Bug & Defect Tracking
Throughout the course of research and working with data—User Interview, Usability Test, Video Analysis, Well-Managed Data—a number of bugs, breakdowns, and defects become apparent. We need to capture these tensions, even just the little rough edges, in a way that will make the team aware and ensure they can be acted upon.
All types of work can surface small, actionable insights that are outside of the scope of the main research question. Even the smaller bugs and defects outside the path of your research, may be symptoms of a larger, underlying issue, or be easily addressable by other teams already invested in that topic-area.
These small bites may be overlooked in favor of insight that drives the main research question forward, but they are an important part of the larger goal in delivering healthy and humane products or services. A rigorous research practice will not let these items fall through the cracks, and attend to the details—strategically choosing if, and how, to act on them.
Research becomes more important when you can provide value at multiple levels. The small fixes and easy wins that improve the experience give the team immediate value and provide momentum to teams who can act on them. Larger issues may point to more systemic concerns the team should discuss. Consider which mechanisms are already in place for reporting or tracking these types of issues, learn how they work, and become an active participant in the wider aim of improving the product.
Therefore, catalog the bugs, issues, and defects you see in the work, even when it's not in your primary scope. Ensure you note the issues in a simple way that will point you back to the source context and evidence. Enter these items into whatever systems the team uses track bugs, issues, or ideas. If an issue is of critical severity, incorporate it into the main body of your effort.
Otherwise, allow for in-place prioritization mechanisms to handle the issue appropriately, and be prepared to actively follow-up and clarify when teams commit to addressing an item you’ve surfaced.
Offering well-framed and actionable insights to other teams is an oblique contributor to Research Evangelization, and learning how bugs and defects move through the development process helps you establish the sense of timing required for simple Development Cycle Coupling.