As a software process consultant, I am brought into software development organizations that want help developing or re-engineering their software development process.
But one of the most frustrating parts of my job is to have a team excited about improving their process only to be told, "Well that’s nice, but our defect tracking tool can't do it like that...and we can't change how the tool works."
That's why I like working with Soffront's TRACK Defects tool. It is one of the new breed of tools that doesn't assume your organization wants to follow someone else's idea of what a defect management process should include. The current version, TRACK Defects 5.6, is a very useful and powerful tool right out of the box. If their out-of-thebox defect management solution fits your process, you are all set. If, however, you need a more tailored tool to automate your organization's defect management process, TRACK Defects can be easily customized in almost every way you can think of.
- An easy-to-use interface
- An array of built-in queries and reports, with a Query-By-Example-style querying facility
- Automatic email notification of changes (a feature that can generate and send messages through TRACK Defects’ internal mail service or through most of the popular email facilities such as Microsoft Mail and Lotus cc:Mail)
- The ability to attach many different types of files to a defect record
- The ability to link your main relational database table (storing your defects data) to other tables, e.g., a table of contacts/customers, or a system/environment table
- The flexibility to have all dedicated seat licenses, all floating licenses, or some combination
Tool administrators will enjoy features such as TRACK Defects' sophisticated security setup that allows control at the form, subform, field, and data item levels. As an example, the TRACK administrator can stipulate that members of the “Defect Entry” user group can access only certain fields and select only certain values in those fields. Members of the "QA Manager" user group, on the other hand, may be exclusively allowed to change the status of a defect record to "Assigned for Retest," and to change the value of the "Tester Assigned" field.
TRACK’s security controls also extend to system capabilities. For example, the tool administrator can give lead development engineers permission to add values to the selection list for a field. This is useful when Development is delivering versions for System Test, because the lead developer can add the appropriate value to the “Version” field when a version is delivered.
One feature that is not obvious to most end users—but key for system administrators—is that TRACK runs on major relational databases. TRACK Defects comes with dBase built in, and can also be run on larger standard relational databases such as SQL Server and Oracle. Having your defect management system running on a relational database (as opposed to a proprietary database) means you can more easily access the data from other tools or applications.
Links with Other Tools
While it is essential to keep control of defects, the real power for an efficient process comes from being able to tie version control and project management together with defect management for a truly global view. TRACK Defects is easily integrated with Microsoft Project, Intersolv PVCS Version Manager, MS Sourcesafe, and MKS Source Integrity.
While many defect management tools claim to be customizable, users should always ask the questions, "Who can customize it?" and "What exactly can be customized?" TRACK Defects can be customized by almost anyone because the customization is all form-driven. The tool handles all of the database updates based on the forms. This form-based