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Top 5 tips for managing software incidents

You’re going to have bugs in your software. Tom Merritt explains how to manage when you find them to prevent them from being a recurring problem.

Focused developer coding on computer monitors working late in office
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Software. It’s buggy. Always. Even when you did everything in your power to keep the bugs out. As soon as real people start using it, the bugs come out of the codewood, so to speak.

It’s not whether your code is bug-free but how you deal with bugs that counts. The more efficiently you squash them and learn from them the better.

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Here are five tips for managing software incidents.

  1. Collect data. Yes you want to get the bug fixed, but you want to learn from it, too. And yes, all the data will likely be there later, but collecting things like relevant sections of logs and screenshots while it’s happening is going to make it much easier to do a post-mortem.
  2. Fix the bug. I mean, this may seem obvious but don’t lose the forest for the trees. And don’t, as some companies do–not yours, of course, but some companies do–let the problem linger in the “to be fixed” list until it becomes a security risk and you don’t have time to properly document it.
  3. Investigate as soon as it’s over. Once you’ve fixed it, have a developer take charge while everything is still fresh. Collect all that data you preserved and get the info recorded from everyone involved, so it’s clear what happened.
  4. Review quickly. Once you’ve organized all the info, don’t wait. Within a week bring together everyone impacted by it and do 30 minutes or so on what happened and what you can do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  5. Share what you learned. Don’t hide that report away. Make it available where everyone in the company can access it and learn from it even if they weren’t impacted.

Yes you will have bugs, but hopefully the big ones will be few and far between, and you’ll get faster and better at dealing with them.

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