No piece of software is perfect, so every team that is developing software has to deal with bugs. BetterDoc is no exception.

One of our biggest advantages is that we as the product development team have a direct line to all our users. They’re sitting only a few doors away from us.

While this is enourmosly helpful in making sure we’re developing the right solution, it can also lead to situations, where we simply feel overwhelmed because everyone wants to talk to us at the same time.

To structure this incoming stream of information we have introduced a special role: The bug sheriff.

The idea is to have a dedicated person that works together with other teams to make sure a bug is clearly identified and understood so that we can classify and prioritize the bug and know whether or not we can plan the bugfix in into our regular tasks or if we need to start working on it immediately.

The role of the sheriff rotates amongst our team members every week so that

  1. everyone get’s the chance to talk to our users regularly and understands their point of view and their painponts
  2. the rest of the team can focus on their regular tasks as uninterrupted as possible.

Our sheriff is expected to:

  • read messages coming in in the “bugs and support” channel on Slack and respond to team members that ask for help directly in the “bugs and support” channel.
  • watch the “bugs and support” Trello Board for incoming bug reports.
  • make sure it is transparent to people that reported a bug that we handle the bug and what the status of a bug is.
  • check incoming bugs.
  • clarify questions.
  • make sure our bug board is up to date.

Bug checklist

We have a set of questions we need to answer for every incoming bug:

Is it a feature request or a bug?

If it is a feature request, we put the Trello ticket into the column “Rather a Feature”

Do we need more information?

Does the bug report contain the items defined in bug reporting template? If no, do we really need them for the described problem?

If something is missing, ask for it by commenting on the Trello card and move it to the column “Clarification pending”.

If there is something you need to clarify for a bug that came in freshly, try to talk to the bug reporter directly instead of starting a comment ping-pong game. Ask via Slack if people are available for a quick meeting. Appreciate their efforts to to report a bug and that they take time to clarify the bug.

Is is urgent?

Urgent means do we have to handle it right away, or can this be handled on the next day we want to use for bug fixing?

If it is not urgent, you move it to “Accepted”.

If it is urgent, you inform all people needed in the team to fix the issue right away. Move the bug to “Work in progress”.

Does it have a deadline?

Move the bug to “Accepted” and add a deadline to it. Make sure to communicate the deadline in the daily stand-up and that we plan a fix before the deadline is reached.

Daily bug review

Every day after the stand-up we review the bugs that are new or we need to talk about. The bug sheriff summarises what happened since the last bug review and makes sure time is allocated for urgent bugs and bugs with a deadline. The team discusses and leads decide how much time is allocated for fixing bugs and which bugs have the highest priority for fixing.

Our experience so far

We have tried the bug model for a little over two months now and our experience is extremly positive.

On the one hand our users now have a dedicated person they can talk to and who takes care of their issues as well as keeps them up to date of how things are progressing.

At the same time the sheriff “has the backs” of our team members and allows them to focus on their tasks without getting interrupted to much.

The bug sheriff