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The Bug Hunter

3 March 2016

I created the Bug Hunter process to improve the quality of the product delivered to one of our customers. Before I describe the model and offer some best practices, I want to first explain the results realized from my work as a product owner of a Scrum team.

Motivation and results

Our situation was one that did not include a test team, and the development team had little experience and high turnover. When we reached the final stage to deliver the project, we ran the Bug Hunter process, and as a result, we finished with some interesting results.

During the week of the Bug Hunter competition, we identified 25 bugs. Of the 25 listed bugs, 21 were corrected during the competition. The bugs were also found by members of other teams that were allocated to other deliveries, who in their free time participated in the competition. The difference between the first and second place was only three points; the runner-up was actually part of another project. The team was integrated and the participants began to see the project with more detail. The team was motivated and did not perceive the challenge as work but as a game that was fun to play.

The interest of the was team piqued only when the area manager decided to participate and keep score. When the email was sent, highlighting the manager's score for the team, the team reacted. This was a key factor in the success of the competition, and at this point one can stop and consider that when a leader wants his or her team to do something, the leader should go in and do things first, leading the team by example rather than through orders.

What is the Bug Hunter?

As the name suggests, this is a process that can be used as a friendly competition in which the winner is the one who finds and fixes the most bugs for a given product.

What kind of team can run this process?

You can have your staff organized in a special "Testers' Team," which is a team responsible for checking all planned development activities of your project. Alternatively, you can run the model by its default multitasking and multidisciplinary team. You can extract satisfactory results in both cases.

At what stage of my project should I apply the Bug Hunter technique?

Initially you should consider how the team's deliveries are being made to the customer. If you are working incrementally with minimum viable products, you can apply the technique to each of these phases in the delivery cycle. But it could also be interesting to perform a weeklong competition to complete product delivery or the module.

Who should participate in the Bug Hunter?

The beauty of the game is that it can be open to the entire organization, including non-developers. Secure the involvement of those who are not part of the coding team. Integrate everyone for the competition.

How do I make the game accessible?

Ideally, make the product available on the Web server that points to your test environment. This way, everyone can participate, even if they aren't part of the development process. Another option is to release the code source to everyone so that they can download and run it locally on their machines. However, keep in mind the command-and-control style of management that asks, "Who is doing what and where?" to avoid the possibility of conflicts on the eve of releasing the product to the customer.

How do I control the Bug Hunter?

You can perform control through a simple Excel spreadsheet. Remember that you do not need the perfect tool; you need only the idea and the ability to manage. During the competition, you can send an email to the entire team that contains updates on the number of bugs found and their current ranking. This will encourage those who have already participated as well as those who are simply curious about the competition.

What kind of prize can I award?

You know your company and the things that will get your team excited. The only thing I do not recommend is using money as a reward. This does not create a positive culture, and remember that this model is just a way to motivate the team do better work. You can provide shifts or days off, free lunches, and so on. Think of a way to integrate everyone positively into the award system.

Consider the following before you get started:
  • Determine the duration of the competition; when it will start and end.
  • Determine the prize for the winner.
  • Determine how will you regulate the rules of the competition.

Setting up the competition

Below is one example of how you could use a spreadsheet model for the control aspect of the command-and-control management style.

I set up a table based on 7 lines, stating the key points of how to start the game.
  • Line 1: Set up the Bug Hunter process for the project that will be evaluated for the competition.
  • Line 2: Set a column for types of bugs and their worth in points.
  • Line 3: Set the duration of the competition.
  • Line 4: Set the basic regulations for the game.
  • Line 5: Set the award for the winner.
  • Line 6: Define how to score the competition.
  • Line 7: Explain who can participate in the competition.

Controlling and monitoring results

Line 8 of the table is the header with the information that must be completed.

In line 9, Thor finds the bug and corrects it as a business error that is worth 3 points. By correcting the bug, he earns up to 6 points (3 points x 2). If he had simply found the error, the bug would be open so that others could correct it and score points for the correction.

The last line shows that Captain America has viewed a bug and earned 1 point, but he does not correct it and leaves it open. Thor arrives and fixes it, thus winning 2 points and passing Captain America in the competition. Captain America is motivated to correct bugs he finds.

I would recommend categorizing the competitors by color so that it's easier to count points.

If you have reached the end of this lengthy article, know that it is a simple idea that is managed and organized as a process. If you like the model and try applying it with your team, send me feedback about your results!

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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