At VersionOne we like to try new things. Experiment with new processes. Inspect and adapt. Hey, I guess we do agile.
Recently we noticed that our bug backlog was beginning to get some cruft in it, so we brainstormed how we could chip away at the list in a meaningful way. We take quality seriously around here and our goal is to provide the highest value product with the best quality that we can.
We have a weekly backlog grooming meeting to discuss and prioritize incoming defects from the field. (Yes, we have defects. It’s software after all!) Through the collaborative input of product managers, testers, and support, high priority items are triaged and assigned out to teams to work on them for the next point release. Medium and low priority defects go into a “Bug Basher” backlog for teams to pull when they have the bandwidth to do so.
We noticed the Bug Bashers backlog growing over time. We knew that those defects were not high priority, but we felt it was a good idea to do a little inspecting since we know that lots of mediums and lows can add up to a bad experience for our customers.
It was also apparent that our focus on delivering stories was keeping us from going too much farther down the defect priority list. So…..we decided to add a little horse power and instituted a Bug Bash Day on a Friday to see how things would go.
We wanted to be pragmatic and effective, so the process turned out to be really simple:
Pick a bug and fix it. That’s it.
Jeff Cook, our director of customer support, instituted the phrase “anything goes when it comes to the close” as a mantra for the day. That just meant that we were looking for stale defects in addition to things we could fix in a day. This mantra got the whole team involved in looking for opportunities to clean things up.
Separately, Cory Wheeler, veteran VersionOne software engineer had organized a “bring your steak to work day”. We love meat around here and what better way to celebrate it, than eat it! It was a day to cook meat, socialize, and hang out over lunch.
We decided to combine the two ideas and “Bug Bashing for Beef” was born.
Here’s a couple pics from the day:
On Monday, Sean McCrohan, VersionOne team lead, posted the results in Slack. The exercise proved to very successful. We had closed 47 bug fixes for the day.
Swarming on bugs for a day helped to focus in and get some small stuff out of the way. It worked so well that this is a practice we plan to do again.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, a Bug Bash Day may work well for you, too. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Beef is optional, but encouraged!