The Art of Debugging: Beyond the Solution

Learn the importance of understanding debugging by using techniques that not only fix issues but also uncover their root causes, ensuring robust and reliable systems in your Revenue Operations.

Debugging is an integral part of system management and software development. However, we believe it’s not just about fixing what’s broken; it’s about understanding why it broke in the first place. This depth of understanding is critical for several reasons, especially within revenue operations (RevOps) or go-to-market (GTM) systems where even minor errors can have significant consequences.v

The Significance of Understanding Debugging

A substantial portion of a technical professional’s time—ranging from 20% to 50%—is spent debugging. As you gain more experience and take on more complex tasks, the time dedicated to debugging doesn’t diminish; rather, the complexity and the difficulty of debugging tasks increase. Thus, honing strong debugging skills is essential. These skills not only enable you to resolve issues efficiently but also provide a deeper insight into the construction and functionality of the systems you work with, which is particularly crucial when joining a new organization.

Steps to Effective Debugging

1. Understand Expectations

The first step in debugging is understanding the expectations and specifics of the reported issue. This often involves conversations with those who reported the bug. It’s essential to grasp not only what is wrong but also why the expected behaviour is deemed correct. For instance, consider these two problem statements:

  • “This quote is not applying the discount as expected; it should be 20%.”
  • “This quote is not applying the discount as expected. Because the Account has a type of Enterprise, it should have a flat 20% discount applied to all quotes.”

The second statement provides context, helping you understand the logic behind the expected behavior, which is crucial for effective debugging.

2. Reproduce the Issue

Reproducing the issue is a very helpful step. This means replicating the bug in a controlled environment to understand how it manifests. If the bug is intermittent, this step can be particularly challenging, but it will be necessary for a more thorough investigation.

3. Isolate the Problem

Once you can reliably reproduce the issue, the next step is isolation. This involves narrowing down the system components or code to identify the precise source of the problem. Techniques for isolation include:

  • Running parts of the transaction in isolation using tools like flow debuggers or anonymous apex.
  • Simplifying the failing case to its bare essentials.
  • Looking for patterns by altering inputs slightly and observing the outcomes.

Isolation can be time-consuming, often taking hours or even days, depending on the system’s complexity.

4. Experiment

Experimentation involves testing various hypotheses about what might be causing the issue. This iterative process of making changes, observing the effects, and refining your understanding is crucial. If your initial experiments don’t yield results, you may need to go back to further isolate (Step 3) and refine your experiments.

5. Identify the Problem

Through isolation and experimentation, the goal is to pinpoint the exact cause of the issue. Think of this step as narrowing down the problem to a specific line of code, flow node, or logic branch.

6. Consider Related Use Cases

Before applying a fix, think about related use cases. Ensure that your solution addresses not just the immediate issue but also doesn’t introduce new bugs or fail in other scenarios.

7. Apply the Solution

Once confident in your diagnosis, apply the fix. However, never assume the first solution that works is the best. Verify that it comprehensively addresses the problem without side effects.

8. Test

Don’t forget to test! Rigorously test the fix in various scenarios to ensure it resolves the issue and doesn’t cause other problems. This step often involves creating new tests or updating existing ones to cover the fixed bug.

9. Create Preventative Measures

Think proactively. Implement measures to prevent similar issues in the future. This might involve enhancing tests, updating documentation, or refining processes to catch such issues earlier.

10. Deploy the Fix

Finally, it’s time to deploy the fix to the live environment. After deployment, continue monitoring to ensure the issue is resolved and no new problems arise. Be prepared to revisit testing if necessary.

Debugging is more than just fixing bugs; it’s about understanding the root causes and preventing future issues. By following a structured approach—understanding the 10 steps to debugging—you not only resolve the immediate problem but also enhance the robustness and reliability of your systems. Want to feel more confident in finding the right solutions to your system issues? Let’s chat.

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