November 7, 2022

Error Monitoring: What Makes A Successful Error Monitoring Strategy

Customers have little tolerance for errors in web, mobile, and desktop applications. According to Riverbed, 80% of enterprises say a slowdown to a mission-critical application would have a moderate to severe impact on overall business performance. As a result, it’s critical for software development teams to have an error monitoring strategy in place.

Let’s look at error monitoring, why you might want to consider it, and the best practices with Bugsnag.  

Error monitoring solutions have become essential for software businesses, given rising customer expectations and growing competition.

What is Error Monitoring?

Error monitoring, also known as error tracking, tracks bugs and errors in applications to ensure that they work seamlessly at all times. In addition to discovering new bugs, error monitoring solutions help triage and fix them. The goal is to provide a consistent and error-free user experience while minimizing the time it takes to fix bugs.

Error monitoring falls into two categories:

  • Front end – Front-end monitoring looks at software from the user’s perspective, catching errors in browsers or mobile devices. For example, test engineers might test a new feature in browser instances to ensure there aren’t any errors in the console.
  • Back end – Back-end monitoring identifies errors occurring on servers or across the associated infrastructure. For instance, test engineers might monitor server logs for unhandled exceptions or monitor infrastructure to ensure sufficient memory.

Error monitoring solutions can help simplify these strategies. Full-stack, end-to-end monitoring capabilities enable developers to quickly find and reproduce errors, separate critical errors from garbage errors, and generate a high-level analysis of application-wide errors to support DevOps teams’ deployment decisions.

3 Core Benefits of Error Monitoring

Error monitoring helps reduce the number of errors reaching production users, but that’s far from the only benefit of using error monitoring solutions. Effective error monitoring strategies also can improve a development team’s efficiency and reduce revenue loss. When combined, these benefits often translate to a strong return on investment.

1. Better Customer Experience

Customer experience has become the defining metric for success, but many organizations fail to recognize the importance of error monitoring in improving the customer experience. While an effective test suite can catch major bugs before deployment, many bugs don’t appear until after the code reaches production users.  

Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-competitive world, many customers will move on to the next product rather than report any issues or bugs they experience. As a result, error monitoring is the only truly effective way to uncover and fix problems that unit and end-to-end tests miss – and, therefore, the only way to ensure the best user experience.

2. More Efficient Developers

With reproducing the error and tracing problems from the front end to the back end, conventional bug tracking involves a lot of detective work. In particular, front-end errors can be tough to reproduce since they might be browser- or device-specific. And as a result, developers might waste a lot of time they could spend building features.

Fortunately, error monitoring solutions can dramatically improve efficiency by tracing errors across the application stack, adding bug reports to issue trackers, and even communicating them to the right team members to fix. By automating these tasks, developers can minimize the time they spend fixing bugs and deliver more features.

3. Reduced Revenue Loss

Some errors go beyond the user experience to negatively impact revenue. For example, a mistake in a signup workflow could prevent potential customers from creating an account. Even worse, many high-value workflows aren’t necessarily frequently used, meaning the errors could go unnoticed for a long time, resulting in a slow revenue bleed.

Catching these errors early on is essential to avoid revenue loss. These requirements are particularly critical in e-commerce businesses where an error could mean the difference between a sale and a lost visitor. Fortunately, some error monitoring solutions make defining VIP users and workflows easy to minimize revenue loss.

Best Practices with Bugsnag

Development teams have a lot of choices when it comes to error monitoring and tracking solutions. In most cases, these solutions offer the ability to track bugs, trace their root cause, and create issues. But Bugsnag goes well beyond typical error monitoring solutions to help prioritize errors and ensure the stability of each release.

Increase Confidence with Stability Scores

Many software organizations struggle to balance bug squashing with feature development. At the same time, DevOps teams may find it difficult to determine if a release is ready for production users.

Bugsnag’s Stability Score simplifies these decisions using a single metric – the percentage of sessions without a single unhandled error. After setting a target stability (Service Level Objective) and a critical stability (Service Level Agreement) level, you can automatically monitor new releases to determine if they meet the standards.

Eliminate Notification Fatigue with Smart Alerts

Most people delete spam emails without even reading them. Similarly, developers receiving hundreds of irrelevant notifications are more likely to miss the important notifications in the mix.

At SmartBear, we recognize that not all errors are worth fixing, and notifying developers of every error can lead to notification fatigue. That’s why we make it easy to segment errors based on the teams responsible for fixing them while ensuring the irrelevant errors don’t crowd the workflow. As a result, the right developers can focus on pressing bugs.

Work More Efficiently with Full-Stack Traces

Software applications are becoming increasingly complex with the rise of microservices and front-end frameworks. As a result, fixing bugs has become more and more difficult for developers.  

Bugsnag integrates with source control tools and source maps to provide readable stack traces – even from minified or obfuscated source code. In addition, you can see a timeline of user actions and system broadcasts leading up to an error to reproduce them more quickly. And finally, you can access this data from a single dashboard.

The Bottom Line

Error monitoring strategies are essential in today’s hyper-competitive market. Proactively monitoring releases can ensure a robust user experience, minimize revenue loss, and enhance your team’s productivity. Bugsnag makes it easy to focus on the errors that matter, direct bug fixes to the right team members, and increase confidence in deployments.

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