Problem Reports

What makes a good problem report?

Good problem reports are clear, complete, and objective. IEEE standard 1044-1993 is a useful source of ideas for fields and processes around bug tracking. There are lots of defect tracking systems available on the market. Two industrial-strength products are ClearDDTS for Unix, and ClearQuest for Windows, both from Rational Software. Note that my interest in recommending these is somewhat vested, since I worked on both products, but I do believe they are two of the most flexible products on the market.

At a minimum the initial report should include:

Good problem report metrics

Establishing good metrics is really hard. If you're interested in starting a metrics program, take a class first. If you want to read a book, Making Software Measurement Work, by Bill Hetzel is a good one. Practical Software Metrics for Project Management and Process Improvement by Robert Grady is a classic. All responsible metrics books include a warning to start slowly. Kids, don't try this at home.

Bad problem report metrics

It can be argued that any single metric is a bad metric. You can never get the whole picture from a single metric, and any single metric will skew the team's behavior in that direction. That being said, there are a number of metrics that will almost always cause trouble.


Copyright 1998 Anne Powell

last update 3/8/98