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Bug Tracking Guidelines (by Randy Stimpson)

1. Bug reports should be recorded in a database that is managed by a bug tracking system and that is backed up on a daily basis. Each bug report represents the result of hours, maybe even days of work and is important company data which should be well protected and well organized.

2. Bug tracking works best in an environment where there is a daily build. This way testers aren't reporting bugs that have already been fixed. They are also discovering newly introduced bugs quicker while the code is still fresh in the mind of the developers that introduced them.

3. When applicable, build numbers should be used to specify what version of software a bug was found in, what version it was fixed in, and what version a fix was verified in. Revision numbers of source code modules modified to fix bugs are helpful notes for developers, but they aren't necessary to coordinate work between test and development. 

4. Bug reports should go through a process that ensures that they aren't closed if they shouldn't be. Such a process should require that the person who reported the bug be the one to verify that it has been fixed or to approve any other type of resolution. The typical bug report life-cycle would include the following status values: New, Assigned, Resolved, Verified and Closed, respectively.

5. To keep the bug report life-cycle simple, use a resolution field to specify how problems are resolved. Possible resolutions include: Fixed, Won't Fix, Not Reproducible, Duplicate, By Design and External.

6. Avoid using a committee or meeting to triage bugs reports. This will burn a lot of man hours that could be used fixing bugs. If the schedule dictates a triage, don't close bug reports in the meeting because this will circumvent the quality process by sidestepping testers that report bugs. Use the bug triage to reprioritize, postpone, or resolve as won't fix instead.

7. A bug report should include a step by step description on how to reproduce the bug. This reduces the amount of time developers have to spend trying to reproduce the bug before they fix it. Finding the minimal steps to reproduce the bug will save even more developer time.

8. Don't make bug reporting complicated by requiring entry of more data than is really necessary. If it's too much work to enter bug into the tracking system, some bugs won't be entered, or people may start going around the system and begin reporting bugs by email or word of mouth.

9. Keep track of how bugs are detected. This will help you determine how best to spend your testing dollars. Suggested choices for a detection method field include: Interactive Testing, Test Script Execution, Test Script Design, Unit Testing, Beta Testing and Customer Report. Hopefully the last two choices aren't your most productive ones (wink).

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Bug tracking doesn't have to be complicated

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