Defect Life Cycle: Explained

Jun 10, 2024

A software defect is any flaw that impacts the intended function or user experience. Unlike bugs which are flaws just in the code, a defect can be any problem that might reduce the functionality of the software, including necessary improvements to the design and original features.

Defects can be detected during the testing process or reported by a user. No matter how they arrive, however, the Defect life cycle involves attentive verification and repair before the defect record can be closed. If you are in the business of software development, understanding the defect lifecycle is essential for high-performance releases and rapid improvement cycles.

Let’s dive right into the natural lifecycle of a software defect.

What is the Defect Life Cycle?

The defect life cycle is the process by which bugs and defects in software are detected, tested, and resolved. 

Development teams form a structured process that is able to quickly respond to defects identified through rigorous testing or by users after production. Building a robust defect lifecycle makes it possible to swiftly eliminate problems before your software or version updates are released and resolve user complaints quickly.

Stages of the Defect Life Cycle

There are approximately seven stages to the defect lifecycle:

  1. Detection
  2. Documentation
  3. Assignment
  4. Replication
  5. Correction
  6. Retest
  7. Closure

Each team will build it’s own unique flow when addressing how they resolve defects based on the software and the structure of the team itself. However, defects will traditionally follow this path from initial detection to final closure, as these are the practical stages of addressing any type of software flaw.

Defect Life Cycle Status Types

In addition to the stages of the defect lifecyle, various statuses may be applied to each defect along its path. The status of a defect allows the team and project managers to quickly identify where a defect is in the lifecycle, including whether it is progressing optimally or if there are delays.

Here is the list of most common defect lifecycle status messages and what they mean:

  • New or Opened – A new defect has been submitted.
  • Deferred, Delayed, or Postponed – There has been a delay in the resolution process.
  • Assigned – The defect has been assigned to a tester, developer, or team.
  • In Progress – The defect is being resolved.
  • Fixed – The defect has been resolved.
  • Pending Retest – The solution is waiting for retesting to confirm success.
  • Verified or Closed – The defect is resolved and the issue is closed.
  • Reopened – The defect failed testing or a similar problem has been reported.

The Defect Life Cycle has many stages from start to close.
Defect Life Cycle goes through many stages from start to close.

1. Detection or Reporting

The first step in the defect lifecycle is detection. Testing teams organize rigorous quality assurance (QA) tests designed to explore every feature and confirm that each aspect of the code is working the way it should. This is a reliable way to identify bugs through predictable use-case scenarios. 

In addition to intentional detection, defects can enter the defect lifecycle through reports from users who may have encountered unexpected conditions on their personal computers or are exploring unpredicted use cases. These reports are useful because it gives your team a chance to resolve a defect before a second user encounters the same problem.

2. Detailed Documentation

Once a defect has been detected, it must be documented. This involves meticulously recording:

  • The defect: a software bug, performance issue, or user experience problem that needs to be resolved
  • The conditions: The circumstances in which the defect appears
  • The incident: Exactly when and how the defect was detected

These details are added to a database and/or task system used by the team to keep track of defects that are processing through the defect lifecycle. During documentation, testers may attempt to replicate the defect in order to gather more information, hunting down the exact conditions and likely source of the problem to speed up the resolution process.

3. Review and Assignment

The documented defect is then reviewed by a project manager. Based on the details available, it will be assigned either directly to a developer or to a testing team to begin the verification and resolution process.

Reviewing a defect involves assessing the type of defect it is, where the problem likely comes from, and the steps that are likely necessary to fully identify and correct the problem.

This stage typically also updates the status of the defect within the lifecycle system, where the defect may be marked as “in process” and the person/team assigned to the defect are added to the records.

4. Investigation and Replication of the Defect

Once the defect is assigned, the investigation begins.

The first stage of investigation is to replicate the defect. This requires the recreation of the conditions where the defect was detected and consistently causing the defect to reappear in the test environment using a documented set of steps.

When the defect can be reliably replicated, it becomes possible to identify the source of the problem and the correct course to fix it. The replication process, error messages, and/or user experience issues are carefully documented to that the problem can be resolved.

5. Defect Correction

With the details of the investigation, a developer will embark on correcting the defect. This process involves rebuilding the code or assets that create the problem so that the problem is eliminated. If the defect is a bug, the code itself will be corrected. If the defect is an issue with the design or user experience, assets may be rearranged or the interactive flow reordered to ensure a smooth, enjoyable, and functional experience in the place of the reported problem.

6. Retesting to Confirm the Solution

Repairs do not always provide the intended results. This is why defects, once corrected, often go through an additional testing cycle known as retesting. The testing team will prepare a sequence of use cases and conditions to ensure that the solution has fully removed the defect before corrections are updated to the live website, app, or user software.

7. Close the Defect Record

When the defect is fully resolved, the matter can be closed. At this point, the defect will atain the ‘close’ status and will be archived. Archiving a defect allows it’s records to remain available for future reference but removes it from the list of defects actively being addressed.

Empowering Your Defect Life Cycle with AI Testing

The testing process for any software must be rigorous and thorough. It is necessary to test new features and repaired defects in multiple conditions and use sequences to ensure that the flaw does not resurface in any possible use case. AI provides the tireless and meticulous qualities necessary to not only efficiently test software, but also minimize tests only to what is necessary within the scope of each potential defect.

If your team is looking for a way to streamline the testing process while improving the value of test results, explore the Appsurify AI testing toolkit. Contact us today to learn more.