Software Testing Basics: Triaging for Bug-Free Software

by René Ceelen, on May 12, 2022


Although bug-free software is every development team’s goal, the complexity, interoperability, security, and functionality that customers expect mean bugs are practically inevitable.

Unfortunately, finding bugs isn’t limited to the software development stage. It’s common for users and developers to find bugs throughout the testing stages and even after the software is released. This is why having a structured approach to managing, triaging, and prioritizing your software bugs is so important. 

Although there is no secret formula or one-size-fits-all approach to triaging software bugs, there are still some best practices your team can follow to prioritize those that matter without drowning in a backlog of bugs.

Found a Software Bug? Take These Steps 

Whether it is a crash, broken workflow, data integration error, or anything in between, finding bugs in your software is an expected part of the development process. However, what your team does when they discover a software bug can set your group apart from the competition and maintain a productive, constructive mindset.

Once a defect has been identified, here are the next five steps to take:

1. Relax!

Whether you’re a seasoned development professional or a junior developer, no one likes to find out that there are issues with their work. So no matter the size of the issue, make sure you stay calm, emphasize a mindset of constructive criticism, and channel that energy toward documenting and resolving the software bug. 

2. Take a screenshot of the bug.

Although every team will have a different defect resolution method, one of the most important—and often the first—steps is to obtain a screenshot of the bug as soon as it occurs in the technical environment in which it occurred.

Having a screenshot of the issue, including the surrounding workspace of the application or testing platform, can help zero in on the error and the context surrounding it. 

Get expert recommendations for ensuring top-flight quality assurance in your  testing environment with our QA Guide >>

3. Document the conditions that led to the bug.

It can be tempting to take a screenshot of the bug and assume that a tester will remember the conditions that led to it, but you shouldn’t take the risk.

Use a defect tracking form or prompt for the tester to fill out about the bug, including:

  • Tester name(s)
  • Testing time
  • Preceding steps
  • Input data
  • Projected cause
  • Proposed priority or severity
  • Type of bug (e.g., design, security, functionality)
  • Operating system or platform 

4. Track it.

Leverage an enterprise platform to consolidate, organize, prioritize, and track defects from end to end. Whatever mechanism you use, develop and enforce procedures to ensure that all defects are recorded, prioritized, and triaged consistently.

Take it to the next level by selecting a defect tracking tool that can integrate with developer tools to prevent rework and data duplication.

5. Carry on.

How your team moves ahead depends on the lifecycle development stage. Next steps can include regular defect reviews for future releases or immediate remediation for upcoming testing cycles.

Whatever your approach, trust the process and your team to work together to deliver a strong product.

How to Prioritize Your Software Bug Remediation

Having an approach and structure to record and track software bugs will help with their prioritization. Different stakeholders will view defects as more important or complex to remediate than others, so having a predefined methodology will help you treat each bug consistently and objectively.

Other best practices for prioritizing software bugs include:

Make it a time-driven effort. 

Establish a regular meeting with your team or project sponsor to discuss the identified bugs, priorities, and plans. Use this time to confirm the information captured, create potential remediation plans, gain expert input, and determine time and resource requirements. The frequency—daily, weekly, or monthly—can depend on the urgency and scale of the project.

Have a prioritization matrix. 

Use a standard methodology for rating the priority of each software bug. Many organizations use a matrix that scores each bug based on its severity and frequency. Use criteria like the following to help determine a bug’s priority:

  • What is the impact of the bug on the overall functionality of your product? (i.e., Is the buggy feature “nice-to-have” or a key element?)
  • What is the level of effort to research, fix, and retest the bug?
  • Is a workaround available to mitigate the bug?

Find patterns. 

If your team is beginning to see common patterns in software bugs—such as those related to an operating system or tied to the introduction of a new feature, release, or type of user—consider evaluating and remediating these bugs as a group instead of one by one.

Move Closer to Bug-Free Software with TestMonitor

Quality assurance is a constantly evolving field, so being flexible and open to new tools and approaches can keep you on the cutting edge. 

TestMonitor brings all of the latest test management features and best practices together into one platform, giving your team the benefit of a tool designed with software developers and quality assurance professionals in mind. TestMonitor helps your team focus more on taking your products to the next level and less on the administrative details that can slow teams down.

Ready to learn more about how to mature your organization’s quality assurance function? Then take a moment to read our comprehensive resource, QA Testing Best Practices: A Guide for Software QA Professionals.

QA Testing: A Helpful Guide for Software QA Professionals

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