4.8. Managing Bug Tracking

When projects are in a test execution phase, I probably spend 10 to 20 percent of my time working with bugs, either those already reported or those about to be reported. Because testing should mitigate quality risks, and because a bug report documents the transition of a quality risk into a failure mode, I consider bug reports the most important "product" of the test effort. Time devoted to understanding and managing bug data is time well spent.

The preceding section on metrics might have given you the impression that managing bugs consists mostly of analyzing data and gleaning meaning. I wish it were! You'll soon discover two other areas of concern. The first is staying aware of the politics and potential misuse of the bug data. The second is dealing with certain types of problematic bug reports that can consume a disproportionate share of your time.

4.8.1. Politics and Misuse of Bug Data

Chapter 9 deals with management considerations and the politics of the test manager's position in detail. Here, however, we should briefly examine political issues that are specifically related to bug data. From the most adversarial point of view, for example, you can see every bug report as an attack on a developer. You probably don't—and certainly shouldn't—intend to offend, but it helps to remember that bug data is potentially embarrassing and subject to misuse. Candor and honesty are critical in gathering clean bug data, but developers might distort the facts ...

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