Bugs are an inevitable part of any testing process; some are simple to fix, while others can be difficult and have a significant impact. However, you may not realize the impact until it is too late.
In this blog, I will go over the main reasons why you should fix bugs as soon as you find them.
Unresolved bugs significantly impede quick and efficient releases
Every now and then, an unforeseen event forces a team to release all or part of their software when they least expect it. Perhaps an urgent patch is required to fix a bug in the production system, or an unexpected visit from the main contractor necessitates the deployment of the latest release for a demo. These events can be demotivating even at the best of times, and they are frequently exacerbated by the existence of one or more unfixed bugs. The release itself may only require a few minutes, but how long will it take to get the software fully prepared for release with unfixed bugs in the code? Even if a team can quickly fix any bugs that are preventing the release, the time required to re-test the bugs must be factored in. As a result, the release is frequently delayed or only the most important bugs are fixed.
Unresolved bugs result in untrusted performance measures
Different teams analyze bugs in diverse manners. Some casually measure how many remain to be repaired, while others track it all from density to lifespan. Every bug-based measurement, regardless of its sophistication, is dependent on an accurate data set. Maintaining accurate bug information becomes exceedingly challenging as the percentage of unfixed bugs gets bigger. Regardless of whether the information was correct at the time, the longer a bug stays unfixed, the more likely it will diverge from reality.
Unresolved bugs imply that quality is insignificant
We're all professional people at heart, but it's amazing how quickly a company can find itself on a downhill trajectory. A developer working on software that already contains poorly crafted, error-prone processes with minimal or no unit test coverage is likely to add more code of the same characteristic. Likewise, a tester who has seen dozens of reported bugs go unsolved is highly improbable to be enthusiastic about documenting much more. Of course, testers and developers are not the only ones who are affected. Over time, every employee on the team will begin to wonder, "What's the point?" Why aim for a premium product when a mediocre one is the acknowledged standard? Don't set poor quality standards; fix bugs as soon as you discover them.
Unresolved bugs may cause the team to lose focus
When someone comes across an unfixed bug, several unimportant questions are implanted in their minds. Let's say a developer is about to make an improvement when they find a bug. If the bug has already been fixed but not checked in by someone else, should they fix it first? Can they use the unreliable code as the foundation for their own? Imagine a tester in a similar situation who was setting up the testing environment when they discovered a bug in one functional area. Should they wait to test the intended area and instead investigate the bug they discovered instead? Has this bug already been reported, making investigation time-consuming? Could this bug either positively or negatively taint the outcomes of the intended tests?
Unresolved bugs cause erroneous projections
There are no 2 bugs that are the same as each other. Some necessitate only minutes to conduct an investigation, while others require hours to examine. Some take minutes to fix, while others take days. Some can be re-tested automatically, while others require manual confirmation. When you add these uncertainties together, you realize that the more unfixed bugs a project has, the less precision its estimates become. It's easy to conclude that the hard work required to fix and re-test bugs pales in comparison to other project work and that they can be overlooked/controlled with a healthy chunk of contingency - this is very rarely the case. Even with a contingency in place and a detailed analysis of each bug to determine whether the contingency is sufficiently accurate, a team still cannot truly know how it will take to fix and re-test each bug until the work has been completed. Don't mislead your decision-makers with improper projections; fix bugs as soon as they are discovered.
Unresolved bugs result in duplication of effort
The greater the number of unresolved bugs, the more difficult it is to determine whether a bug has already been reported. Consider a scenario in which there are only seven different unresolved bugs. When a "new" bug is discovered, it is simple to determine whether it has already been documented by someone else. Consider attempting the same activity with 200 unfixed bugs in circulation. It will either take an inconveniently long time (time that could be best spent looking for other errors) or it will be forced to abandon, resulting in duplicate bugs being reported. These duplicate bugs result in duplicate exploration and re-testing. Don't waste more time on unnecessary duplication; fix bugs as soon as you find them.
Unresolved bugs mask other bugs
How many times have you heard a tester say, "Great news, I re-tested the bug you resolved and it works perfectly, but I've discovered a brand-new bug"? You might be in luck, as fixing a bug may expose no further incidents, but delaying this type of finding is a big gamble. What if that Priority 2 bug you've been choosing to ignore is actually a Priority 1, or worse, a bug that will require considerable changes to the software to fix? If you have one of these bugs lurking somewhere within your code, the earlier you find it, the better. Fix bugs as soon as you discover them and don't wait to find significant issues.
Discussion of unresolved bugs is pointless
Discussing unfixed bugs is a waste of time, whether it takes place as part of project planning, in a special triage session, or simply when everyone is gathered around a coffee table. Does this bug need to be fixed? is really the only question that needs to be addressed. While interesting, everything else is just noise. Which priority—Priority 2 or Priority 3—should we assign to this bug? When will the problem be fixed? Should bug 61 be fixed before bug 15? All of these questions could be avoided, along with the frequently drawn-out discussions that result, if teams fixed bugs as soon as they were discovered. There will undoubtedly be bugs in every project that needs extra care, but this level of care is not typically needed in most projects. Instead of wasting time on pointless discussions.