@Kate Paulk mentioned many features. How to get there? Is it possible with free tools?
- highly customized Bugzilla (with custom fields added to support our custom workflow process)
- different workflows for different kinds of bugs,
- wiki to document process, maintain checklists etc. Foswiki engine
- we run custom SQL queries to track if all bugs in bugzilla follow the process, and show exceptions to that process (so bugs will not be forgotten and fell thru cracks). It is easy to publish SQL results in wiki using Foswiki plugins with hyperlinks to other wiki pages and to bugzilla.
- we track feedbacks separately (most feedbacks do not result in a bug, but some may be converted to more than one)
- and of course inevitable whiteboard with sticky notes to prioritize bugs and facilitate bug triage.
It took us years to fine-tune our process to this stage, and we are make more tweaks as needed.
All tools can send emails in certain steps, but we rely on central databases (with a web frontend) to handle status. Email is not good for that.
Our tools (bugzilla, Fos wiki, feedback) are Perl-based. It is increasingly hard to find Perl experts. There is very nice Python-based solution, TRAC, which integrates bug tracker, wiki for documentation, and subversion with code viewer (with markup in all parts to link to bug number, changeset, wiki page etc). Very neat, but converting our data will be a struggle, so we did not switched yet.
Wiki is very important part of the whole picture because it allows you to generate hyperlinked web pages with very little predefined structure (all smarts is in plugins). Unless you use abomination like Sharepoint which is easy to start with but almost impossible to customize.