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Best Practices for Logging Software Testing Bugs

Although software testers – especially those that are ISTQB or ISEB certified - are much more than simply bug hunters, it is still critical to log and track defects effectively.  This is almost a forgotten art in the software testing arena, and thus I thought it would make an excellent topic for today’s post.  Obviously every company has its own tools, philosophies, and processes, so not everything in this post will apply across-the-board.  Instead, these tips are simply meant to provide some perspective on some of the more common generalities I’ve seen throughout my career.

First and foremost, it is extremely beneficial to implement a centralized bug tracking tool that can be accessed by all the relevant parties.  Many such tools automate some aspects of the process, which serves to increase efficiency and reduce costs.  Additionally, their centralized nature helps build a knowledge base that enhances organizational learning, the aggregate of which will gradually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of subsequent projects over time.

Another best practice is to take screen shots of every step in the process (and yes there are automated tools that do this for you).  Whenever a test case fails due to the presence of a bug, it should be logged into the tracking tool and assigned a defect ID, which should then be affixed to the failed test case.  Aside from the applicable screen shots, the details of the reported defect should include things such as a description (including the expected vs. actual result), status (which will be ‘new’ when initially reported), the defect ID, the tester’s name, the project’s name, the date of detection, priority & severity, the name of the person to whom the bug is assigned, and the expected date of resolution.

If multiple testers are working on the same project, it is also worthwhile to make sure that the identified defect has not been previously logged.  This is important because the presence of duplicate defects raises costs and decreases efficiency.  Plus, the greater the number of irrelevant data points, the greater the propensity for errors to occur.

In the final analysis, the efficiency and effectiveness of most companies’ defect tracking processes could be improved.  Things such as deploying a semi-automated & centralized bug tracking tool, ensuring the proper level of detail goes into all defect logging reports, and verifying all new bugs to ensure they are not duplicative, can only help in this regard.

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  1. Key Benefits of an Online Defect Tracking System
  2. Software Testing: Not Just for Bugs

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