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by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: January 7, 2017

Bug tracking software allows teams to track and resolve bugs that arise during a project. These systems help centralize and standardize issue management processes. They are most often used for software and web development projects.

This guide will help you understand the role of bug tracking tools within the larger project management market, so you can make a more informed purchase. We’ll cover:

What Is Bug Tracking Software?
Common Features of Bug Tracking Software
The Vendor Landscape
Benefits of Bug Tracking Software

What Is Bug Tracking Software? 

Similar in function to task tracking solutions, bug trackers are specifically designed to separate bugs from regular project tasks and prioritize them appropriately. Capabilities vary, but these systems typically follow these steps:

Submit: Work order is created by a project team member, or through an IT ticketing system or emailed service request from a customer or end user.

Process: Bug is assigned to a team member, prioritized by importance and labeled according to status, e.g., “new” or “reopened”. The system classifies the bug, e.g., “security” or “user interface.”

Track: Employee tries to resolve the problem and provides frequent status updates, e.g., “blocked,” “testing” or “reviewing.”

Report: Bug tracking systems can offer valuable information about issues, how quickly they’re resolved and more. These insights help in planning future projects.

Common Features of Bug Tracking Software

Common capabilities of bug tracking systems include:

Custom fields Ability to customize fields, views and workflows to your team and business needs.E.g., add a corresponding customer ID number to bugs submitted by customers.
Time tracking Tracks time to resolution: how long the bug has been open, if it's past due, percent complete, etc.
Collaboration tools Upload files to tickets, post comments and receive email or in-app notifications. Some platforms include interactive discussion forums with similar collaborative capabilities.
Dashboard View individual or team dashboards to monitor status and progress of open bugs. Some platforms include an activity stream or notification center on the dashboard.
Reporting and analytics Track progress of open bugs and milestones reached. Visualize and document trends regarding the quantity, severity and category of bugs, team productivity and more.
Knowledge base Centralized repository of solved and unsolved bugs with notes about resolutions etc. that teams can refer to, learn from and add to.
Integration with code repositories Connect code repositories (e.g, Git or SVN) to bug tracking software so source code updates from the repository are automatically reflected in the bug tracker.

The Vendor Landscape

Bug tracking software is available in both on-premise or cloud-based solutions. Typically, bug tracking can be purchased in one of the following ways:

Offered in suite,as one application included as part of a comprehensive project management (PM) system. Purchasing a PM platform that includes issue management helps ensure that bug tracking is fully integrated with other key project management processes, such as scheduling resources and project tracking. This integrated environment allows data to transfer seamlessly between applications, increasing visibility and keeping everyone on the same page. Some examples are:

Best-of-breed, or stand-alone. A business may choose to purchase bug tracking best-of-breed for several reasons. For example, their current PM platform may not offer bug tracking—or, perhaps it does, but doesn’t have all the features their team needs. Businesses purchasing best-of-breed solutions should first ensure the bug tracker integrates with the other software systems their team uses: Namely, their PM platform, but also their code repository or communication tools, such as Slack. Examples of this include:

Additionally, because bug tracking tools are critical for software development teams—who typically use agile project management methods—it is commonly included with Scrum and Kanban project management solutions. For example:

Benefits of Bug Tracking Software

Bug tracking software provides teams with several benefits, such as:

Improved organization: Work order requests and resolution strategies are centralized and automated, adding structure to team workflows and standardizing bug management strategies.

Increased productivity: Assignments and progress toward resolution are displayed on dashboards, making it obvious if someone falls behind or if bottlenecks occur. Users know what bugs they are responsible for, and the priority and due date. This helps increase project efficiency and improve performance.

Useful insights: Reports and analytics help create permanent project and issue management records that can influence future business decisions.



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