Agile for 30 Minutes: Agile Defect Reporting

stopwatchHow do you report defects in an agile way? I’ll tell you my pre-requisites and guidelines for entering or not entering defects into the defect tracking system in an attempt to be agile (for 30 minutes):

Here are my pre-requisites for agile defect reporting:

  1. You need to have GREAT communication with the developers. What is great? A mutual respect for each other. An ability to talk at the level that both tester and developer can understand.
  2. You need to be able to quickly show your defect, especially if it is complex and hard to explain. What is quick? Email is NOT quick. I think quick is:
    1. Recreating in person.
    2. Using the phone.
    3. Sharing your desktop (Windows desktop sharing feature).
    4. Instant Messaging screen-shots.
  3. YOU must be able to conduct regression on the defect fix. Nobody knows the defect better than you. Especially since we’re going to be light-weight on the documentation (see The 10 minute rule below)

Here are my guidelines for agile defect reporting:

  1. The 10 minute rule: If the developer can’t devote time to you within 10 minutes then ask “When do you think you’ll have time to take a look at this with me?”. If within 30 minutes then press the 30 minute snooze button, make a note of it, and continue testing. It’s important to make a note of the defect at this point. A simple one liner will suffice, just enough info to kindle your memory of how you found it or how to recreate it. It is likely that you’ll have a few more defects to share by the time that 30 minutes is up, so your notes will help keep you on track when it’s time to share them. I use Microsoft OneNote (they have a free trial).
  2. The 30 minute deadline: If you can’t share the defect within 30 minutes then put it in the defect tracking tool.

Experience has proven that there is one downside to being defect agile (sharing within the 30 minute window): there is little defect history if the defect wasn’t entered into a defect tracking tool. So you are limited to your notes. I think in the last 2.5 years this bit me twice when a defect reoccurred and we were looking for how we fixed it (which would only work if your developers are detailing their fixes in the defect report).

Being bitten only twice is worth the price if you ask me. Hundreds of defects reported in an agile like fashion can save countless hours,days, or weeks for a tester and developer over the course of a project.

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