Friday, November 14, 2008

Not a Mind Reader

Late in a release cycle, there's an inevitable conversation:

"You mean you just found THAT?! That's been wrong for a long time! Oh, we've GOTTA have that one fixed."


There are two things  that really grate about that statement:
  1. Age of bug does not correlate with defect priority
  2. If you've known about it, why isn't it in the defect tracking system?
Bug Aging and Priority
A bug's age has nothing at all to do with its priority. A really old bug can still be low priority. Conversely a brand new bug can be low priority. Bugs can change priority through time, but that's not age specifically. Instead, a bug changes priority as usage patterns and features around the issue change.

For example, if you have a bug in your Active Directory integration and you're selling into UNIX shops, that bug is probably low priority. When your sales team starts landing major customers who have mostly Windows environments, that bug might become higher priority. Why? Because now you're more likely to hit it in the field.

If You Knew....
There are a lot of different groups that might define a particular behavior as a bug - sales, support, development, QA. Just because one group finds a bug doesn't mean another group has any clue that the defect exists. Even if the behavior is known, one group might assume that behavior is correct while another group considers that behavior absolutely ludicrous.

Enter the defect tracking system. This system is not the exclusive domain of QA, or even of development and QA. Here's the amazing thing: anyone can enter a bug! So if support feels that something is a bug, they should enter it. Same goes for sales, development, QA, anyone. From there the bug can go into a standard triage process. But if the bug never gets in, it's not going to be fixed. 

I am not a mind reader.

So if you'd like a bug fixed, great. All it takes is two simple steps:
  1. Log the bug
  2. Explain why you think it's high (or changed)  priority.
If you don't do those two things, don't expect other people to automatically know there's a problem and fix it. Be an active part of the process; your results will improve immensely.

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