When Bugs become Technical Debt

Greg Thomas

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Every fantastic line of code you write has the potential to become an even more amazing bug — whether you report it or not, it’s there, lurking behind the scenes, but there.

As a Software Manager, it’s just not enough to look triage, monitor, and report on bugs (all very important), but what’s even more important is to identify if the bug is a bug or if it’s the tip of the iceberg of something that much bigger.

Whether its bugs being logged through your fancy dancy CI/CD pipelines or some schmancy CRM implementation that links them to incoming cases — it’s on you, the manager, to ensure you’re tracking not only what the impact today is but what the fall-out could be later down the line to ensure what’s a bug today doesn’t become debt tomorrow.

Watch the Trends

Identifying where bugs originate is the best place to analyze trends on where issues are coming from.

Don’t know where your bugs are originating from? GREAT — this is the best place to start to figure that out.

If over a two-week period we have 5 to 7 issues coming from our medium-sized customers on a particular area, you know when the bigger accounts get there, it’s not going to be a slow burn like it might have been with the medium ones and they probably aren’t going to be an issue.

I started with customer trends, but you definitely don’t need to star there.

Start with your own sprints — how is work going now, and where is QA finding bugs? Is that new code we wrote or are they finding holes in old code?

I wouldn’t put this on the Scrum Leader, they are concerned with people getting through the sprint, this is a long-term sprint over sprint work, this is the job of the Software Manager and there is one simple tool that can act like a good red alert for everyone.

The Bug Bar

Not a place, although at tech conferences it would probably be a great one.

The bug bar is an imaginary line, but a powerful one.

The bug bar is a number that exists in every Software Manager’s mind whether it relates to their backlog, the current sprint, the number of customer cases, etc, etc — that makes them go — “time…

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect, Developer, Author and Leader helping organizations build scalable software delivery teams and implement cloud-based solutions