About Defect Tracking Tools
Defect tracking tools are licensed or hosted software applications that are designed to help the quality assurance and application developers in the organization keep track of reported software bugs in their development. By tracking and resolving software bugs at the time and point at which they occur, companies are growing increasingly smarter about the way they develop and maintain their product in the face of increasing competition.
The business benefits of leveraging the quickly evolving capabilities of defect tracking tools are rapidly being realized. Today, companies ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 500 giants are using some form of defect tracking tools as an integral part of their issue management initiatives to benefit their users and increase their productivity.
What Defect Tracking Tools Are Available?
Many defect tracking tools, such as those used by most open source software projects, allow users to enter bug reports directly. Other systems are used only internally in a company or organization doing software development. Typically, defect tracking tools are integrated with other software project management applications.
Up until now a major characteristic of a defect tracking tools has been a database that records facts about known bugs. Facts may include the time a bug was reported, its severity, the erroneous program behavior, and details on how to reproduce the bug, as well as the identity of the person who reported it and any programmers who may be working on fixing it. However, with today’s cost and reduced time to market pressures, strong defect tracking tools need to be much more robust and configurable.
What to Look For in Defect Tracking Tools
- Supports the complete lifecycle for a bug, which is tracked through status assigned to the identified defect.
- Should allow administrators to configure permissions based on status, move the bug to another status, or delete the bug.
- Allow administrators to configure the bug statuses and to what status a bug in a particular status can be moved to.
What Should Good Defect Tracking Tools Do?
Ideally, an effective and efficient Issue and Defect Management solution should automate the capture, routing, collaboration, and resolution of issues and defects—going beyond the dated, traditional tools that have existed for years and do little more than serve as bug databases. This ensures that:
- Issues are efficiently captured and managed to resolution, saving money and minimizing risk.
- Development activities are coordinated across different people, teams, and systems in a fully automated, repeatable way. No known issues fall through the cracks.
- All of the people who are involved in a development project have the right information at the right time.
- Visibility into the software development process eliminates unproductive email threads and increases stakeholder satisfaction.
- A complete audit trail to keep you in compliance with internal and external regulatory mandates.
In short, defect tracking tools should be built to adapt to the rigors and rapidity of modern application development. Unlike traditional tools that are little more than bug databases, a good Issue and Defect Management tool should be designed and implemented for today’s globally distributed teams. With an enterprise-class workflow engine at its core, Issue and Defect Management should go far beyond simply tracking issues. Instead, it should automate the entire issue management process.
Common Features of Defect Tracking Tools
More and more, today’s defect tracking tools are responding to the changing demands of a global marketplace. Vendors know, for example, that companies are growing increasingly tired of having to adapt their development processes to accommodate their development applications, and these solution providers are coming out with end-to-end solutions that let you more readily configure the application to do what you want to do. Some of the leading industry solution trends in defect tracking tools include:
- Battle-testing—issue tracking and defect management tools are now being battle-tested by some of the largest development teams in the world.
- Web-based user interfaces that makes it easy to keep a company’s development process running like a well-oiled machine, whether their team is in the same room or spread across the globe.
- The ability to connect a company’s issue management flow to test cases in an existing application suite, like Quality Center or support cases from Salesforce.com.
- A visual designer that lets businesses easily connect to other systems and dynamically display content from other systems or web pages.
- Process flexibility because every development team needs to manage bugs and enhancements, but they don’t all manage them the same way. Products are available that let you easily customize your process to fit the way you work – so there’s now no need to change how you work to fit the tool.
- Full integration with version control, so that developers can know what code was changed to fix a bug or implement an enhancement. This allows you to control those changes.
- Traceability features that give companies the ability to obtain easy access to the life cycle of a bug, making root-cause analysis easier, more time-efficient, and cheaper.
- Visibility features that let developers track and display information such as who owns an issue and what state the issue is in. Email notifications then can keep stakeholders informed of changes to any issue.
Moreover, any solution should be researched and deployed with an eye toward:
- Making sure that your entire team is kept well informed and aware of deadlines.
- Facilitating a collaborative process that maintains visible, prioritized and manageable issues.
- Delivering optimal workflow by maintaining proper ownership and keeping individuals aware of their most immediate responsibilities.
- Structuring action items so that they can be grouped, reviewed and summarized instantly, at any time. This includes details, instructions, attachments and anything else that is needed to comprehend or reproduce a problem. A full history is always available for review or to see how similar situations were resolved in the past.