This article was originally published on 08/10/2015 and has been updated as a product guide for bug reporting in 2018.

What’s that crawling in your code? Maybe your development team calls them errors, defects, or issues; as if that makes them any better. But let’s be blunt: They’re bugs, unintended glitches, or things not working the way they’re supposed to.

What happens when all those bugs start bothering your customers or developers? This is a sign your small business needs to reasses the way it approaches bug reporting—and that means considering investing in bug tracking software. In this article, we’ll survey five bug tracking solutions to help your development team reduce resources spent finding and fixing bugs and to free them up to make more polished applications for your end users.

 Forty-five percent of small business app development resources are exhausted handling bugs.

 
 CHALLENGE:  According to GetApp research, the number of projects requiring rework after delivery in small business app development is estimated to be as high as 84 percent. Nearly every development project requires retread, and a major reason for that is bugs.

Yet, in an annual survey conducted by test management solution provider Testuff, 1 out of 5 software testers report that they do not rely on bug tracking software to help identify and prioritize requests for rework. Absence of bug tracking software slows organizations down.

 RECOMMENDATION:  Your business needs to ensure your issue and bug tracking investments are money well spent and do well to recoup the estimated 45 percent of resources exhausted handling bugs, as gleaned from recent survey data published by the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET).

Pair your bug reporting strategy with bug tracking software to increase the productivity of your bug hunting, recycle those regained hours into quicker delivery timelines, and hammer out the flaws of your finished products before they’re delivered to improve customer satisfaction.

What is bug reporting?

Bug reporting is writing about those squirmy insectoids from under the flooring as they face off against a tangled web of creepy crawlers—straight out of a Kafka novelette.

Ok, not that kind of bug reporting.

The bug reporting we’re talking about refers to the science of finding and reconciling software bugs. It is also known as bug tracking. A bug is an unexpected problem with software that causes interference in a program’s performance. Usually these problems are not anticipated by the developer(s) and take shape as blue screens of death or fatal errors that damage the integrity of critical files or adjacent devices and programs.

Bugs wreak havoc

Ok, who’s getting fired?

Bugs wreak havoc on development timelines. Problems include unpredictable delays, as well as postponed delivery windows, when developers are forced off of new projects to readdress the old ones. How can you keep customer satisfaction levels high when your finished work is glaringly unfinished, bugged, and broken?

That’s where bug reporting comes in.

An effective bug report is composed of six crucial elements:

  1. Identification
  2. Server Environment
  3. Steps to Reproduce
  4. Expected Result
  5. Actual Result
  6. Live Example (screen grabs, video recordings, and voice memos)

You can use a manual spreadsheet and email to track bugs and notify your team, but you are outmatched by bug tracking software in the following ways:
 

  • Central accessible reporting dashboard in support of real-time collaboration
  • Historical records and metadata to analyze defect trends
  • Version history and audit trail to quickly identify the location of bugs
  • Earlier and more thorough detection
  • Lower risk of forgetting bugs with an organized, structured response

 
Bug tracking software—like the real-world pest—comes in all shapes and sizes. Here are five options to fit a variety of team compositions, goals, and priorities.

Jira bug tracking

Integrations and Import in Jira
Integrations and Import in Jira (Source)

There’s no rock large enough to hide under to avoid hearing about Jira. It would be like sleeping through Godzilla breathing down the neck of your hotel skyscraper—which is a fitting comparison because the name Jira is a play on “Gonjira,” the Japanese pronunciation of Godzilla.

Jira is a project management solution that helps you plan, track, and coordinate teams. Jira offers many integrations and APIs to link your important hardware, applications, and workflows. Jira’s exhaustive search features smoke out your most dastardly bugs, and its reporting tools—when paired with a skilled user—can make assessments that improve your development process.

Recommended for midsize to large teams with high or complicated project workloads. For more information about Jira—pricing, features, and alternatives—visit the product page on GetApp.com.

Sentry bug tracking

Owners Feature in Sentry

Owners Feature in Sentry (Source)

Sentry is an open-source bug- and error-logging solution. It’s a departure from many bug trackers in that it shifts the onus of bug reporting from end-users and testers to the developers themselves. Its tagline says it all: “Stop hoping your users will report errors.”

Sentry gives developers tools to spot and squash bugs before their users even know they’re there.

Sentry features include surfacing exceptions via email or SMS notifications, though, importantly, only to the designated “owners” of a particular app or process. This helps with task prioritization, distributing project responsibility across teams, and ensuring that not every developer is pestered with alarm bells for every found bug.

The analytics capability of Sentry allows users to aggregate events to better locate bugs, gauge their frequency, and identify the affected users. Communication is important internally, but also externally. Sentry has a mechanism to probe app users for bug feedback and inform them when bugs are afoot and fixes are soon coming. The net result is a faster, more polished iteration of your applications.

Recommended for moderately sized teams with a medium level of coding and technical proficiency. For more information about Sentry—pricing, features, alternatives—visit its product page on GetApp.com.

Zoho bug tracking

Github Integration in Zoho

Github Integration in Zoho (Source)

Zoho is known for its wide range of cloud apps for business, which share resources and streamline customer service and other management tasks. In terms of bug tracking, Zoho BugTracker (aka Zoho bug tracking module) presents the pertinent information in an intuitive dashboard layout, which includes Kanban View for project management.

Zoho BugTracker features include customizable and automated response to bugs, the ability to add bugs by email, configurable classification of bug severity, and integration with GitHub social coding software and Bitbucket integration to manage repositories. Zoho also features a centrally accessible dashboard to view team reports, updates, milestones, timesheet summaries, as well as share files—all to keep teams on the same page.

Recommended for small to midsize teams. Recommended for businesses already relying on other Zoho products. For more information about Zoho BugTracker—pricing, features, alternatives—find it at GetApp.com.

Marker.io bug tracking

Screen Capture Tool in Marker.io

Screen Capture Tool in Marker.io (Source)

Marker.io is a visual bug tracker. A visual bug tracker is unique in that it acts as an add-on or plug-in—layered over your existing bug tracking tools or browser—and allows in-app annotation on live projects.

Marker.io simplifies the QA process. Users can take screenshots within their applications and turn these into tasks for the development team. You can tag teammates, use bug report templates to write descriptive, actionable instructions. And you don’t have to worry about jotting down browser session information because it is automatically saved to help your developers reproduce the bug.

Marker.io also allows users to annotate their bug reports with text, shapes, lines, and even emojis for emphasis. This can spotlight not only bugs or issues but suggestions and new ideas.

Marker.io integrates with issue tracking heavyweights such as Jira, GitHub, and BitBucket, as well as project management tools such as Trello and Asana. Recommended for teams of any size. For more information about Marker.io—pricing, features, alternatives—find it at GetApp.com.

Instabug bug tracking

Screen Recording and Voice Notes in Instabug
Screen Recording and Voice Notes in Instabug (Source)

Different from conventional bug reporting software, Instabug is an in-app feedback and reporting tool that allows users to create bug reports directly within your app. Instabug syncs with project management and issue tracking players from Jira to BitBucket, Slack to Zendesk. With one line of code to install and compatibility with mobile users, Instabug prioritizes ease of use.

Instabug creates context-rich reports through voice notes and screen recordings (as well as screenshots and annotation), so developers spend less time looking for bugs and more time fixing them. A useful tool is the ability to inspect “view hierarchy,” a 3D representation of all the app layers, to identify the faulty view. Instabug also gives companies a window into the past with a log of steps detailing every action users took just before the error or, even worse, crash.

Visual bug trackers typically lack the overhead of full-scale issue/bug tracking software. They also don’t demand high technical proficiency to use, making them a suitable option for less tech-savvy teams. For more information about Instabug—pricing, features, alternatives—find it at GetApp.com.

Recommendations

Bug reporting is a defunct art: Bugs are one of the most evolutionary resistant species on the planet; they’ve been here since the dinosaurs. In the same spirit, at a time when AI is usurping millions of jobs, bug reporting is one job that is well entrenched, because it requires a skilled human technician (and intelligence) to write the detailed work orders for developers to take action on.

Don’t neglect your written bug reports—as many small businesses have. Rather, provide as much relevant information as possible from expected results, how to reproduce the bug and the precise location where the bug is found.

Visual bug tracking is a powerful way to march teams in one direction: The issue with bug tracking is often just that: the issue. An issue and ticketing system is the most common way for small businesses to keep a work log of outstanding bugs, and often a lot of helpful contextual detail about a bug is lost.

Deploy a bug tracker with visual bug tracking capability to view a live example of the bug. It allows users to annotate right at the source, within the application, prototype, or development makeup where the bug occurs, for everyone on the development team to view and work together in real time.

Love the bug—but not too much: Changes in frequency or volume of bugs in your software or mobile app development can be useful to make broad assessments on the health of your app development approach. However, bugs should not be used as a success metric.

That means no bug bounties for your employees, or anything punitive that factors into employee KPIs. When things like bug bounties are introduced, it causes employees to get blinded by the metrics and the results can be unpredictable and often detrimental to your business.


Methodology

Products identified in this article were shortlisted based on average user reviews data (type: overall rating) aggregated from GetApp.com. Eligible reviews data is published by users whose disclosed company size is less than 200 people / published review between June 2016 – June 2018.