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The Necessity of Organizational Bug Tracking

Many companies are woefully inadequate when it comes to their ability and willingness to track software bugs from project to project, even those employing a large number of ISEB or ISTQB certified testers.  Most do a good job of tracking bugs within specific projects, but do a poor job of tracking all bugs from an organizational perspective.  The same companies that use tracking software to manage call centers often fail to see the need for similar tools in their software testing departments. 

The main reason it is important to track and analyze bugs at the organizational level is because it helps build a knowledge base and subsequently promotes process improvement.  You cannot improve what you cannot measure.  By not tracking bugs from project to project, companies are not able to identify organizational flaws.  Without identifying these flaws, it is not possible to identify areas for improvement or incorporate best practices into the testing process.  Said another way, it prevents organizational learning.

The shame of it is that tracking tools are not expensive and are easy to implement.  Many third party tools will automatically capture the nature of each bug, the impacted party, the date the bug was revealed, the attempted solutions, and more.  These tools can also help analyze the data, which can be useful in terms of identifying common root causes, fixes, and design flaws. 

Once the tracking tool has been in operation for a fair amount of time, the commonalities and bug patterns can be used to build a knowledge base, which testers for future projects will be able to tap into to solve common problems quickly. 

The bottom line is that companies evolve primarily through measuring and analyzing results, and this is no different for software testing.  Thus, organizational bug tracking is critical and should be done by all companies, no matter how big or small they may be.

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