What is Bug Life Cycle In Software Testing? Best Tools For Bug Management
Software testing, despite the name, is much more than simply testing software. It is obviously important to identify as many bugs as possible, but finding the bugs is merely the beginning of the so-called bug life cycle. It is an ongoing battle to find, record, track, fix, and confirm that bugs are addressed.
To be more specific, when a bug is found, it has to be recorded accurately and in such a way that the developer responsible for fixing it will be able to reproduce the problem. All of the bugs identified must be added to a database, tracked, assigned, fixed, and eventually closed. Communication must be clear, bugs must be well described and categorized so that management can assign them correctly, and every fix necessitates a verification process.
The complete life cycle of a bug can be lengthy. From identification through to a verified fix, the process requires the attention of testers, developers, project managers, and team leads. For large-scale testing projects, QA teams may even need a set of dedicated tools to manage bugs. All of this effort is highly rewarding for both the developing team and testing team in many respects:
- Allows both teams to approach the testing project (and especially bug management) in an unstructured manner
- Reduces the chance of overlooking critical issues
- Improves communication between team members and stakeholders
- Ensures that software quality is continuously monitored and enhanced
- Establishes a standard for the bug management process
What Is a Software Bug/Defect?
Bugs and defects are often used interchangeably since they all refer to problems in software. However, there are several slight nuances that distinguish them:
Flaw or error in software that causes it to deviate from expected functionality
Any non-conformance or imperfection in the software, including functionality, usability, performance, or documentation
Specific coding or implementation error
Broader term encompassing various quality issues beyond coding errors
Coding errors, design flaws, configuration issues, compatibility problems
Deviation from requirements, specifications, or user expectations
System crash, incorrect output, security vulnerability
Usability problem, performance bottleneck, design inconsistency
There are many methods to find bugs, but they all fall under two major approaches: manual testing and automated testing. Some companies even have a dedicated webpage where testers can submit bugs they found on the website in exchange for a bounty.
Read More: How To Find Bugs on Websites
What Is a Defect/Bug Life Cycle?
A defect/bug life cycle is the sequence of steps a bug or defect goes through from its identification to its resolution in software development. This life cycle standardizes the bug management process, ensuring teams can manage and resolve them more effectively. Detecting bugs in the development phase allows the developers to address issues as early as possible, not letting them get entrenched into the code and become harder to fix. There are two ways to describe the defect life cycle:
- By bug workflow
- By bug status
1. Bug Life Cycle Workflow
The flow chart below gives you some idea of the process that unfolds when a bug is identified. It is based on personal experience with various testing teams, so it’s not representative of every bug process, but it is still a typical cycle for a bug in software testing.
The table below provides a more detailed breakdown of the activities at each stage and the staff members who are likely to be involved. There are three distinct groups: testers, developers, and project managers or leads.
Bug Life Cycle Activities
1. Execute tests.
2. Report and submit the newly found bug to a bug management system. Set bug status to new.
3. Review and decide whether to fix the bug. Assign developers if necessary. Set bug status to in progress, under investigation, or similar.
Project lead, project manager, tester
4. Investigate and reproduce the bug.
5. If the bug can be successfully reproduced, fix it. Otherwise, request more information from the tester. Update bug status accordingly.
6. Provide further description or use bug-reporting tools to elaborate the bug.
7. Verify the fix by executing steps described in the bug report.
8. Close the bug if the fix is verified. Otherwise, update bug status and provide further explanation.
2. Bug Life Cycle Stages
We can also look at the bug life cycle from the status of bugs. Each bug status corresponds to a specific activity in the bug life cycle:
- In Progress
- Pending Retest
The bug has been reported or identified and is awaiting review. It is typically assigned a unique identifier and entered into the bug tracking system.
There are two scenarios here:
It will be marked as "Deferred" or "Postponed" to be addressed in a future release or development cycle.
The bug has been reviewed and assigned to a specific developer or team responsible for fixing it. This stage involves triaging the bug, prioritizing it, and allocating resources for resolution.
The assigned developer has started working on fixing the bug. They are analyzing the bug's root cause and implementing necessary code changes or fixes.
The developer has made the required code changes to address the bug.
After the bug fix, the bug is marked as "Pending Retest." The QA team will make final verification if the bug has truly been fixed.
The bug has been re-tested by the QA team and confirmed to have been resolved completely.
If the bug is found to be unresolved or if new issues arise after verification, it is reopened. The development process continues from the "In Progress" stage to address the remaining issues.
Continuous Improvement in the Bug Life Cycle
The defect life cycle as shown above is the standard process, but QA teams should strive to optimize it and improve the bug resolution efficiency. Based on observations and analytics generated from test runs, teams can make organization-specific tweaks to this workflow. Below are several recommendations to make your bug life cycle better:
- Establish clear bug taxonomies to better categorize newly found bugs. It is essentially a shared language between the testers and developers, allowing them to describe the bug in a structured manner. Here are several bug criteria to get started with:
- Severity (High - Medium - Low impact to system performance/security)
- Priority (High - Medium - Low urgency)
- Reproducibility (Reproducible, Intermittent, Non-Reproducible, or Cannot Reproduce)
- Root Cause (Coding Error, Design Flaw, Configuration Issue, or User Error, etc.)
- Bug Type (Functional Bugs, Performance Issues, Usability Problems, Security Vulnerabilities, Compatibility Errors, etc.)
- Areas of Impact
- Frequency of Occurrence
- Establish clear bug reporting guidelines (context, bug categories as listed above, step-by-step guide to reproduce bugs, environment details, screenshots (if needed), expected results versus current results, etc.).
- Adopt bug tracking tools to automate certain stages of the bug life cycle (bug logging, assignment, etc.) and improve efficiency.
- Perform root cause analysis to prevent similar issues from happening in the future. The root cause analysis involves the following steps:
- Gather data from previous test runs, system logs, user feedback, and available documentation to prove that there is a bigger issue to be tackled.
- Brainstorm and identify potential root causes for the bug (use popular techniques like the 5 Whys, Fishbone Diagrams, or Fault Trees).
- Determine the likelihood and impact of each root cause.
- Adopt continuous testing and ensure that the bug life cycle fits seamlessly into this process by leveraging CI/CD tools.
Use Katalon Platform With AI To Streamline Root Cause Analysis and Debugging Efforts
Katalon Platform is a modern and comprehensive software quality management platform that leverages AI to streamline the root cause analysis process. Katalon's AI capabilities can review test failure and perform in-depth root cause analysis. To conduct further test analysis, you can click on the Test Result ID, which is 102282108 in the example below.
Katalon provides you with valuable information to easily identify the root cause, including:
- Error Message – specific reason why the execution failed
- Attachments – captured screenshots and even recorded videos to help you visualize the issue
- Specific Assertion – if you have configured Katalon to mark failed steps, it will also show those steps to help you debug faster
- Full Error Logs – fully downloadable error log
- Execution Log – detailed log for each test step and step status, allowing you to quickly troubleshoot the steps that cause test failures
As you can see in the image below, the Error Message was Web Element with id: ‘Object Repository/Page_OrangeHRM/input_LOGIN Panel_txtUsername’ located by ‘//input[@id=’txtUsername’] not found. It means that either the Username was not present on the page or the XPath expression to locate it was incorrect.
You can see in the screenshot that Katalon automatically captured and attached the Test Result analysis, as well as the full Error Log and Execution Log. Katalon makes your root cause analysis even simpler by:
- Grouping all failed test results with similar features in one centralized place so you can quickly compare and pinpoint the root cause.
- Suggesting Failure Reason to the top-level exception of failed test result with the option to modify the assigned reason.
You can also leverage Katalon’s debugging utilities to speed up the debugging process. In most automation tools, if a test case fails and you make changes to the script, you often need to execute the entire script again to ensure the desired test outcome — which is time-consuming. With Katalon, you have several innovative options to debug faster, including:
- Debug > Run from here – to execute the script from the particular step that failed
- Debug > Enable/Disable steps – to skip unwanted steps during the execution
Katalon also equips you with a set of options for more convenient debugging purposes, including Resume debugging, Suspend debugging, Terminate debugging, Disconnect, Step into the current code block, Step over the current code block, Return from the current code block, and Run to a specific line.
More than just a debugging tool, Katalon also enables QA teams to quickly create test scripts without any code, manage test cases and test artifacts in 1 single centralized repository, execute tests across multiple environments, and generate detailed smart test reports. Teams of any scale can leverage Katalon to level-up all stages of their testing life cycle.