How To Improve Software Development Workflows

2021-11-24 17:27:18
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Summary : Learn ways to improve software development workflows in your organization. See how a management tool like Zentao can help your team perform better.

How To Improve Software Development Workflows

How To Improve Software Development Workflows

Software development workflows define how a project progresses to complete the product requirements of clients. Without a definitive workflow to follow, teams will be in disarray on how to proceed with tasks and it will be impossible to finish a working software. However, even an organization with working software development workflows still face issues as they encounter new problems in the process as the project life cycle continues.

If you’re having problems with your software development process, here are tips to consider and apply to your organization.

Top Ways To Improve Your Software Development Workflow

1.Develop in iterations

The usual software development workflow goes like this:

  • Requirements are established and expected results at the end of the project are discussed

  • The codes are written based on the requirements 

  • The software is tested for issues to ensure it can be deployed without problems

But in reality, by the time the product is ready, it’s questionable whether the software is competent enough for the market’s demands. This approach can be considered too linear and idealistic because it assumes things will go smoothly with only minor issues to deal with. It doesn’t account for the unknown variables that can cause product backlog and changes in deliverables. 

By adopting Agile’s iterative development methodology, the product can continuously be tested during development to test its competitiveness and functionality. Feedback can also be incorporated to make sure the software matches client expectations.

2.Allow room for changes in the workflow

Continuous improvement should be the mindset to achieve optimal workflow

Fig. 1. Continuous improvement should be the mindset to achieve optimal workflow

(Source: Freepik)

Your software development workflow defines how the project should proceed to get things done. Phases are usually divided into backlog, planning, doing, reviewing, and deployment to assess the progress of the project. 

But things don’t usually go as planned and adjustments have to deal with inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the current software development workflow. You can tell whether you have an optimal workflow or you need improvement by asking the following questions:

  • Where do bottlenecks occur? 

  • Why do some tasks get reopened more often than others?

  • Are there idle tasks that no one wants to take?

  • Where do you incorporate client or customer feedback in the process? 

  • Are you finishing the deliverables on time? 

It’s okay if your initial or new workflow has flaws and holes in it. Testing the process several times will reveal its weaknesses and this is where you must adjust accordingly to improve the process.

3.Define what is ‘Done’

Tagging a task as ‘Done’ or ‘Completed’ has to meet strict criteria. Once an item has been tagged as done, it should be finished in terms of functionality and quality. To do this, consider setting rules like the following:

  • Expected features have been implemented

  • Code reviews by the QA team and has passed all forms of testing

  • Its documentation is up-to-date

  • Code has been deployed in production

If the feature needs rework, then it shouldn’t be tagged as Done. This gives the team a general idea of how the whole project is progressing and which tasks have recurring issues. Improving this area of the software development workflow eliminates the ping-pong effect that is one of the major resource vacuums.

4.Ensure transparency within the team

Ensure everyone has visibility on vital information

Fig. 2. Ensure everyone has visibility on vital information 

(Source: Unsplash)

Do all the stakeholders of the project know its status? All team members, plus the management, sales, and even clients must know how the project is progressing. It should be clear to everyone what are the items being worked on and whether the project is still on track with its expected timeline.

Having a Kanban tool can be handy in visualizing work progress. It immediately gives you an idea of where the team is at even without the need to ask for status updates. 

However, for the tool to be effective, everyone in the team should be transparent on how they’re managing assigned tasks. Hiding issues and difficulties in completing a task can only cause project delays that could have been avoided if all the stakeholders were able to take part in coming up with a solution for the problem.

5.Use a shift-left approach

In an Agile environment, teams need to move faster and reduce the length of time to deliver projects. At the same time, there’s pressure to improve the quality standards of each release, thus calling for a better software development workflow that can accommodate such demands.

Traditionally, the entire team of developers use the waterfall methodology in building large software projects. However, this approach creates a bottleneck since the testing is placed near the end of the timeline. In case testers find bugs, rework and retesting have to be done, and the remaining time for the project is usually not enough to address all the problems and deliver a working solution. 

The Agile principles resolve the testing issue by “shifting left” the testing phase and involving it in earlier portions of the timeline. This helps the whole Agile team spot issues early on and address them as the project progresses. The idea is for the team to work progressively by building on layers of code that have been tested to work before more features are added to the software.

The shift-left approach is a testing method that eliminates bottlenecks due to testing, effectively reducing the risk of project delays. This strategy aims to create a product with testability in mind. This Agile approach works well in cross-functional teams wherein members have broad skill sets as testers. 

6.Plan the testing and QA processes

Automated testing can greatly improve software development workflows

Fig. 3. Automated testing can greatly improve software development workflows

(Source: Unsplash)

Test processes must be structured, defined, and documented. In a software team, a well-documented documentation system makes for the overall efficiency in process information exchange. Effective planning means creating good and useful evaluation projects based on a clearly defined scope.

End-user tests typically occur at the final stage of software development. Engaging developers to test the product can help identify problems and address them before submission to reduce issue recurrence. 

Using test case management tools can make bug testing and reporting uniform across the several Agile teams. These tools eliminate ambiguity, thus creating bug reports that are easy to track and understand.

Automations and maximizing test coverage can also accelerate testing activities. Consider automated testing to reduce the workload of QA testers and set standards for testing methods. 

7.Build a solid communication process

A good software development workflow means nothing when it’s not combined with effective communication practices. Communication is vital both for internal and external software teams to make sure everyone is on the same page on the goals of the project.

Make sure that the team has a communication medium that allows them to contact members easily, especially if there are urgent tasks that need attention. The tool should feature public and private rooms for flexibility. 

The whole organization should foster transparency and respect so that everyone can be comfortable in speaking their minds, giving suggestions, asking for help, and reporting potential roadblocks in the project. 

When it comes to communication with clients or customers and the development team, establishing a single point of contact can eliminate misunderstanding. This also smoothens the cooperation between the teams, especially when doing remote meetings.

8.Use the right project management tool

A project management software like Zentao gives a better overview of project status

Fig. 4. A project management software like Zentao gives a better overview of project status

(Source: Unsplash)

The general software workflow management looks simple and straightforward, yet has many invisible inefficiencies that cause project f. Inefficiencies in the workplace can cost as much as 20% to 30% of the organization’s annual revenue.

Inefficiencies can be caused by complex workflows, too much emphasis on the team’s process over its productivity, missing the bigger picture, miscommunication, and misalignment of priorities. These can all be solved by using feature-rich and easy-to-use project management software like Zentao.

Zentao is the leading, open-source project management software used by millions of developers worldwide. It has advanced features which can simplify complex processes and centralize the information for increased visibility and transparency. The tools for feedback, routine, sprint, OPS, attendance, document, product, and source code management can all be accessed using the platform.

Striving For Continuous Improvement

There’s no perfect software development workflow. Each one is unique to the organization it serves and has different features for varying purposes. Each also has its strengths and weaknesses that organizations should recognize to make operations more efficient.

Streamlining your own workflow can greatly improve team productivity, eliminate ambiguity, and foster information transparency. There’s always room for improvement, so you must remain flexible and adaptive to make better products in the future.

Having the right project management tool can go a long way for your organization. It centralizes all information for better communication. It can also be used to generate reports to continuously monitor the progress of the project and identify major chokepoints in the project.

Managing projects and multiple teams become much easier and efficient with the use of a project management tool. If you’re looking for a free project planning software open for trial, consider trying out Zentao and see how much it can improve your software development workflow. 

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