Bug Tracking Versus Issue Tracking – What's the Difference?
Issue management (aka issue tracking software) and bug tracking software are related pieces of enterprise code. Indeed, many of them use the same underlying source code infrastructure. The difference between them is more one of implementation rather than fundamental structure. Or, put another way – if it's being used to assign problems to developers, it's bug tracking. If it's being used to manage customer issues and assign support staff to resolve them, it's issue tracking.
Defect tracking systems are externally focused – they're designed to track problems with software after it's been released to its general customer base; they're the front lines for getting feedback from users on how the software does not work in the real world.
These tracking systems are also used to guide help desk professionals in getting information out to users, and to solve their problems. A lot of tracking software is geared towards end user education, not getting code problems to the developers. Bug tracking software will list bugs and how they're assigned to the developer; issue tracking systems will take a problem, note who originated it, assign it to help desk staff, and make sure the final solution is conveyed back to the customer.
When it's time to make development lists for new iterations and versions of software, the first place the developers should look is on defect tracking software – what issues did customers come across with the software in the real world? What expectations is the software meeting, what expectations is it not meeting? Any time a segment of the customer base runs into the same issue, you've got an engraved invitation to write in a new feature or new set of usability into the software system.
Once it's back in the developers hands, this goes back into the realm of a bug tracking system, as every source code change eventually triggers an unanticipated event, and something needs to be fixed. The line blurs a bit with automated issue tracking software, where automated reports are sent back to the software publisher. This is, realistically, bug tracking – since the software is reporting internal state variables that are of use to developers; it does not handle the user interaction and education aspects that's more traditionally associated with issue tracking.
So, in conclusion – think of bug tracking software as an internal development tool, and defect tracking software as a customer support tool, and make sure that the logs from the latter are used to inform the former when a new version is being written or updated . After the software is rolled it, it goes to the support team.