How to Classify Software Bugs?

I started my career as a Software Quality Analyst. My job was to ensure the end products conforms to the customer requirements. As a Software Quality Analyst, you have to think and behave like the ultimate user of the product or solution. You must try all the permutations and combinations besides different kind of scenarios to make sure the end product is stable and does not crash. Detecting software bugs or software defects could be very tricky. Why? Because the software bugs could be hiding in a corner that is not conspicuous 😊. Well, it is true, detecting a software bug could be tricky and difficult.

You must have a good understanding of the requirements before you could embark on the journey of finding software bugs. If you do not understand the ultimate purpose of the software, then you will end up spending a lot of time trying to find software bugs without any success. For my, the most important quality that a Software Quality Analyst must have is patience. It does not mean that you can be a good Software Quality Analyst without domain knowledge. Having a patient attitude helps you to unearth the software bugs which otherwise could creep in the final deliverable.

There are so many things that we can discuss about Software Bugs. For example, Is software bug same as error? Can we automate the Software testing process? But I will restrict this article to classification of Software bugs. This article assumes that you have the basic understanding of the Software Quality testing process. I would share with you the methodology to classify bugs under various categories. So, essentially this article is about “How to classify Software Bugs”.

Let’s start with, Why Software Bug classification is important? Well, you may from your corporate experience can come up with several reasons. But, for me, the most important reason why classification is important is the fact that it helps a Project Manager or a Lead to assign the right resource to fix it. There are several reasons why Software Bugs classification is important and some of them are:

Why Software Bug classification is important?

Why Software Bug classification is important
  • It helps to create relevant test cases and scenarios.
  • It helps to prioritize the fixing of software bugs. For example: a software bug categorized as security defect could be prioritized and resolved faster as compared to a software bug classified as performance defect.
  • It makes the testing process faster and more efficient.
  • It may have impact on the contract with the client. Sometimes, client accept the interim solution even with certain categories of Software Bugs.

Finally, we have reached the section of this article where I am going to share with you several ways in which a software bug can be classified:

How to Classify Software Bugs?

How to Classify Software Bugs

Priority –

  • Software bugs can be classified on the basis of priority or the level of urgency. Most likely, the software bugs that can act as a showstopper will be right at the top of the priority list. The priority of software bugs can be decided on the basis of service level agreement with the client. The software bugs can be prioritized into various categories based on your organization’s needs:
    • Low Priority Software Bugs – The software bugs belonging to low priority category are mostly the cosmetic bugs and do not have impact on the acceptance from the client or the final deliverable. For example, font size, color, typo errors etc. Now be careful here, some of the low priority software bugs can belong to a high impact category software bug. Let me explain it with an example. Let’s say, there is a feature in the software that deals with the online payment. While testing, you found out the online payment mechanism is not working correctly, but you also know that this feature can wait until the next release. Although the software bug related to the online payment mechanism has a high impact, but it could be delayed as it is not required in the current release. Vice-versa is also true. Imagine a typo error in the name of the president or the chief executive officer on the website of a company cannot wait and must be fixed on urgent basis.
    • Medium Priority software Bugs – The software bugs belonging to this category are mostly functionality or feature related but not a showstopper. For example, an online payment system working according to the software specifications, but the confirmation message does not have all the details. It is important to print or display all the details; however, it can be done as a part of the next release.
    • High Priority Software Bugs – The software bugs belonging to this category are mostly functionality or feature related and are a showstopper. If these bugs are not fixed, they will delay the final deliverable. For example, a customer is trying to add grocery items to the cart, but the add to cart button is not working. It’s a showstopper and must be fixed at high priority to let the user proceed to the final payment screen.
    • Urgent Priority Software Bugs – The software bugs belonging to this category are mostly functionality or feature related and are a showstopper. Let me remind you again, an urgent or high priority software bug doesn’t always have to be related to feature or functionality. As explained earlier, a simple typo could be treated and classified as Urgent Priority Software Bug.

Severity –

  • Software bugs can be classified on the basis of severity or the level of technical impact. This classification of bugs could range from simple cosmetic issues to functionality related issues:
    • Low Severity Software Bugs – The severity or the technical impact of Low Severity Software Bugs is insignificant. Low Severity Software Bugs are mostly related to cosmetic issues like misprints, color of the screen etc…
    • Medium Severity Software Bugs – The Medium Severity Software Bugs are related to functional requirements specified in the specification documents. These kinds of bugs are results of inconsistency between the required and the actual behavior of the application. For example, the text area was required to allow minimum of 500 characters, but the user is restricted to only 200 characters.
    • High Severity Software Bugs – The High-Level Severity Bugs will be result of a complete mismatch between the client requirements and the actual output from the application. These Software Bugs may be showstoppers. For example, the requirement document clearly explains the logic to allocate cost from source to destination, but the application is doing it incorrectly.
    • Critical Severity Software Bugs – A complete showstopper. The Critical Severity Software Bugs will not allow the testing process to continue. They will have a high impact on the working of the software application. For example, the application crashes while trying to login.

Behavioral –

  • I personally like to classify the Software Bugs based on their nature or their characteristics. It is very important and helps to prioritize and allocate resources accordingly:
    • Security Software Bugs – The applications, especially that can be accesses online, are susceptible to security issues. It’s not only the application but the userbase is also vulnerable to cyber fraud. Stealing of personal information including bank account , credit card details have become a common issue. While testing an application, it is very important o look for security related software bugs.
    • Usability Software Bugs – Navigation through the application, number of clicks to complete a transaction, meaningful dialogue box are very important to enhance the user experience. Usability Software Bugs are related to the user experience while working on the application. One of the major objectives of a developer should be to have smooth and simple navigation. The User Interface (UI) should be designed in the most effective manner avoiding any cluttering of the controls.
    • Functional Software Bugs – Compliance with the user requirements is critical for the success of the project. If the final application does not meet the user requirements, it is absolutely of no use. Functional Software Bugs are issues related to the difference in the behavior of the application with respect to the requirements specification document.
    • Performance Software Bugs – The resources are and will always remain a constraint. The Performance Software Bugs are related to the performance of the software application. It is mostly to do with the speed, response time, scalability and resource consumption. The software applications must be optimized and tested for their behavior under stressful conditions.

Although I have tried to classify the Software Bugs based on certain parameters, you can customize it and classify the Software Bugs based on your specific needs. The Software Bugs tracking, and reporting plays a very critical role in the Software Development lifecycle and should be carried out with utmost planning. I hope you like this article. You can read other articles from me by following the link: https://strangehoot.com/author/esiddique/ .

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