Developing software, like any project, is complicated and littered with roadblocks. One of those roadblocks is a bug. A bug is a problem with a feature or the functionality of the software, which needs to be fixed before it can be shipped to customers. A bug relies on a bug report to get that process started.
Before we dive into how to make a bug report, let’s go deeper into the definition of a bug report and why it’s so important to software development. We’ll also explain some best practices, provide an example to better illustrate what a bug report is and let you download a free bug report template to get started.
What Is a Bug Report?
A bug report is a document, log or diagnostic information that identifies a bug or problem with the software and provides a clear, step-by-step description of how to replicate that bug so developers can find and fix it. A software tester will usually create the bug report and pass it on to the development team so they can understand and resolve the problem.
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Bug Report Template
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The bug report not only explains how to reproduce the problem but can also include a screenshot and details of the device and environment in which the bug occurred. The more information, the better for the developer to debug the software so it doesn’t happen again.
There are often many bugs when developing software, but a bug report focuses solely on one bug. For each new bug, a new bug report is created. That’s why bug reports also have unique IDs to differentiate them from one another and make it easier for developers to find the specific bug and track it throughout the bug’s life cycle.
Project management software can help manage the process of identifying and fixing bugs. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that has customizable kanban boards that can mirror the debugging process so developers can collaborate and managers can track progress. Bugs can be captured on kanban cards, which have unlimited file storage to hold screenshots and documents. Users can set a priority and add tags, descriptions and more. The kanban columns mimic the stages of debugging and cards show the percentage complete. All this is done with our online tool so developers and testers can collaborate wherever they are. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Why Is It Important to Use a Bug Report In Software Development?
The main reason a bug report is important is that software developers don’t want to send a product to customers that doesn’t work. Identifying and fixing bugs ensures greater customer satisfaction, which leads to greater sales and a stronger brand.
The bug report is a powerful tool in this process as it captures and details the bug so developers can replicate it and discover the cause of the problem. It does this by being a thorough container for data surrounding the discovery of the bug, from the environment it sprung up from to the device used when it occurred. All of this can pinpoint the origin of the bug, which is crucial in fixing it.
The identification and repair of bugs will save time and money in software development. Yes, a bug means that there will be more time to go back to fix the bug. But that’s preferable to having to release a new version because a bug was sent out with the product and wasn’t discovered until it was caught by a customer. It’s always better to catch the bug before the software goes into production as it saves time and money.
How to Write a Bug Report
A bug report can be created in many different ways, from paper to digital, but however it’s delivered, the data tends to be the same. Here’s an outline of the process for testers to capture all the pertinent information that developers will need to remedy the problem.
1. Start With General Information About the Bug
To begin, you’re going to need to identify the bug. Remember, there will likely be plenty of bugs so you’ll have to make sure you differentiate between them. There’s other general information that’s going to be important to capture, which is listed below.
Give each bug a unique number, according to whatever system you use to track bugs. You can also add a name, if that’s helpful, though there will be space to describe the bug in detail later on in the bug report.
The tester is usually the person who discovers the bug, but it’s the developer who’s responsible for fixing it. Therefore, a developer must be assigned to the bug report to route it to the right person. The developer will take ownership of the bug and be accountable for the process of resolving it.
Submit Date & Due Date
You’ll want to capture the date when the bug was discovered and add a due date for the bug to be fixed. Having a deadline is always preferable to keeping the task open-ended.
2. Describe the Bug
At this point, you’ll want to describe the bug in detail. If you added a title in the previous section, it should have been short, but now you’ll be able to provide all the information about the bug to help the developer replicate and resolve it.
This is where you write an exhaustive but clearly written description of the bug. You want to make it easy for the developer to understand without neglecting any details that will be important to the developer when replicating and repairing the bug. This can include the URL where the bug occurred and other details.
Expected Results vs. Actual Results
The expected result is what should have happened if the functionality or feature was working as designed. This will help the developer know what’s expected. The actual result is the bug or what happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. This should be short and clear.
Screenshot or Image
It can be helpful to the developer if the tester is able to add a screenshot of the bug or some image. Writing about the bug is important, but having visual reference is often clearer or at least will add to the clarity of the written documentation and help the developer understand the bug.
Steps to Reproduce
In order for the developer to replicate the bug, the tester should outline the steps they took that led to the discovery of the bug. Again, these steps should be detailed, but clear so as not to be confusing. You don’t want to prevent the developer from doing their work or have to prolong the process by reaching out to the tester for more information.
Bug Severity & Priority
Not all bugs are created equal. You want to further define the bug by noting its severity and prioritizing it. Severity is how much it impacts the functionality of the software, from critical to enhancement. The former is of the utmost importance and the latter is minor, such as a typo. Priority is used to tell developers which bugs need their attention first and is ranked from high to low priority.
3. Describe the Bug Environment
Finally, you’ll want to describe the environment in which the bug occurred. This goes beyond the URL or screenshot. It helps developers rule out all but the one cause of the bug.
This is the device used when discovering the bug, such as a computer, tablet, phone, etc., and what kind of device: Mac, PC, etc.
Not just the device, but the operating system it uses needs to be noted, such as Android, iOS, Windows, etc.
If the bug was found online, then the browser used will have to be identified, whether it’s Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Foxfire, etc.
Bug Reporting Best Practices
We’ve outlined the basics when identifying and reporting on a bug, but there’s more that can be done to make sure the process proceeds as efficiently as possible. Here are a few helpful tips.
Use a Standard Bug Report Template Throughout Your Organization
Consistency is important in bug reporting. It creates a more efficient system, which means that bugs are resolved faster. Therefore, using a bug report template or making sure that your bug reporting system is consistent will help you report and resolve bugs. It’ll also help when archiving them to use for future reference.
Keep Your Bug Reports Simple but Descriptive Enough
We’ve already mentioned the importance of a detailed, but clear bug report, but it’s worth stressing as it’s so critical to the smooth running of a bug reporting system. That’s because bugs need to be thoroughly detailed to help developers replicate and repair them, but if they’re not simple and straightforward enough, they can prove confusing, which will slow down the process.
Establish Channels of Communication for Testers & Developers
For a bug report to work, there must be a clear communication channel between the tester and the bug developer. In a sense, the bug report is acting as that bridge, but as detailed and clear as a bug report should be, there still might be cause to speak with the tester. Therefore, developers and testers shouldn’t be siloed, but work collaboratively.
Bug Report Example
There are endless possibilities when it comes to bug report examples. We’ve already gone into detail about the reporting process, but we haven’t highlighted what the bug that initiated that process might be. Here are a few examples of bugs in software testing.
- The login doesn’t work
- Add to cart button doesn’t add the right item
- The search box doesn’t respond to the user’s query
Bug Report Template
The best way to understand a bug report is to do one. ProjectManager has a free bug report template for Excel that you can download right now to use when testing your software. Our site has dozens of free project management templates for Excel and Word that address every phase of a project. Use our free bug report template to streamline your bug reporting and keep it consistent for greater efficiency.
How ProjectManager Helps With Bug Reporting & Tracking
Our free template is a great tool to capture the details of your bug, but tracking the process of fixing it will require project management software. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that manages and tracks your bug reporting in real time. Once you’ve filled out the bug report it can be attached to the software, making it easily accessible for everyone involved who needs to access it.
Plan How to Fix Bugs With Multiple Views
Different teams use different tools. Our software gives everyone the opportunity to work on the project view they’re comfortable with. Developers can use our kanban boards to visualize their workflow while testers can add bug reports to their task list as they go through their assignments. Managers can schedule bug reporting with the larger software development on robust Gantt charts, while stakeholders can stay informed on progress with calendar views that show due dates and milestones.
Once you have the right tool to work on your bug report, then you’ll need to monitor its progress to make sure it is resolved on schedule. Our software captures real-time data and displays it on easy-to-read graphs and charts that show time, cost, workload and more to help you track your team’s work. There’s no time-consuming setup required as with lightweight tools. It’s ready when you are. Plus, our customizable reports go into greater detail and can be shared to keep stakeholders updated.
Those are just some of the features that can help you identify, manage and track bugs in real time. There are also task management tools to keep teams productive and working at capacity, resource management tools to give them what they need when they need it and risk management tools to stay prepared for the unexpected.
ProjectManager is online project management software that connects teams whether they’re working in the same office or different countries. Teams can share files, comment at the task level and more to foster better collaboration. Join teams at Siemens, Avis and Nestle who are using our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.