug Resolution

The assigned developer goes through the bug report and fixes the bug following appropriate coding standards.

This process may involve updating the code and running tests to ensure the bug is eliminated without creating additional issues.

Step 6: Verification

Once the bug is fixed, it has to be verified. The QA team retests the bug in different environments to validate the developer's solution.

If the bug is persisting, it needs to go back to the developers with additional feedback. If the bug is resolved, the status is updated to "verified."

Step 7: Closure

A bug that has been verified is formally closed. This stage involves updating the bug tracking system to reflect the closure, documenting what caused the bug, and how it was fixed.

Step 8: Post Release Testing and Monitoring

Post-release, it's essential to monitor the application continuously. Your customers can give you valuable feedback on any bugs missed during testing.

Choosing a Bug Tracking Tool

While it's possible to track bugs using manual methods like spreadsheets, a bug tracking tool or system can streamline the process, simplify collaboration, and increase efficiency.

They help isolate, track, and fix bugs efficiently, ensuring deliverables are of the highest quality.

The best tool for your team depends on your specific needs, your budget, the size of your team, and other factors.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bug Tracking Tool

Once you've identified your requirements, consider the following factors:

#1 Ease of Use

A bug tracking tool needs to be user-friendly for all users, from developers to project managers and QA testers.

An overly complex tool can lead to wasted time and poor user adaptation. Opt for a tool with an intuitive interface and a shallow learning curve.

#2 Flexibility and Customization

Each team has unique workflow needs. Choose a tool that allows for customization in bug report fields, workflows, user roles, notifications, and dashboards.

#3 Collaboration

Good bug tracking tools facilitate team collaboration. They should allow communication on bug reports, automatic notifications, task assignment, and concurrent access.

#4 Reporting and Analytics

Data-driven insights can help guide your development processes, so your tool should enable reporting and analytics.

Look for capabilities like custom reporting, real-time data updates, trend analysis, and project performance tracking.

#5 Integration with Other Tools

If your team uses other development tools, your bug tracking tool should easily integrate with them.

This can range from version control systems, project management tools, to CRM software.

#6 Cost

Budget is a significant factor for most businesses. Consider the software's price and evaluate if its value justifies the cost.

Remember to factor in additional costs such as training, maintenance, or upgrades.

#7 Scalability

Choose a tool that's capable of growing with your business. Ensure it can handle an increased workload, more projects, or additional users.

#8 Support and Documentation

Does the tool provider offer robust support and comprehensive documentation?

Ensure there's helpful user guidance, how-to guides, and prompt customer support when needed.

#9 Security

Your bug tracking tool should adhere to the highest security standards to protect your project data. Look for security features like encryption, user permissions, and two-factor authentication.


Effective bug tracking workflows are critical for ensuring the quality of software and applications.

It ensures that software or applications are not just functional, but they provide a seamless user experience that meets client expectations.

Developing a strong bug tracking knowledge base and relying on well-defined workflows can make this task less daunting and more effective.

While manual methods can be used for bug tracking, using specialized bug tracking tools offer more efficiency, speed, and precision.

By refining the bug tracking processes, software development teams become better equipped to handle project challenges, stay agile, and invariably succeed in this fast-paced, ever-evolving technological world.

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