Tagging Software Defects for Root Cause Analysis

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I really, REALLY like using tags, indiscriminately of the tool we are using on a project (Rally, TFS, Jira, etc.) or the work product type (user stories, features, epics, etc.). But for today, I’ll focus on tags for bugs.

Recently, I was working with a great team and gently pushing them to consider ways they could improve, since no team is perfect, and everyone has room for growth. The team was co-located, which was absolutely great, because it facilitated communication.

However, since they could easily walk over to someone’s desk to ask a question, they weren’t using some of their tools’ features, such as tags for bugs. It just wasn’t necessary for them. Being new to the team myself, I thought tagging bugs could be helpful so that we could categorize them and easily determine where they belonged or the next steps for resolving them.

co-located team

We brainstormed a few helpful tags and started to use them:

  1. Needs work – For anything that needed additional information from the PO or from the person who submitted the bug.
  2. Good – These were good examples of how a bug should be written and the information it should contain.
  3. Screen issue – For IU or UX issues.
  4. Enhancement – An issue that is technically not a bug, but a need for enhancement. I prefer to log anything and everything that needs to be updated as a “bug” and use tags to sort through those. Some will disagree with me, especially developers, saying that some issues are not “bugs.” But, I prefer to handle these delineations by using tags.
  5. Requirements issue – We used this tag for something that the end user described as being wrong or missing in the system.

We also included tags for work product area, so that we could easily see if one area was getting more bugs than others.

debugging a program

Because we were a small team, we let people use tags that they thought were useful as well. That means we didn’t have any kind of governance or rules around creating new tags; we simply let people manage tags on their own. During our bug reviews, we’d see if any tags weren’t being used or if there were one or two bugs within a tag and sometimes removed those as well.

Overall, this simple use of tags was helpful, especially for a team our size. What are some of the creative ways your teams have used tags to improve your workflow? Feel free to comment below with tags that have been useful on your projects!

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