Small development teams have a lot of responsibilities. From designing and building new software platforms to tracking issues and bugs in new and existing projects, developers have plenty of tasks filling up their day.
Without the right tools and frameworks, effectively managing issues and bugs can quickly become overwhelming. Problems with communication and collaboration can lead to projects falling behind or running over budget. Missed quality assurance and testing issues can degrade user experiences, resulting in decreased retention.
To help your development team perform to the best of its abilities, you must equip them with an issue and bug tracking tool that allows them to spend more time resolving issues and less time managing their to-do lists. Fortunately, we’re here to introduce you to the best bug tracking solution for small development teams: Backlog.
Introducing Backlog: bug tracking software for small development teams
Backlog is a popular issue and bug tracking software platform that helps development teams work together more effectively. With Backlog, teams can effortlessly capture, assign, prioritize, and resolve bugs together.
The software is powerful yet easy-to-use, offering a range of features well-suited to issue and bug tracking, including:
- Issue templates: standardize issue and bug tracking with templates that ensure your team knows exactly what information to document for each bug.
- Real-time collaboration and communication tools: assign tasks, exchange comments, and keep everyone aligned on the status of every bug.
- Git and SVN integration: manage work right from Backlog thanks to built-in Git and SVN repositories.
- Pull requests: review new code with Backlog’s differences viewer, exchange inline comments, and then merge code updates with the main project repository right from Backlog.
- Wikis: create Wikis for each project to streamline access to important resources and project documentation.
We will walk you through how to use Backlog to better manage issues and bugs. We’ll also share how to calculate the Return On Investment (ROI) your team can achieve by switching to Backlog.
How to use Backlog for issue and bug tracking
It’s easy to get started with Backlog. The platform provides an intuitive user experience, with tools designed for developers, by developers. Below, we will explain how to use some of Backlog’s features to upgrade your team’s approach to issue and bug tracking.
If you like, you can activate your free Backlog account and follow along with us. By completing the steps outlined below, you can have your new issue and bug tracking framework up and running in as little as a few minutes.
Creating a new project
To get started, create a new project from your Backlog dashboard. Just click the + icon in the menu bar, then select Add Project.
You’ll be prompted to add a project name and a project key. Ensure these are relevant to your work so team members can quickly identify them. For a bug tracking project, you might call the project “[Product Name] Bug Tracking” and use “BGTRK” as your project key.
Before clicking Submit, check the Advanced Settings of your project and make sure all attributes and functionalities have been enabled.
Adding, editing, and assigning issues and sub-issues
By creating your project, you’ve built the framework for managing bugs and issues. Now, you need to add the bugs and issues you want your team to work on.
Backlog comes with pre-built templates for tracking bugs. To use this template, click Add Issue on the left-hand toolbar. Next, change the issue type to Bug in the first drop-down menu highlighted in red below.
Add all the relevant information your development team needs to address the bug, including:
- Start and due dates
- Any other relevant information
If you need a more custom approach, visit Project Settings, then click Issue Type to create a bespoke template your team can use to track bugs. Use markdown formatting to ensure your team takes a consistent approach when adding a new issue or bug.
For more complex issues and bugs, you can also create issues using a parent-and-child hierarchy. Adding child issues to an existing bug is simple: just navigate to the issue page, then select + Add child issue.
These subtasks are the perfect solution for more complex bugs that require input from several team members. Mastering subtasking in Backlog gives your team a more efficient approach to challenging issues.
Pro tip: once you’ve input all your current bugs, you can automate the creation of new Backlog issues by integrating Backlog with your customer support email account.
Tracking progress with statuses, priorities, and categories
Small development teams are often tasked with managing many bugs at once. That makes it important for everyone to be able to quickly understand progress toward resolving bugs. Using statuses, priorities, categories, and milestones in Backlog makes it easy to create a holistic summary of your team’s workflow.
You can specify each issue’s status, priority, category, and milestone as your team creates and works on these tasks. Of these, statuses are perhaps the most helpful in understanding your team’s workload.
The status of all the issues in a bug tracking project flows up to an online Kanban board, creating a clear visual representation of the status of various bugs. Each status type is a column on the Kanban board. As team members resolve issues, they update the bug’s status, and the Kanban board updates in real-time.
Users can also specify priority levels for individual bugs, helping developers understand which tasks to work on first. Categories are another helpful way to organize bugs: you might have discrete categories for functional bugs, logical bugs, workflow bugs, and so on.
Using Backlog’s code management features
Unlike many other project management tools, Backlog has a range of version control features designed to help small development teams manage their work as efficiently as possible.
Backlog’s built-in Git and SVN repositories make it easy for developers to manage their work product, share code with teammates, and keep everyone updated on their progress.
Team members can discuss their code with their colleagues with Backlog’s inline code review features, exchange comments, send notifications, and more. This makes for a collaborative process that increases productivity.
View differences between code to compare different branches before merging bug fixes into the main code repository for a project. You can do it all in Backlog: there’s no need to use an external system.
Stay updated on your team’s productivity by viewing a complete list of code commits on your project. Monitor changes, see who accomplished which task, and understand the time it takes your team to respond to bug reports.
Create a single source of information for all project details by creating a unique wiki for each project. Here, you can store product documentation, files, images, and more. Team members can update the wiki as projects progress, but you can always compare newer versions of your wiki to previous versions and restore these if required.
Best practices for effective issue and bug tracking
While it isn’t the most exciting task in the world, issue and bug tracking is important to every development team’s work. Without it, it’s impossible to ensure that the products and services their business provides live up to the high expectations of their users.
Resolving issues and bugs effectively and on time demands teams take a thoughtful approach to bug tracking grounded in tried-and-tested best practices. These include:
- Take a comprehensive approach: development teams shouldn’t view bugs as something they only need to apply a quick fix to. Over time, that approach can lead to significant technical debt. Instead, ensure your team asks the right questions to understand each bug and fully arrive at a well-thought-out solution. Combining issue and bug tracking is often the best approach.
- Consider the consequences of the bug: some seemingly minor bugs can have cascading effects on the user experience, sometimes rendering a product unusable. When diagnosing an error, teams should consider the worst-case scenario and ensure their solution adequately addresses this.
- Use bugs as an opportunity to improve: issues and bugs often offer teams an opportunity to improve the quality of their software by revealing user frustrations. As team members work to resolve the bug, they may notice opportunities to tweak the code to improve user experiences. Make sure your team is empowered to make these changes.
Adopting these best practices can dramatically improve your team’s approach to resolving bugs when combined with using a sophisticated bug tracking tool like Backlog. Bug tracking has several clear benefits and is an investment that will deliver a significant ROI. But how exactly can you quantify those returns?
How to calculate the ROI of using Backlog for issue and bug tracking
Whenever your team invests in a new software tool, it does so in the belief that it will positively impact the team’s performance. This impact can be thought of as the Return on Investment, or ROI, of the money your business spends on the tool.
Business leaders often require teams to demonstrate that certain activities and investments have a positive ROI. It makes sense: you work for a business, not a charity. The business’s remit is to grow revenue, deliver profits, and generate a return for its shareholders. Any activities that don’t serve these purposes will likely be on the chopping block come your next budget review.
Determining the ROI of using a software tool to improve your development team’s issue and bug tracking approach can be challenging. In some business areas, such as digital advertising, understanding ROI can be relatively simple. But when it comes to measuring the ROI of a tool like Backlog, things are less straightforward.
Fortunately, we’re here to help with a simple formula you can use to determine the ROI of using Backlog for issue and bug tracking:
ROI = Benefits – CostCost 100%
Let’s unpack this calculation.
There are many benefits to using Backlog for bug tracking, from improving the quality of your product to increasing customer satisfaction. However, these can be hard to measure in financial terms.
The time savings that Backlog produces for your team are far easier to quantify. You should be able to determine the monetary value of one hour of a developer’s time by considering the salaries you pay your developers and working backward from there.
Next, you have to consider how much time Backlog saves your developers. Measure the time taken to resolve issues and bugs both before and after adopting Backlog. If you know that Backlog saves four hours for each developer each month, you’d be able to calculate the dollar amount Backlog saves your team.
Calculating the costs involved with using Backlog is easy: all you have to do is check how much your business is paying for Backlog each month. From there, you have all the numbers you need to perform this calculation and determine the ROI of using Backlog.
A worked example of the ROI of using Backlog for issue and bug tracking
To bring this formula to life, let’s look at a simple example that only considers time savings – not improvements in customer retention or a decrease in the number of bugs. This means that, in reality, the ROI numbers below are likely even higher.
In this example, a small development team of ten developers pays $35 per month for Backlog’s plan for growing teams.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say all our developers make $120,000 a year or $10,000 a month. They work 40 hours a week, meaning that an hour of each developer’s time costs the business $62.50.
After implementing Backlog, the business finds that each developer saves four hours per month thanks to the improved collaboration and project management tools Backlog offers.
We’re left with the following numbers:
Benefits: 10 developers, each saving 4 hours per month, at $62.50 per hour. Total benefits = 10 x 4 x $62.50 = $2,500.00
Costs: $35 per month Backlog subscription.
Now, let’s plug these numbers into our ROI formula:
ROI = $2,500 – $35$35 100% = 7043%
In all, this represents a 70x return on the team’s investment into their $35 Backlog subscription: an absolute home run of an investment.
Best practices for accurately calculating the ROI of software investments
ROI numbers like the above are uncommon. But when affordable, well-designed software tools like Backlog save highly paid employees significant amounts of time, they are entirely possible and can be even higher.
It’s important to make sure that your ROI calculations are robust and consider a wide variety of factors. To ensure your calculations are accurate, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Use high-quality data: the output ROI calculations can only be correct if the inputs are accurate. Make sure you have systems in place to collect precise data. You can also use historical data and leverage industry benchmark data on quality improvement and customer retention metrics.
- Be conservative: any estimates you make as part of these ROI calculations should be conservative to account for any uncertainties. Being cautious in your calculations makes them easier to defend.
- Include sensitivity analysis: performing ROI calculations using a variety of different inputs allows you to account for best-case, most likely-case, and worst-case scenarios, stress testing your assumptions to ensure positive ROI under any circumstances.
- Perform comparisons: compare the ROI a tool like Backlog delivers with alternative solutions to determine which approach is best for your business. You might compare the ROI of using Backlog vs. other bug tracking solutions or vs. your current approach.
Following these best practices will help build an irrefutable case that your investment in Backlog is extremely valuable to your business. And this formula and best practices aren’t unique to Backlog – you can use them to determine the ROI of any software tool you use.
Start tracking and managing issues and bugs with Backlog today
Creating memorable user experiences and developing successful software products demands a lot of work that goes unseen by end users. Issue and bug tracking is one of those tasks. It might not be the most exciting work in the world, but it’s vital to creating a great user experience.
Starting to use Backlog provides small development teams with all the infrastructure they need to embrace a more effective issue and bug tracking system. With a range of collaboration tools and a rich selection of code management features built for developers, Backlog is the perfect solution for tech startups and small teams.