After a program has been developed, bug tracking software is largely responsible for its improvement prior to release and its improvement throughout subsequent releases. The software development process has numerous stages that are signified by “benchmarks”, and debugging can occur multiple times before a program hits store shelves. But not long after a program hits the market, consumer and software tester reports of its problems, or “bugs”, usually emerge. In order to categorize and resolve these issues in the timeliest manner, software companies have to employ a computerized issue tracking system.
Today, there are a variety of issue tracking programs that allow companies to track software and hardware problems in a simplified manner, but “bug tracking” focuses specifically on addressing software bugs both before a program is released and throughout its subsequent releases. Once a bug is discovered, an issue tracking system allows its users to create a file that lists various pieces of information surrounding the bug, including when it was reported and by whom, its severity within the context of the larger program and its resolution status once it begins to be addressed by developers or technical staff. The file created for each software bug is referred to as a ticket and is stored in a database that contains other tickets. Whenever a ticket receives a change of status, the status change is visible to everyone involved in the resolution process, including customer complaint representatives.
One of the critical functions offered by a bug tracking is customized report generation, which allows management personnel to chart the progress of bug resolution and development. After consulting with developers and technical support staff based on the knowledge contained in the report, management can determine whether some team members have more work than other and redistribute work. Prior to the customized reports offered by bug tracking systems, managers were often blind to the resolution and development process and had to be apprised by developers and support staff. To the benefit of developers and technical staff, issue tracking software often comes with built in software tests and also allows developers to design tests and run them automatically.
Setting up an in house bug tracking system can be costly and time consuming, as it necessitates a database to hold the tickets and the tracking software itself. In addition, in house tracking systems generally take longer to disseminate information from one team member to another. Therefore, most companies opt for a hosted bug tracking service. Given the cost effectiveness and increased flexibility of hosted bug tracking, most companies now choose to monitor software projects through a tracking service provider.
In addition to making the bug tracking process smother and timelier, the goal of a tracking system is to increase communication between project team members, which makes an online tracking service the optimal choice.