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Defect Management in Software Testing

Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack -

In a perfect world where testers’ lives are actually easy, software is developed and passed through comprehensive verification on real devices quickly, efficiently, and without any flaws. Devs are happy, as are testers and most important, the end-users.

But since we do not live in a perfect world, testers must deal with innumerable bugs, defects, and flaws before a website or app is considered suitable for public usage. Since users expect nothing short of excellent, they cannot afford to let any bugs escape the QA process unresolved.

Given that modern software is invariably complex and multi-layered, it is built on mountains of code and intertwined programming languages. This usually results in the occurrence of numerous bugs, all of which need to be identified, documented, tracked, and fixed. Needless to say, this can be a complicated and time-consuming task without the right strategy and tools in place.

This is why defect management is a fixture in software testing pipelines. Without the right defect tracking tools and defect management process, bugs will inevitably escape into production. This will adversely affect user experience, damage credibility, and possibly lead to negative reviews that will discourage further usage.

This article will take readers through the basics of the defect management process and its role in creating usable, appealing, and value-driven software.

To begin with, let’s define a defect.

What is a defect?

Think of a defect as a deviation from expected software behavior. In other words, if a website or app is functioning differently from what users would expect from it, that particular variation would be considered a defect.

In software testing circles, the term defect is often used interchangeably with a bug. However, there is a technical difference. A bug is a defect that results from an error or some issue in code. This is not true for all defects.

What the two have in common is that they both need to be identified and fixed by testing teams.

Note: In this article, the terms will also be used interchangeably.

Features of Defect Management

  • Defect Identification

One cannot manage bugs that one cannot see. Testers have to start with identifying every single defect in a website or app. Bear in mind that the only way to detect every defect is to test software in real user conditions. Don’t bother with emulators or simulators because they cannot provide 100% accurate results, and therefore testers and QA managers won’t be able to evaluate the testing process with precision. Testers are bound to miss bugs without testing on real browsers and devices.

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Testing teams must find as many defects as possible so that they can be acknowledged, categorized, and resolved by developers.

In order to identify and categorize defects, it is important to have a singular, accessible system that all testers can have at hand to see. When choosing among defect management tools, look for these features in particular.

  • Defect Categorization

Once defects have been identified, ensure that the right defect data has been captured. Quality of data allows testers and developers to fix exactly what went wrong in the least amount of time. Don’t collect too much data, because developers don’t have the time to comb through mountains of information to figure out what they need to work on.

The correct information that needs to be recorded with regard to each defect should include

  1. Description
  2. Bug Severity
  3. Cost of fixing
  4. Feature in which defect was identified
  5. Name of the tester who identified the defect
  6. Defect type
  7. Revision and release deadlines

There are multiple stages in a bug’s lifespan –

  1. Active: Bug is being investigated
  2. Test: The bug has been fixed and the debugged software is ready to be tested
  3. Verified: The bug has been re-tested and approved by QA engineer
  4. Closed: Bug has been resolved completely

Bugs must be managed according to priority and severity, These levels identify how much of an impact a bug has on a product. Generally speaking, severity levels can be categorized into the following:

  1. Low: Bug won’t result in any noticeable breakdown of the system
  2. Minor: Results in some unexpected or undesired behavior, but not enough to disrupt system function
  3. Major: Bug capable of collapsing large parts of the system
  4. Critical: Bug capable of triggering complete system shutdown
  • Defect Resolution

Now that bugs have been identified and relevant information has been recorded, informed decisions can be made about resolving each defect. Naturally, fixing errors early on in the process help save cost and effort because errors tend to magnify as the software becomes more complex.

Action in this regard needs the following steps:

  1. Allocation: Each bug is allocated to a developer (ideally the one responsible for creating the software). Remember to change bug status so that the entire team knows that a defect is being dealt with. Create a schedule to fix the entire repertoire of defects based on defect priority.
  2. Resolution: As devs work on fixing defects, Test Managers track the process in relation to the aforementioned schedule.
  3. Reporting: Managers receive reports from developers about resolved bugs and update their status on the database by marking them Closed.
  • Defect Analysis

Now that defects have been detected, categorized, and resolved, step back and take a look at the big picture. Defect analysis takes into account inputs about singular defects as well as defect priorities, product issues, defect resolution history, developers involved, and the like.

Defect analysis plays an important role in preventing the recurrence of similar errors in subsequent projects. Collect the critical error data and the corresponding correction action, and share the learnings with relevant teams. This might help direct future development practices to avoid defects in the first place or help to refine resolution methods so that bugs can be fixed faster.

Both self and peer reviews are powerful tools for learning and motivation. If the QA process supports defect analysis, it almost always translates to a better functioning team that aims towards the Holy Grail of zero defects. Put analysis in place as a mandatory part of defect management in software testing.

As Elon Musk put it “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.

Defect Metrics

A couple of important metrics are helpful when it comes to measuring and gauging the quality of test execution. This, in turn, helps determine the nature and quality of the defect management process in software testing.

  1. Defect Rejection Ratio: (Number of defects rejected/Total number of defects detected) X 100
  2. Defect Leakage Ratio: (Number of defects missed/Total number of defects detected) X 100

The smaller the value of both metrics is, the better is the quality of test execution.

The role of Real Devices

As mentioned earlier, real devices are essential for detecting bugs and defects, no matter the software. The best way to detect all bugs is to run software through real devices and browsers. When it comes to websites, ensure that it is under the purview of both manual testing and automation testing. Automated Selenium testing should supplement manual tests so that testers do not miss any bugs in the Quality Assurance process.

In the absence of an in-house device lab, the best option is to opt for a cloud-based testing service that provides real device browsers and operating systems. BrowserStack offers 2000+ real browsers and devices for manual and automated testing. Users can sign up, choose desired device-browser-OS combinations and start testing.

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The same applies to apps. BrowserStack also offers real devices for mobile app testing and automated app testing. Simply upload the app to the required device-OS combination and check to see how it functions in the real world.automated app testing

Additionally, BrowserStack offers a wide range of debugging tools that make it easy to share and resolve bugs.

The defect management process is at the heart of software testing. At the level of brass tacks, software tests are about finding and fixing bugs. The defect management process in Agile is especially important because development sprints must also include involvement, participation, and action from testers. This ensures that goals are met to completion in each sprint AKA the feature being worked on isn’t just developed, but verified for flaws and fixed until it is functioning perfectly.

Any software development pipeline must plan and implement an optimally functioning and sharply efficient defect management system. Pick the right people, tools, and strategy so that software can be stripped of faults and results in creating only delighted users.

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