Bug Triage: No BS Guide & Best Practices

Bugs are an unfortunate fact of life in the software development game. Software is complex, and complex systems have a tendency to break. But when lots of little breaks are registering all the time, how do you decide which to fix first?

Bug Triage: No BS Guide & Best Practices
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Bugs are an unfortunate fact of life in the software development game. Software is complex, and complex systems have a tendency to break. But when lots of little breaks are registering all the time, how do you decide which to fix first?
That’s where bug triage comes to the rescue with a systematic way to prioritize your bug resolution workload.
If you’re looking for bug-tracking software that drastically simplifies bug triage, Bugpilot might be for you. With it, you can easily detect bugs in your software and gather detailed bug reports from customers.
This guide will tell you all you need to know about bug triage.

What Is Bug Triage?

Triage (in the medical world) is the process of prioritizing patients for care based on the severity of their injuries and illnesses. Bug triage is similar—except instead of prioritizing patients, you’re prioritizing software bugs.
Essentially, the goal of bug triage is to maximize the impact of limited resources. By assigning a priority to each bug, you’re able to prioritize the most important bugs and ensure that they get fixed first by moving them up the backlog or assigning them to teams with more workload capacity.
While bug triage is often done manually, it can also be a partially (or even fully) automated process set up by senior developers and carried out by the organization’s bug tracking tool.

Why Is Bug Triage Important?

Bug triage can save your company money by resolving issues promptly in order of importance. Plus, it helps keep your company’s reputation intact.
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During a bug triage, different departments collaborate to plan and coordinate resolutions. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together to resolve issues to minimize disruptions and downtime in software. Coordination is crucial for projects with tight deadlines. For large, complex projects, both minor and serious defects can quickly pile up.
According to Allied Market Research, 80% of bottlenecks stem from 20% of causes. So, in this context, bugs account for 20% of causes to 80% of the problems in a project. Hence, weeding out particularly bad bugs can significantly improve your software’s performance.
A bug triage will take the pressure off by deciding what to tackle first, who will carry out the necessary work, and how they will do it.
Let’s break down why a bug triage is important even further:

Evaluate and Assess the Defect

Firstly, a bug triage evaluates the bug. This is to establish how severe it is. Agile teams use bug triages to assess the bug and establish what might be required to fix it. There may be defect cases that can be dismissed and closed. In this case, you are shrinking the workload by removing cases that do not need addressing.

Prioritizes Defect Resolution

Once defects are evaluated and assessed, teams are in a stronger position to prioritize their resolution. During a bug triage meeting, bugs and defects are put into categories.
For example, these categories might be:
  • Fix now
  • Fix later
  • Never fix
With the severity verified, teams can make adjustments to their timetables as needed. Moreover, a triage will help teams to hone in on a solution, as well as allocate the appropriate resources to that solution.

Assign Bug Resolution

Agile teams can effectively assign bug resolution to appropriate team members. With a clear plan in place, developers can take definitive and decisive action to resolve the issues.

How Is Bug Triaging Done?

A bug triage can be carried out during the developmental stage or after the product launch. Essentially, developers use bug trackers and customer feedback to identify and prioritize issues at any stage of the process. During a bug triage, different departments collaborate to plan and coordinate resolutions.
It’s worth noting that triage can include things like feature requests and improvements on the original software. Things like feature requests would come lower down on the list of priorities than reports of crashing, for example. Your bug triage will ensure that your team manages all of these issues properly as per their urgency.
There are three important phases to bug triage. Let’s go through them one at a time:

1. The Initial Screening Phase

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The process begins with an initial screening. This is to determine what issues should be investigated and what issues can be closed. To do this, you need to ask some questions about each case:
  • Has this issue been reported before?
  • Could the defect be a mistake on the user’s part?
  • Is the issue causing usability problems?
  • Could something else be causing the issue, a third-party plugin, for example?
  • Can the defect be replicated?
  • Can we reasonably and rationally solve the issue?
If you find that the problem is not in fact with your software, for example, but due to a third-party plugin, ensure you get back to the person who reported the issue with a polite explanation. Also, offer advice on how they can resolve the issue themselves. They could use a different compatible plugin, for instance.

2. The Confirmation Phase

During the confirmation phase, the team confirms all the details of the bug. They also consider possible resolutions and priorities, as well as the security level, both before and after resolution. To do this, they must ask and answer some questions:
  • How shall we measure the security level of the defect before resolution and after?
  • Does everyone involved have the necessary information about the defect?
  • What level of priority will we assign to the defects?
  • How does the resolution impact the current version of the software?
  • Are we documenting the process?
When you’ve answered all these questions and confirmed all the information, you can establish resolutions. Each team member may share their input, which should also be recorded.

3. The Follow-Up Phase

The follow-up phase is to establish how well the original plan is going. You do this by asking for feedback from each team member. They can provide details and reports on testing, replication, and environment.
Ask your team relevant questions about what they’ve been working on. Be prepared to modify your plan as needed. This phase is all about refining your original process to make the scope of the bugs, and the resolution process, clearer. Encourage discussion and input from all team members.

Bug Triage Best Practices

There are a number of bug triage best practices that will help you to manage bugs more efficiently. To close out this guide, let’s go over a few of the most important:

Choose an Automated Bug Reporting Tool

Automated bug reporting tools make life so much easier.
Although manual reporting can help identify customer issues, automated bug reporting can detect these problems before launching your software.
Bug reporting tools are reliable resources that continuously monitor your software and provide detailed reports on metrics to aid you in your bug triage. These might include the bug's frequency and how many people are affected. You can use a platform like Jira for bug triage, which BugPilot integrates with:
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Bugpilot is an automation tool that reports and fixes bugs in seconds. Developers can gain valuable insights into their software to resolve issues and improve usability.
Plus, Bugpilot has a
that enables developers to see the problem as it occurs, so that they can get a clear idea of what it is and how it might be resolved.
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Sort Errors into Categories

Sorting errors into categories will massively help with the resolution process. Consider the following criteria for each category:
  • Immediate action: Resolving these errors as soon as possible is critical because they can have significant negative effects on your system and/or customers. Developers should therefore take action right away, such as holding off on a release until the problem is fixed.
  • Action in the future: Some issues are not huge problems now, but they could escalate in the future if they're not addressed. In these cases, you should define an appropriate timescale for fixing them. When an error currently only affects a few customers but is likely to occur more frequently in the future, use your metrics to determine when it might become worse.
  • No action: These errors do not need to be addressed at all. For instance, they may impact too few customers to justify the cost of fixing them.

Be Honest

If you don’t intend to do something to resolve an issue, then close the case. Give the customer honest feedback as to why you are not taking action. Your work log needs to reflect the steps that you are taking and intend to take. Keeping cases open that you know you won’t work on just clutters your workspace and makes things more confusing.

Don’t be Down About Bugs

Want to establish a workplace culture that resolves bugs quickly? Don’t present them as negatives or failures.
At the risk of sounding cliché—treat every bug you encounter as an opportunity to improve your product.
Not only does this cut down on opportunities for unproductive finger-pointing and scapegoating, but it also encourages everyone to approach their work with a sense of empowerment and ownership.


Bug triage is a vital component in software development, improvement, and maintenance. It assists in streamlining and organizing the resolution of bugs, so that your team can focus more of your attention on more important things.
Speaking of streamlining, Bugpilot takes much of the manual labor out of finding and fixing bugs. Features like AI troubleshooting and automated details make it easier to gain the insights you need, and integrations with tools like Slack, Zendesk, and Notion make them easy to share.
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