Reporting Bugs on Agile Projects

There are many strategies and approaches to bug reporting and tracking, but how do they hold up within an agile process? Agile facilitates close-knit teams and constant communication, but does that change the way that bugs should be handled? I reached out to our team to get their views on tracking and reporting on bugs during on an agile development team:

How have you handled reporting and tracking bugs on an agile team?

Jeff Bubolz

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Before you can answer the question about how to track bugs you must define what a bug is. In my opinion a bug is a deviation from the expected behavior of a done PBI. This means that deviations in expected behaviors on undone PBIs are not bugs. They are just additional criteria that needs to be completed before the PBI is done. I typically see teams have conversations about these items and fix them real time or add tasks to PBIs to track these deviations.

Software development is complex, bugs or deviations in expected behaviors will be found after PBIs have been marked as done. When this happens, the bug should be added to the Product Backlog and prioritized alongside all other PBIs and bugs in the Product Backlog by the Product Owner.

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Drew Tiedtke

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Streamlined defect reporting (and tracking) is an important component to providing a tight feedback loop within your development team. Defects should be communicated and tracked as efficiently and effectively as possible.

At the beginning of a Sprint, I’ve found it helpful for all to create a defect fix product backlog item (PBI). As the Sprint progresses, anything identified during testing that’s determined to be a defect is discussed with the team. The team then determines if the defect will be resolved in the current Sprint. If it will be resolved in Sprint, the details are communicated to the developer and added as a bullet item to this PBI. Notes are added with the defect details for tracking and clarity purposes. If a defect is identified that the team determines will not be fixed in the current Sprint, a separate PBI is created and the PBI is groomed and prioritized along with the others on the backlog.

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Matthew Wanke

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I have primarily handled bugs in two different ways in my time on agile teams. For most minor bugs I will simply show them to the developer(s) on my team and in many cases we have been able to work together and correct the issue immediately. In the event that the bug cannot be resolved right away or it will require further debugging or research I’ll use the second method. In this case, I will create a task on the sprint board for the PBI in question and include any relevant details (assumptions, steps to reproduce, notes from conversations with the team etc.). In the event that an issue is found that does not apply to the current items in the sprint, I will either add a task to a sprint feedback item if the team has one, or create a new PBI for the issue. In all of these cases not only am I creating tasks, but I am also keeping the other members of the team informed and aware of the issue.

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Dan Sloan

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When it comes to reporting and tracking bugs it comes down to two factors, Is the bug in sprint or out of sprint. Best case scenario we have an in sprint bug on a feature that is still being worked on. When this happens it becomes easiest to throw on the board as a task under that feature, and directly address with the developer. When it affects a feature that is out of sprint (or a one that was already called done) however, It becomes its own PBI and estimated/tasked as any other item on the board. The teams that I have worked on have been able to minimize tech debt and were able to prioritize out of sprint bugs at the top of the queue in the next sprint planning.

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Do you have an experience to share about how to track bugs effectively? Please let us know!

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