Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Managing Workflow for Software Defects

Define the Workflow Statuses - When tracking software defects, it is important to define the workflow. Workflow is normally tracked via the "status". Let's create a simple workflow for a development team, where the tester finds a defect and follows it through resolution, quality assurance and closure. Below are some possible sets of statuses (workflow) for this process.

Workflow Statuses:


Flowchart the Workflow - Flowcharting the workflow allows team members to understand the process in full. We created the flowchart using Microsoft Word.

Advanced Workflow - In our example above, we used simple workflow. However, if your team uses software to manage defects, you should be able to implement more robust workflow. For example, the software should allow you to define "state transitions". This identifies how a status can transition from one status to another. In our example, above, you may want to setup these transitions:

Active - Can only transition to Resolved or Committee
Committee - Can only transition to Active or Closed
Resolved - Can only transition to Active or QAed
QAed - Can only transition to Active or Closed
Closed - No transitions allowed

Likewise, the software should also allow you to define what fields (or items) you wish to make required upon different states. In the example above, if the defect is changed to Resolved, we may want to require that the programmer enter the resolution information (resolution code and description of how they resolved it). Robust defect tracking software will allow you to define the field attributes for each state transition. Software Planner (
http://www.SoftwarePlanner.com) does this nicely, you can see how this is handled from Software Planner by viewing this movie:


Defect Severity - Another important aspect of defect tracking is to objectively define your defect severities. If this is subjective, team members will struggle classifying the severity. Below are severities that are objective:

1-Crash - Set when the defect causes the software to crash
2-Major Bug - Set when there is a major defect with NO workaround
3-Workaround - Set when there is a defect but it has a workaround
4-Trivial - Not a major bug, trivial (e.g. misspelling, etc)

Defect Priority - Similar to severity, the priority for resolving the defect should be objective, not subjective. Below are priorities that are objective:

1-Fix ASAP - Highest level of priority, must be fixed as soon as possible
2-Fix Soon - Fix once the priority 1 items are completed
3-Fix If Time - Fix if time allows, otherwise, fix in a future release

User Acceptance Test Release Template - Upon entering User Acceptance Testing, it is wise to create a document that describes how your QA process went. Here is a User Acceptance Test Release Report template:


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