bug tracking

Bug Tracking Disorders May Result in Compulsive Counting

image credit: http://j.mp/wRWveO

So, how do you handle your bugs?

Finally, we don’t have to talk to each other anymore. Why should we? We have a bug tracking tool now. It’s called “Brave New Bug 1984” . Everything goes in there. Even the slightest suspicion is reported. Unit and integration tests that fail result in a report in the tool. That is something we the noble quality police fought hard for. And we have set high goals for ourselves. The next step will be that even if a developer e.g. makes a typo - something like: accidentally typing two closing brackets - he/she can no longer just correct it. It must go in the bug tracking tool. And then we will issue metrics and reports. About every single developer. We exactly know who the bad apples are, and then we can talk to HR directly, and we will fire people, and…[Interviewee starts to salivate]
Have you lost your mind?

That’s right. This is the voice of madness. And hopefully there is no company that practices bug tracking that way. But - who knows - if it exists and you work there, then do yourself a favor and quit your job today.

Most of us use a tool to track bugs and I have a question: Why? What is the reason to use a tool for bug tracking? Hmm?

Our brains are very good at being creative, socializing with our friends, playing cards and drinking a beer. Not so good at keeping updated lists in our heads. That is where a bug tracking tool comes in handy. It outsources our list keeping. So, the bug tracking system prevents us from forgetting about things. Bugs, in this case.

But does that mean that every single little thing in every single little situation must go in the tracking tool? What about tester feedback from exploratory testing sessions at the daily stand ups in an agile environment? Is it really necessary to have it all in a tool? Maybe so, maybe not. Just decide for yourselves. Maybe even have some of the bugs tracked and others not. I don’t see it as an either this or that game.

Another made up reason for being strict about handling all bugs in the tool could be that you as a test manager are fond of reporting the total number of bugs in a project. “We have found 53’732 bugs during this project”. My reaction to that: “So what?”

Compulsive counting is something we used to do as school boys. In our case we used to brag about being in possession of 53’732 different posters from discotheques. You know, we used to drive around with our mopeds and take discotheque posters off the walls. They looked like this:


Ridiculous, isn’t it? But excused, because a weak beard growth does not really help being sensible.

So don’t become this compulsory counting freak in your company and if you feel like reporting any number then be sure it has some meaning. However, the number of bugs found does not inherently have meaning. It does not say anything about the quality of the product.

BTW: This very old article by Joel Spolsky is quite a good read and still valid.