Tweet to report defects!

Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we used to communicate in the past. Instead of email, people are finding them as a better communication medium. These 2 are often the mediums to get the instant first hand information on almost anything.

There have been times and even today we use various tools, OSS or Paid, to report and manage defects so as to keep a record for any product development team. Let us revisit what these systems provide and how are they used by various teams.

Defect Cycle configured in any Defect Management Team (generally followed by most of the teams in various companies)

  1. Open a new defect
  2. Provide Summary
  3. Write complete description on how to reproduce that defect
  4. Assign proper severity/priority and other details like build number, browser etc.
  5. Save the defect
  6. The Test Lead evaluates the defect and, if valid, assigns it to the dev lead
  7. The dev lead assigns it to the dev engineer
  8. The dev engineer fixes the defect and routes it back to the test lead
  9. The test engineer verifies the defect and if found fixed closes the same
  10. If not fixed, the defect is reopened and routed back to the dev engineer

In the whole process there are various checks where automatic emails are sent to the stakeholders (mostly configured for steps 5 to 10 above) to notify about the incoming defects or change of state, if any. There are various processes also defined that make it mandatory for any lead to review all the logged defects at the end of day or participate in defect triaging meetings scheduled regularly. Overall these tools and processes are good to keep focus on defect reporting and fixing, but here are the limitations/disadvantages that they bring in.

Limitations of current Defect Management Systems

  1. Communication lag: There is an overall communication lag between testing and development teams. Both the teams often communicate by putting comments for any particular defect which wastes a lot of time in turn and sometimes they don’t understand each other’s point.
  2. Defect language issues: Many a times it is raised that the testing team is not drafting the defects correctly. Or the summary of the defect does not communicate exactly what is mentioned in the description.
  3. More meetings as project progresses: Frequent defect triage meetings are needed to keep a tap on incoming vs closed defects. Also, in such meetings the lead is mostly explaining the defects and might not be able to do complete justice to the defect.
  4. Time lag: It has also been seen that whenever any tester finds a new defect, the tester first notes that down in his/her local file and at the end of the day logs all of them into the defect management system with all the details. Due to this sometimes critical defects that needs immediate attention by other stakeholders lose time to take action.

If we look at twitter and how it has changed the communication, I feel that if we integrate twitter in our day to day defect reporting mechanism, the whole process can be made better.

How Twitter can help

  1. Whenever a defect is found, the tester tweets about it. The developer and tester can discuss it immediately and both of them can agree/disagree on the same.
  2. Twitters 140 chars limit will force tester/developer to be more crisp in doing the communication about the defect. It will also help them in improving their communication skills.
  3. Unnecessary mail communication can be minimized as everything can be discussed live.
  4. As the defects will be discussed immediately, so it will remove the need of having (sometimes) unnecessary triage meetings.
  5. The whole product team/sub teams will be together on twitter so they will be able to immediately know which area of product is getting more defects.
  6. The management can also have a feeling of how the two teams are performing and can have a complete access to each individual in the team, at the time of need.

As the world is moving towards Agile based development and it is definitely bringing development and testing teams more closer, twitter can play a very important role in building harmony between both the teams. Though it might not be as easy to implement as it is said above due to various issues like

  1. This will require teams to be online everytime, and teams might complain of wasting their times due to this.
  2. Managers who are driven by metrics might feel this a bit unrealistic as they will not be able to measure based on tweets.
  3. To keep track of the defects, the defect needs to be logged into the defect management system that will definitely require some extra time.

Defect reporting is only one form where Twitter can help. It can also be helpful during test case creation, evaluation, testing etc. Let us see how things converge to build a better platform for futuristic teams. Feel free to post your comments/thoughts on the same.


8 thoughts on “Tweet to report defects!

  1. Ugh, no thanks.

    No developer I know of wants to be constantly interrupted to discuss a bug – any more than testers want to be constantly interrupted to explain their bug reports. Developers and Testers both need stretches of uninterrupted time to get in the zone and do their best work.

    140 characters is far too stringent a limitation for bug reports. Succinctness is good, but arbitrary limitations like that are a bit much. Would you encourage txting abbreviations? Ugh.


    1. Thanks for raising more challenges that will be there to implement this approach.

      The first point that you mentioned has been covered as a challenge in my post and YES, it will be a big challenge to implement and adapted by teams due to reasons that are mentioned by you. There might be ways that can get us rid of that challenge, but am not sure completely how that can be achieved at this point of time.

      Coming to the second point, in any of the defect tracking tools, the character limit that is set for defect Headline/Summary/Title is not more than 100 chars. So when we expect a tester to provide summary in 100 chars for any defect, then twitter is providing 40 char extra to this limit.

      Teams (Dev or tester) are always a bit reluctant to try new ways and methodologies. The new ways are not immediately accepted because they require a change. A change of thinking, a change of working. If you look at the communication model in waterfall times, developer and tester were very much comfortable in that. But business found something missing. And then there came Agile, which has changed the overall way of working of the teams. It has improved the communication between the teams so that people can provide inputs to each other and the whole team remains on the same page. Daily meetings in Agile, constant updates to the teams and testing everything before providing to the testing team would not have been possible without the change in behaviour of the teams. So definitely, the approach that I talked about will also require some kind of changes.


      1. So you will Tweet the 100 character summary, plus an additional 40 characters? Not nearly enough.

        In my opinion, a good bug report has
        – a good Title (which is the Summary, in your terms)
        – a paragraph describing the problem effectively
        – steps to reproduce the problem
        – the expected results
        – the actual results
        – optional attachments for other relevant information, including snapshots, important files, etc

        A good bug report is supposed to be a communication from the reporter to interested parties, indicating a potential problem, making it easy for folks to see the problem themselves, and providing a record for later analysis. Tweets do none of that.

        The fact that Agile works for you, and may have taken adjustments before it was adopted by your team, doesn’t have anything to do with attempting to reduce effective Bug Reports to a 140-character tweet.

        Sorry, I stand by my “Ugh”.


  2. Joe, I think you have misinterpreted my post. I nowhere said that twitter will replace the existing defect management system. If you see I wrote “…integrate twitter in our day to day defect reporting mechanism”
    And as a challenge and to put in all the details that you want to have in a defect, I mentioned that “# To keep track of the defects, the defect needs to be logged into the defect management system that will definitely require some extra time.”

    I hope it clarifies the things and make your understanding a bit clearer.

    I agree twitter alone cannot do it, but it can be used to improve an overall communication gaps between teams. And it will, sooner or later, do it.


    1. I guess we’ll agree to disagree, Vipul.

      I encourage my team to avoid interrupting Developers, unless it’s really necessary. And I encourage the Developers to extend us the same courtesy.

      We use Bugzilla, which can optionally send email notification to the subscribed parties when a bug report is assigned to them. Then the developer can read about all of them when the time is right, rather than interrupting their train of thought.

      I suppose you could tweet, call them, instant message, email, and even throw a ball of paper at them. In almost all cases, I’d prefer just a bug report.


  3. The way i see it, this would be akin to the pager. you don’t see the entire message, but you know something is going on and needs to be looked at. It would work for some people and not would some.

    Personally, I’d rather have the detail of Joe’s 2nd reply along with the flexibility of a tweet. But when it all comes down to it, nothing still beats the ability to bring up an issue directly to the developer/stakeholder whether you do it face to face, smoke signals or semaphore.

    The issue just needs to be communicated. Great post Vipul, it just took me forever to comment.


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