7 Tips to Write Effective Software Defect Reports

7 Tips to Write Effective Software Defect Reports

Nothing is perfect. Even the best software has defects. 

The only difference between highly successful and non-successful software products is different approaches to testing and quality assurance.

Do you want to make your project a success? The first step you should take is to learn how to write effective software defect reports. Here are seven tips that might help you.

How to Write Effective Software Defect Reports

1. Use a standardized report template

You don’t need to write every new defect report from scratch. You can design a template and then use it to create reports fast.

Let’s take a look at the following simple template. You can customize it to your needs. 

  • Reporter: Your name and email (or other contact information).
  • Product: Name of the software tested.
  • Version: Version of the software tested.
  • Component: The chosen sub-module of the software product.
  • Hardware platform: Specify whether you have used PC, MAC, HP, or any other platform.
  • Operating system: List the operating systems where the defect occurs, and don’t forget to specify the versions used, for instance, Windows NT or Windows 2000.
  • Priority: Make it clear to the developers when they should fix the defect. You can prioritize each defect from P1 to P5. P1 means that the defect must be fixed as soon as possible. P5 means that developers can start working on this defect when time permits.
  • Severity: Specify the type of defect’s severity:
    • Blocker: The type of bug that doesn’t allow further testing.
    • Critical: This defect can cause an application crash or data loss.
    • Major: This defect can lead to a major loss of the product’s function.
    • Minor: This defect can cause a minor loss of the product’s function.
    • Trivial: The fix of this bug will enhance the user interface.
    • Enhancement: The fix of the defect will result in the enhancement of a chosen function. 
  • Assign To: Specify the name of the developer responsible for fixing the defect, if any.
  • URL: Add a link to the defected webpage, if any.
  • Summary: Describe the defect briefly (preferably under 60 words) 
  • Description: Provide more details regarding when and how the defect occurs: 
    • List the exact steps to reproduce the bug.
    • Describe the behavior of the bug and the actual results of the software work.
    • Explain how exactly the product should work when a user completes these steps.
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2. Be specific 

The main purpose of writing a software defect report is to explain to developers what specific issues they should fix, when, why, and how.

It’s not enough to write that “button ‘Request Payment’ doesn’t work correctly”. It’s necessary to provide more specific information. Here is an example:

  • Description: Application crashes on clicking the ‘Set Up Payments’ button while adding a new payment method. Users are unable to manage their payments in the application.
  • Steps To Reproduce:
    • Login into the Application
    • Navigate to the Reports > Available funds 
    • Click on the ‘Set Up Payments’ button
    • See an error message “G630” 
    • A screenshot of the error message is attached
  • Bug behavior: Bug disables the payment feature of the application.
  • Expected Result: After clicking the ‘Set Up Payments’ button, the user should be directed to a “Get Paid” page.
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3. Keep it short

Software developers don’t have time to read long reports. For this reason, you should keep your writing concise and to the point.

Firstly, make sure that you don’t state the same idea twice in one document. Secondly, try to eliminate wordiness. For instance, replace the phrase “has the ability to” with the verb “can,” or phrase “due to the fact that” with the word “because”.

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4. Add bulleted or numbered lists

Effective software detects reports must have a clear structure and be easy to read. Keep that in mind when formatting your document. 

Consider using bulleted or numbered lists where it’s possible. It will help you to make the text scannable and visually appealing.

5. Proofread it

Everyone makes mistakes. Developers make programming mistakes. You make grammar mistakes and typos. It’s a common thing. 

Naturally, all the errors must be fixed. You can proofread your reports by yourself. Or, you can check essay writing services reviews and find a professional proofreader. Also, you can use online grammar checkers to proofread your texts automatically.

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6. Focus on facts

The software defect report must be based on facts only. It shouldn’t contain suggestions and accusations.

Your task is to identify defects and be objective in describing them. You are not allowed to blame the developers for the mistakes made. 

Defects are an integral part of the software development process. So please, don’t put the blame on developers – your subjective opinion may discourage them and affect their productivity. Also, it may negatively influence your relationship with your team members.

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7. Support your claims with visuals 

Your software bug report will not be full without the supporting documentation. So please, don’t forget to add screenshots of the error messages or the final results. Also, consider recording a video of your screen to show developers the steps you take before the bug occurs.

Wrapping up

Whether you are a software tester or quality assurance engineer, you should know how to write a compelling software defect report and help developers to solve an issue quickly.

You don’t need to have high writing skills. You just need to be an articulate communicator and use these simple tips.

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