Bug triage sessions (bug scrubs)

Last updated: November 2021

A stuunning ladybug

TL;DR

  1. Prepare for the session. Identify the list of issues you’re going to prioritize
  2. Send invites (product manager and team lead as mandatory) for a 50 mins session
  3. Start the session. Keep the momentum. Focus on prioritization, not the solution
  4. Wrap up with a summary. Share it in a common communication channel.

What is a bug scrub session?

A bug scrub session is a meeting where you aim to analyze, prioritize or close defects with your team.

Having these sessions is crucial to raise awareness of your backlog’s current state of the art. This way, everyone on the team can tackle issues effectively.

Effective issue backlog with bug scrub sessions

1. Preparation phase

Being prepared is crucial, and a way to be prepared is to take a firsthand look at the issues you will be addressing throughout the session.

A way to find out issues on your project is to go into Jira (JIRA Service Desk) and query for them. In your query, gather the issues that belong to your project which are not yet solved nor closed.

Jira issue search and filter tool

Example query

Sorting by created date is a way to provide some insight into older/newer defects. This may impact your decision into which defects would you rather scrub first.

issuetype = Bug AND Status not in (Abandoned, "Released/Done") AND project = "Project Name" ORDER BY created ASC

If anything isn’t comprehensible when going over these issues, comment with as many questions as needed to ensure that the issue is crystal clear for everyone involved.

2. Sending invites (who for?)

Invitation for a Zoom team meeting
Invitation for a Zoom team meeting

Time to invite the team for a 50-minute session. I’d suggest making the project manager and your team lead mandatory for every session. Other than that, it will depend. Since you prepared yourself, you should have an idea of who else should attend.

I’d still suggest that you invite other members even though as being optional, such as designers (if you have any in your team). Designers often have a crucial vision that might come in handy when prioritizing those issues.

3. Start the session strong

Start the session by introducing it to everyone. The reason is that you may have first-time attendants, and everyone should understand what the session is all about.

After everyone in the team is aligned on why we’re doing this session and what will happen, everyone must be aware of the backlog’s current state of the art. This will allow everyone to visualize better where you’re sitting and where you are aiming to go. I’d suggest relying on accurate data, for example, using a Jira (JIRA Service Desk) dashboard table.

Jira dashboard table
Jira dashboard table

Or custom dashboards fully oriented to your current project.

Example

Jira custom dashboard

Given that, open the first issue, read it, and initiate the meeting.

4. Throughout the session

Upon reading an issue, unless everyone attending is familiar with it, I’d suggest that you demonstrate it. Now it’s time to facilitate a discussion on the priority to assign to such an issue.

Having an idea of the solution is cool and all, but the focus should be on prioritizing it, not trying to solve it. Keep the momentum.

Remember, data is king. Use it as much as possible to support you and your team prioritizing those issues. Use questions such as “How many customers is this affecting?” or “Is this blocking customers from performing their actions?”

On the other hand, if the issues are older than six months (adapt this time frame according to the reality of your project), you’ve already decided to let them be. Thus, abandoning/closing them is something you should consider doing. There’s no point in keeping issues open if you’re not going to fix them.

When a decision is made, comment on it, or label it. Be intentional. Document decisions — it saves lives.

5. Wrap-up with a session summary

It is of utmost importance to wrap up the session with everyone aligned on what happened and what might be happening afterward. Not only it gives a sense of accomplishment, but it also enlightens everyone on future goals.

For this, I’d suggest summarizing the session and making it visible to those who could attend and those who could not — for example, using the team’s main communication channel.

Bug scrub wrap-up summary on Slack

These are just guidelines, not rules. Feel free to add your flavors to the sessions and share/add them here. We should often be looking to improve our processes.

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Hey, my name is Sérgio and I’m a Test Automation Engineer by trade. Here you’ll find short and straight to the point articles related to my craft.