Five Simple Rules for a Bug Review Board

Bug Scrub, Bug Review Board, Triage,…, these are a few of the formal names and there are many more informal ones that I cannot print here.  Some other Product Managers have written on this topic.  Ivan Chalif (aka “The Productologist”) wrote the blog How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bug Scrub which is bound to catch the attention of all Product Managers.  The The Cranky Product Manager also wrote a very humorous blog The Joy of the Bug Scrub.  Bug Scrubs (I prefer Bug Review Board or BRB) do not have to be so bad if properly managed.  Here are my five simple rules for a BRB:

  1. Make it a recurring meeting so it is always on the radar of the BRB members.  It is too difficult to get all the key stakeholders together for “one-off” meetings.  How frequent?  It depends on how many customers you have, where in the release lifecycle the product is, and how big the product is.  Weekly should be fine in most cases, although the closer to a release, you may have to go to bi-weekly or daily for a period of time.
  2. Invite just the key stakeholders only, making sure you have representation from the cross functional groups – Engineering, QA, Support, and Pre-sales (System Engineering).  Having too many people in the room can lead to disaster.  Too much democracy in a BRB is sometimes not a good thing.
  3. Do not let the meetings run over. If there is ever a meeting where people get punchy and make bad decisions, it is the BRB.  Schedule a follow-on if you have to.
  4. Always send a reminder (via Outlook for example), reiterating the agenda, reminding people to come prepared, and a high-level summary or status.  The summary might include some particular bugs that BRB members should review beforehand, a note indicating a sharp increase in the number of high-priority bugs, some specific customer-related issues, etc.
  5. Have a specific owner for the BRB meetings.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the Product Manager, although I believe it should be.  Keep in mind that controlling the keyboard has its advantages in keeping the meeting moving and casting the final decision after discussion has waned.

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