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Dealing with bugs in SaaS
In the world of SaaS, bugs are inevitable for innovating companies. Your customers only see the downside, so management of bugs is a key issue..
Dealing with bugs in a timely manner is at the heart of preventing churn (read our post on minimizing churn here) and why it’s so important to have an effective bug management system in place.
This post won’t cover the act of fixing bugs, but rather the process by which they’re fixed, and how to prevent some of the most common issues that can arise.
While bugs can never be eliminated altogether, the best businesses will research their top clients’ operating systems and hardware, so that they can test new software on as many relevant environments as possible before it goes live.
The typical bug management system
First, a bug is discovered. In an ideal world, 100% of these discoveries would be by developers during a testing phase. In the real world, it’s often customers who will report the bug to customer care. The important thing here is for them to get as much detail as possible without taking too much time over it!
The bug is then logged into a task management system, which allows the CTO to allocate the bug to a dev to be fixed. More systemic bugs that concern the base code of the software may require a more upscaled response than this, but for smaller bugs this process works fairly well.
Problems and solutions
Problems do arise, however, when the CTO doesn’t communicate clearly enough with customer care about task allocation. In a worst-case scenario, this can lead to bugs not being fixed - everyone simply assumes that someone else has been allocated to the task.
It’s crucial to eliminate any chance of delays like this in your bug fixing process, since keeping customers waiting will inevitably lead to churn.
At CANDDi, we’ve found two changes to our process helped immensely. The first of these is for customer support to give each reported bug a red, amber, or green light.
A red status indicates a critical bug that must be dealt with as quickly as possible. These may prevent a customer from performing crucial action in the software, or remove functionality altogether.
Green status bugs are less important issues that either don’t affect the software’s functionality in any major way, or can be worked around. The amber status falls between these two, and is applied to any bugs that have a significant impact on performance but aren’t quite critical.
The second crucial aspect of our process for dealing with bugs is the intervention of a third party. In our case, this is our CEO. He keeps track of the traffic light rating of each bug, and meets with the CTO to find out the “why”, rather than the “what”.
This third party ensures things never stagnate because of lack of communication. Without a process, the skill of the dev team isn’t focused upon client critical issues.