squash bugs and not hold up your product roadmap

4 Ways to Squash Bugs — Without Holding Up Your Product Roadmap

A PM has many roles. Bug catcher and collector should be one of them.

Sometimes you catch a bug in your product. Sometimes automated testing picks it up. But a lot of the time, bugs are found by customers.

How embarrassing. It’s like someone coming into your home and seeing a cockroach scuttle across the floor.

Like a polite house guest who “chooses” not to see that spider in the corner of your guestroom, some customers may overlook bugs in your product if they don’t have a big impact on them.

However, for serious bugs, a customer will likely reach out to the support team. In turn, your support team or whoever was in contact with them should let you know about it and if appropriate, find out more information about it.

If that happens, thank the customer for finding it, write up an issue or bug report (more context is always helpful), make sure to make a note to let them know when you resolve it, and then figure out how and when to squash it.

Not sure about the “how” and “when” of decreasing the size of your bug report list? Here are four techniques you can use to start getting that bug count down.

Bug Fumigation

Throw up the figurative plastic bug tent, because no bug will be able to escape a day (or multiple days) dedicated to banishing bugs. With a bug fumigation, your team will clear all other development work from the day and dedicate time to squashing as many bugs as they can.

If you have more bugs than you can fit in just one day of bug squashing, consider spacing out bug fumigation days to one every sprint or so. Another option is to create a “theme” for the bug squashing day. For example, you may have one whole day dedicated to bugs related to a specific feature, or perhaps all bugs related to the UI and/or UX.

Bug the Bounty Hunter

In the “Bug the Bounty Hunger” approach, you’ll provide an incentive for the person who fixes the most and/or hardest to squash bugs in a given period.

Whatever this incentive is is up to you (assuming it’s permitted at your workplace). Perhaps it’s a monetary incentive via a gift card or small bonus. Perhaps it’s an extra “work from home” day, some exclusive company swag, or a literal desktop-sized bug farm. You could even have a team reward rather than individual incentives if you would like.

To make things more even, you can assign a points scale to bugs. For example, you could give out 1 point for small bugs, 3 points for medium bugs, and 7 points for large bugs.

The Flyswatter

The flyswatter approach is simply to kill bugs as they pop up. If you have a small team or a team with extra bandwidth, this could be a great approach.

New bug? Boom. The flyswatter comes down and gets rid of that bug right away.

And oh yeah, if you have a serious security bug, you need to break out the flyswatter and fast. Nobody wants a big scary security bug hanging out in their product.

Venus Fly Trap

With the venus fly trap approach, your team would tackle a couple of bugs here and there — typically prioritized beforehand by the PM and/or team.

A couple to a few per sprint would be enough to ensure the product doesn’t devolve into something unusable. For many teams who don’t have a huge log of bugs, this is a good balance between keeping focused on developing new things, while maintaining the quality of the experience for the customer.

That’s all of them for now. Have a technique you like to use? Drop it in the comments below or hit us up on twitter @producttape.

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