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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?
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:
Bug Tracking Process
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.
Key Considerations for Bug Tracking Software Buyers
Here are the top things to keep in mind when choosing a bug tracking solution:
- Powerful yet simple workflow. Workflow management is an important functionality of bug tracking software. An effective system will help you catch issues early and offer resolutions faster. To gauge the efficiency of the workflow, check how it helps you do the following tasks:
- Capture and report. The system should allow you to raise tickets, ask questions, discuss issues and share ideas on a centralized platform.
- Prioritize and assign. There could be a number of issues at one time. The solution you choose should help you create priority lists and assign the most important tasks first.
- Resolve and review. Workflows should be designed to help you push issues toward resolution. Additionally, an effective review system should be in place, which allows you to catch any bugs that may have slipped through the cracks.
- Ease-of-use. An efficient bug tracking solution is one that can be used with little to no special training. A simple dashboard with a drag-and-drop workflow helps employees—even those without any technical knowledge—create tickets and track their status. On the other hand, a cumbersome solution with functionalities that demand technical expertise of its users can be a tremendous strain on your company’s time.
- Open source or paid software. There are many free, open source software solutions available, but they come with certain limitations. For instance, you must host the software on internal servers and manage its maintenance. This is not much of an issue for small businesses, but as your business grows, you need a solution that automates the tracking of thousands of tickets. At that level, you need a flexible solution that can be customized to your needs and offers back-end support.
Your Guide to Top Bug Tracking Software, July 2021
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