Software development as a function is incomplete without defect tracking—defects are an unpreventable part of the software development process. Developing software for critical business functions can end up being a telling factor in how customers and end-users experience the product and can often determine whether future business prospects are fruitful or not.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand what a defect tracking tool is and why they are crucial to the product development process.
What is a Defect Tracking Tool?
Defects are flaws or errors in a product that causes it to stop working, malfunction, or crash. Defects are introduced into the product through various methods such as coding errors, buggy third-party applications, human error, lack of version control, etc.
Defects are usually identified and flagged by the customer or end-user of the product. Naturally, defects have a negative impact on the way customers experience the product, and in extension have a definitive effect on brand image and perception. But while defects are unavoidable, the ability to identify defects early, collaboratively resolve them and relay patches in time can rescue the experience and reduce churn.
A defect management tool plays a crucial role in ensuring sufficient software testing is done before every product release. Essentially, it is a platform that helps software testing and development teams raise defect tickets, track cases from start to finish, investigate root causes, determine an appropriate plan of action, collaborate with teams, and resolve them in a timely manner.
The Defect Tracking Process
Defects are usually identified by the end-user during beta-testing, or in a live production environment. They are then brought to the attention of the product development team who then raises the defect ticket.
Logging and assessment:
Once defect tickets are raised, it is assigned to a developer, who examines the level of impact and assesses severity. Defects can range from minor defects to medium impact, high priority, or critical defects.
Root cause analysis:
In order to determine the right course of action, developers have to understand the root cause. Fixing the defect without root cause analysis can lead to more severe defects or improper closure.
After identifying the root cause and determining action, the development team will work on fixing it. In most cases, repairing a bug requires a flexible approach and requires an in-depth knowledge of the defect troubleshooting process.
The defect or bug tracking process does not end after a hotfix is created. It needs to be tested and tested repeatedly. Only then can it be determined if the hotfix actually addresses the problem.
Defect tracking and management is a data-rich process. Data collected from the tracking process can be used to improve efficiency, eliminate bottlenecks, and be documented for future reference.
Benefits of a Defect Tracking Tool
Defect tracking is a highly technical and error-prone process. Needless to say, it cannot be managed using outdated tools or spreadsheets. It needs a dedicated solution to ensure complete transparency, improved productivity, and smarter collaboration. Here are a few benefits of using a defect tracking tool:
High quality of the product:
If there is one thing a defect tracking system impacts immediately, it is the quality of output. An agile defect management tool brings development, testing, and QA workflows within a single interface and ensures all the defects that have been identified end up actually being resolved.
Improve product ROI:
A defect tracking tool improves product ROI in two ways. On one hand, it helps development teams focus on the issues that are more critical to the customer experience than minor issues. And with crippling issues out of the way, customers are able to engage with the product better. On the other hand, issue tracking also generates a whole host of data that can be analyzed immediately for process improvements as well as used as a reference for future iterations thereby reducing development cost and time.
The defect tracking process, like most other functions, draws patterns over time. Analyzing these patterns makes it easy for developers and testers to respond quicker to frequently raised issues and use historic defect information to quickly arrive at root causes and determine the right course of action without unnecessary delays.
Identifying areas of improvement:
As a follow-up from the previous point, trend analysis also helps identify which areas are most susceptible to errors and defects. Analyzing defect distribution by department function and agent helps identify which areas need attention and who among the development, testing, QA, or deployment teams needs training.
Customer service and retention:
Bug and defect tracking efforts have a direct emotional impact on how customers perceive the brand. The effectiveness of bug identification, tracking, and resolution tells customers they are being listened to and their concerns are being taken seriously. While defects are inevitable, resolving them and keeping customers informed have a crucial role in influencing potential business opportunities and go a long way in impacting customer retention.
5 Must-have Defect Management Software Features
A dynamic form builder:
Resolving or fixing a defect hinges greatly on the information collected on the onset. As defects are reported, the case manager needs to collect incident information and process that information to determine the root cause of the problem and decide the best course of action. In order to do this effectively, a simple form builder with default fields simply will not do. A defect management system should be equipped with a form builder that lets the case manager fetch relevant data, input complex information, and present said data to the relevant teams when required.
Prioritization is a crucial part of the defect management process. As defects surface, they have to be validated and prioritized based on severity and impact. A defect tracking software should be able to aid the case manager in drawing in context, collating information on the location of the defect, and assessing impact. This way, they are able to focus on the most important defects and resolve them first before turning their attention to less critical ones.
Addressing a defect is not a one man job. Once the case manager arrives at the location of the defect and root cause, the defect ticket has to be routed to the appropriate team for resolution. And once the team has created a patch or a bugfix, it has to be tested and retested before being dispatched. A defect tracking system should help the development team assign tasks and subtasks to various teams and make contextual decisions to bring about fast and satisfactory results.
Alerts and notifications:
Defect tracking is a time-bound process. As defects move along the life cycle and towards resolution, the status of bugs have to be updated in real-time to ensure those involved are kept appraised. Alerts and notifications also come in handy when problems are escalated and need the intervention of managers or higher-ups. A defect reporting system should be able to keep everyone involved in the know as well as keep customers informed of the change in status or in the event a defect has been resolved.
Reports and analytics:
An organization’s defect tracking process, like every other process, can be improved. At first, every process is riddled with inefficiencies and redundancies. In order to improve efficiency and performance, it is crucial that development and testing teams are able to analyze the data generated within these processes and make system improvements at regular periodic intervals. A defect tracking system should be able to display performance metrics, curate customizable reports, and drive these improvements to reduce operational costs, eliminate bottlenecks, and improve product ROI.
Defect tracking, without doubt, is a crucial component of the product experience. An effective defect tracking process can be the difference between a favourable NPS score and an unsatisfied customer.
An agile defect management software like Kissflow Workflow can not only improve the effectiveness of defect tracking and resolution but can help developers and testers work more synchronously and improve customer experiences.
What are you waiting for? Try Kissflow Workflow for free.