How to track bugs in Azure DevOps – a follow up

In response to my post on tracking bugs using Azure DevOps, I got a question about tracking different types of bugs. As the question was in writing, I’m going to answer it here to -hopefully- help explain my view on tracking bugs in more detail.

Question (slightly edited)

I see a difference between three types of bugs:

  1. Bugs that are discovered when testing a user-story.
  2. Bugs that are discovered when testing a user-story, but are very important (for example an unexpected app shutdown).
  3. Bugs in production that are related to an epic closed a long time ago.

In the first case I would create a new task to deal with the problem encountered. In the second case I would then add an Impediment object to the sprint backlog. And finally, in the third case, I would create an actual bug and track it on the backlog. Now we are organizing our user stories in features and our features in epics. So.., where in this hierarchy should I place this bug? Should I create an epic called “Bugs” with the feature “Bugs” under it, and then add the bug under that feature?

Answer

How to track bugs that are not part of the in-progress work is a question I have encountered at different clients. To answer it, I think we must further differentiate between two groups of bugs that make up this third category:

  1. Bugs in production that we are tracking in a bug-tracking capacity. F.e. to allow customers to vote on them, publish workarounds, etc. Some of these bugs might be part of the product for years, but haven’t been fixed and will probably never be fixed.
  2. Bugs in production that we are tracking because we want to work on them. F.e. bugs that we want to fix in the next sprint or ‘somewhere this quarter.’

If you already have a system for tracking this first category, you probably don’t want to duplicate all the bugs from there into Azure DevOps. But, if you haven’t such a system, it makes sense to track these bugs in Azure DevOps instead and yes, I would then all add them under a feature ‘Known Bugs,’ under an epic ‘Known Bugs.’ But again, if you are using a CRM, GitHub issues or bug-tracking software for recording and detailing bugs, it doesn’t really make sense to me to duplicate all these bugs into Azure DevOps.

The second category is different, these bugs I would duplicate to Azure DevOps (or even better, link to that bug from within Azure DevOps to avoid spreading information related to the bug over two systems.) So how to link these to features and epics? For me it is important that epics and features are ‘done’ at some point, so a general epic or feature ‘bugs to fix’ doesn’t really make sense to me. Instead I would propose to create features like this: ‘Bugs Sprint 101,’ ‘Bugs Sprint 102,’ etc etc, and plan these features for the mentioned sprint. We then connect the bugs we duplicate from the bug-tracker, to the feature, and we are suddenly in planning mode. These features I would then group under features called ‘LCM 2022Q3,’ ‘LCM 2022Q4,’ etc etc. This provides a good overview of which bugs we will be fixing when. Yet, I wouldn’t plan more than 1 or 2 sprints ahead myself.

The added benefit of this system is that it allows you to plan other life cycle management (LCM) work as well. Let’s say you are facing an upgrade to .NET6, the latest version of Angular, or you need to remove a dependency on a duplicated library in 8 projects. As fixing right away is not always possible, you know have the epics in place to plan your LCM work ahead as well.

PS

Tracking a bug that introduces a critical regression as an impediment instead of a bug (the second case) is something that can be debated. Personally, I don’t think I see the difference between the first and second type of bug. However, this may vary from context to context. I would be curious to learn when this would make sense.

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