Agile Strategies for Managing Bugs
Traditionally in waterfall methodologies, the project life cycle follows a linear process neatly; defining the requirements of the project, the development phases, and then the testing stage. In this approach, regardless of how much effort and resources are poured into the development phase, some unforeseen bugs and issues are bound to prop up during the quality assurance stage. As opposed to this, the agile methodologies offer a fresh perspective for the tracking and organization of bugs. In the former practice, all defects and issues in the system would be delayed and passed on to the stabilization phase. Given that the stakes are high at this stage, the stabilization phase is often time-consuming and tedious, packed with long hours and high levels of stress.
Agile School of Thought for Bug Management
However, according to the agile school of thought, shouldering the bug debt for too long may come at the price of quality and high costs; it is unhealthy, and maybe even destructive in worst case scenarios, to postpone the bugs for too long. In fact, from the agile perspective, the practice of bug tracking should be replaced by bug fixing and management. One of the fundamental principles of the agile driven organizations is that quality should be considered as part of the cost and the quality assurance process should be deeply embedded in the development system. Hence, project managers should bear this in mind that any aspect or feature of the application cannot be completed and passed onto the next stage until all bugs and defects have been resolved. Contrary to the popular opinion, agile methodologies and practices prioritize bugs and defects in the system over new features. As per to this, if there are any persisting issues in the current feature of the component of the application system, then the development team should not move onto the next feature even if it is delayed.
These principles for agile driven approach for bug management are text-book and ideal, however, when it comes to implementation, all organizations and projects tend to deviate from them in one way or another. In reality, all new features of the applications have a bug tail and backlog that has to be triaged through an effective bug management tool by the project teams. At the end, it comes down to the priority and urgency of the defect persisting in the system; if the impact of defect or issue is minimal and does not affect the functionality or the performance of the application, then the development of a new feature might take precedence over the bug.
Agile Based Strategies for Effective Bug Management
As the software development landscape is shifting rapidly, the sprints and release cycles are getting shorter. This means that in a rush to meet the deadlines, the backlogs for bugs and defects keep getting full as new issues that prop up are swept under the rug, or ignored altogether. Cultivating an agile approach to cater to these challenges means that the project teams have to have the ability of making fast yet calculated decisions in order to boost productivity and increase efficiency in testing processes. Therefore, the defect management tools have to follow the same philosophy and principles of agile development methodologies.
One of the most understated methods of tackling the concerns of bug tails and quality issues is to give more ownership of the defects and issues to the developers. The level of ownership and autonomy that the developers have in the projects determine their ability and capacity to resolve issues that arise in the system. Even though the amount of autonomy and ownership that is allowed to the teams is contingent on the nature of the issues and project, however, when it comes to the delegation of tasks for fixing issues, alignment and ownership will always prove to be beneficial. In addition to that, it is of utmost importance for the project managers to allocate time separately to track and resolve bugs in the sprints so that extensive backlog of defects and bug overwhelm can be prevented. The best practice to avoid losing customers is to have measures and controls in place which allow the project teams to not only find but also resolve issues in the current sprint. Enhancing the collaboration efforts and bridging communication gaps between development and testing teams also goes a long way in reducing the defect backlog. If the developers and testers are on the same page, it is less likely for the bugs to slip through the cracks.