In asking the question, what does defect tracking software accomplish, the answer may not be as obvious as it seems. Of course, defect tracking software, as the name indicates, tracks defects as its primary reason for existence. It is, more than anything, a simple database. But beyond that, there are several other reasons to incorporate defect tracking tools into the development cycle.
The defect tracking tool ultimately serves as a tool for prioritization as well—and to guarantee that no defect slips between the cracks and gets forgotten. In a large project, priorities must be assigned to every aspect of development, and within defect management, there are obviously going to be some flaws that need more attention than others. There may be flaws that are of a critical nature that need immediate attention, while others can be put on the back burner for attending to at a later time. Prioritization within the tracking tool will ensure that every reported defect gets the attention it deserves, and that no reported defect gets lost or forgotten—which would be very likely to occur without some sort of management tool.
Beyond prioritization, categorization is another important feature, which will lead to easier delegation of tasks, as well as avoiding duplication of effort. If there is a flaw, it is likely that more than one end user will report it. The categorization of reported defects will help eliminate the possibility of duplicated effort. It serves as a repository of information for developers in that when a bug report is received, the developer can easily search the database to see if the defect has already been reported or addressed.
The bug tracking software will also usually include useful features for collaboration, with features for sharing information between team members, and also for reporting back to the end users to made the reports or initiated the trouble tickets. Most will also have management capabilities, which will allow a project manager to assign responsibility for different defect-related tasks, and also to track progress over time.
Another usage for defect tracking software does not specifically relate to defects, but rather, new features that end users may desire. It is quite common for end users, after they start using a software product, to come up with several new feature ideas that the development team had perhaps not considered. Many of these new ideas turn out to be quite valuable commercially, and make worthwhile additions to later releases. The defect tracking tool may also be used to track feature requests. In addition to having an interface for reporting flaws, there may also be an interface for requesting new features.
And of course, the defect tracking software’s value as a customer service and satisfaction tool is invaluable. Having a tool to allow end users to provide feedback, report complaints and bugs, or request new features will enhance the company’s reputation, and ultimately lead to more sales.