Bug Life Cycle in Software Testing

Every day, the software we test has bugs. But did you know how a bug life cycle works? When does a bug become an issue? How does it get resolved? This blog post will help answer these questions and many more by exploring the different states of the bug life cycle, its roles, and how you can develop a bug life cycle that fits your needs. Let's kick things off with some basics.
Definition
In Software Development Process, the Bug Life Cycle (BLC), also known as Defect Life Cycle, is a basic knowledge that plays an important role to help not only testers but also other stakeholders to manage bugs effectively. It contains stages that a bug will go through during its lifetime, which is initiated when a bug is found until it reaches its closure.
Bug vs. Defect
In reality, Bug and Defect are interchangeably used in software development to mention an error that needs to be addressed. Thus, Bug Life Cycle or Defect Life Cycle is also preferred to the same process to manage an error.
Role of Bug Life Cycle
Software development is a complicated process that involves many stakeholders, activities and phases. It needs to have a well-defined process in place to make information transparent between people and states. The bug life cycle can be useful for anyone involved in the software development process because it makes communications easy between all involved participants.
For testers
When testing, testers will encounter bugs and take responsibility to follow up until bugs are fixed and won't happen again. Good knowledge of bug status will help testers coordinate and communicate smoothly for any bug-related topics between different stakeholders and through various channels.
For developers
When a bug is created, it will be reviewed by the tech lead or product manager before being assigned to developers. Understanding the bug life cycle will help developers to know when bugs are assigned to them. In addition, it's crucial to let testers know whether developers need more information from testers before fixing bugs or let testers know that bugs are ready for retesting after fixed.
For product managers
From Product management's perspective, it's imperative to know the bug status in the life cycle. This is done to manage the timeline and ensure that the bugs will be assigned to the correct person and addressed on time. It can also help management get proper metrics and report to examine the quality of the product and its effectiveness.
States of Bug Life Cycle
The bug life cycle is not a fixed term applied for all testing processes. Depending on what kinds of organization, project types, testing process, management tools, approach (Agile, Waterfall), the bug life cycle will be modified to adapt to the current situation.

The standard bug life cycle is fully established with multiple states which helps to cover as much as possible all the stages during the entire life of a bug. This full version of bug life cycle is usually adopted by large organizations or enterprises where the development process is complicated, or using a traditional process such as waterfall approach, or the main channel of communication between developer and tester is via bug life cycle.
A full bug life cycle
An image depicting the full bug defect life cycle, commonly used in large corporations or enterprises.
  • New: When a new bug gets discovered the first time, it is marked as New.
  • Assigned: After a QA Lead or Product Manager approves the bug, it is then assigned to a developer who will take responsibility to fix it.
  • Open: The developer will investigate and start working to fix this bug.
  • Fixed: The bug is changed to Fixed when a developer makes necessary code changes and confirms the change.
  • Pending Retest: The bug is marked as Pending Retest after the developer conducted a code change, and this bug is waiting for the tester to test again.
  • Retest: Tester will be performing retesting on this bug to determine that the bug is fixed or not.
  • Verified: If the bug does not happen in the application anymore, the tester will approve that this bug is fixed entirely and change the status to Verified.
  • Reopen: If the bug still occurs when the tester retests it, its status is changed to Reopen and pushed back to the life cycle.
  • Closed: Tester will change the status to Closed if this bug no longer exists in the application.
  • Duplicate: When two bugs refer to the same error, one of them will be marked as Duplicate.
  • Rejected: This Rejected status is marked for a bug if the developer confirms that this bug is not new.
  • Deferred: If a bug is changed to Deferred, that means the team will address this bug in the next release. Many factors contribute to a bug being Deferred, such as the bug being low priority, low severity, or limited time for release.
  • Not a bug: If there is no functionality affected by the bug. Example: a request to change text or color in UI. Or a bug is only introduced when testing on a wrong environment/test data. Then the bug is marked as Not a bug.
Simplified bug life cycle
Image of a short bug life cycle, commonly used in more agile environments.
On the other hand, some companies also choose a simple approach to develop their bug life cycle. This means that a bug will have a few statuses from the beginning to the end. This way, a bug will be marked and resolved quickly until it reaches a confident level of closing. In many Agile projects where face-to-face communication is preferred, a short version of BLC will be a good choice in saving time to manage a bug.
How to develop a bug life cycle that fits your needs?
When it comes to adopting a bug life cycle approach, there are many factors you should consider before generating the most suitable bug life cycle for your team:
  • All team members fully understand all definitions of bug status and their responsibility if they own this bug
  • Choose which type of document you want to store the bug life cycle to make it easier for everyone can understand: visualizing by infographic or explaining details in docs/excel table
  • What is the bug management tool you are using to track bugs and make sure that it is well maintained and updated regularly
  • Develop a standard bug report to help everyone understand a bug and have the same understanding when this bug is moved around
Many factors go into creating the perfect suit of armor and battle strategy, so be flexible when exploring what your team needs.
Want to create highly detailed effective bug reports?
Use our template and examples here.
Using Bird Eats Bug to manage the bug life cycle
In the real world of software development, three groups need a better system when bugs aren't managed efficiently: testers, developers, and product managers. And for these three groups, it isn't uncommon for a bug to move back and forth in the bug life cycle due to a lack of information for them to move forward with. The result? A situation where bugs don't get fixed, stakeholders are frustrated, low-quality products released, and a harrowing user experience.

Enter Bird Eats Bug, or Bird for short.

Bird addresses such situations because all bug details, including technical data (console log, network requests, etc.), system information (OS, browsers, etc.), video/screenshot, description are captured in one place (a Bird session). As a tester, developer, or product manager, you can easily find the information you need to move onto the next state in the bug life cycle.
Collection of all technical data auto-collected in every Bird Eats Bug session
On top of that, the Integration feature provided by Bird will also equip you with integrations to tools such as Slack, GitHub, Jira, Linear, Trello and email sharing. What's particularly great about our GitHub integration is the status update—GitHub's Open/Closed status will be automatically synchronized and displayed in your Bird sessions. This way, your team can quickly receive updates on the current GitHub status, and it takes them less time to connect to those integrations. For the company or organization: time saving and maintenance costs are the highlight results to help boost your team's workflow.

Bird Eats Bug really is a time-saving tool. Everyone in your team will find it easier to investigate and fix bugs without being tired of communicating via many bug management channels. As a result, everyone shares the same understanding of the bugs. Bugs are then more manageable and quicker to resolve. As we all know, the faster bugs are fixed, the more money and time we can save to spend on actual feature development.
Conclusion
Bugs are a fact of life in software development, and as such, there is no way to avoid them completely. That being said they can be managed effectively with the right processes in place; bugs should not result from sloppiness but rather an oversight.

The bug life cycle process provides organizations with specific guidelines for how software quality issues should be addressed. This will help ensure that low-quality products don't get released or lie unattended. In contrast, high-priority ones sit on someone's desk waiting for attention.

To learn more about developing a standard bug report in the bug life cycle,
read our
Guide to Bug Reporting, complete with examples and templates.

Put your knowledge to practice

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