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How to boost software development efficiency with Backlog

How-tosSoftware developmentBacklog
Backlog Staff

Backlog Staff

April 15, 2024

Software development teams often struggle with inefficiencies that can derail projects, reduce efficiency, and hinder success. Often, these issues are caused by changing client requests, poorly managed dependencies, or technical roadblocks. 

This issue is further compounded by remote work, which, unless managed right, can make it difficult for teams to collaborate effectively.

For example, imagine your team working on a complex feature for a new software release. You’ve assigned each task to a different developer. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t understand the dependencies between those tasks.

Without proper communication channels or visibility into each other’s progress, these issues go unnoticed until it’s too late.

As the deadline approaches, the team realizes several critical tasks are still incomplete. Developers scramble to integrate their work, leading to last-minute conflicts, bugs, and technical debt that could have been avoided with better transparency and collaboration.

Ultimately, the project misses its deadline, frustrating the client and potentially damaging the team’s reputation and credibility. 

What should have been a smooth development process was derailed by inefficient communication and siloed work. 

The team could have avoided these issues with clear, transparent communication, keeping everyone aligned on the project’s difficulties, changes, and expectations.

In this article, we’ll explore how Backlog can revolutionize your team’s approach to project management, helping you identify and address common bottlenecks while fostering a more streamlined and productive work environment.

What causes inefficiency in software development?

Software development is complex, with numerous moving parts, shifting expectations, and multiple involved stakeholders. It’s no surprise that teams often face inefficiencies that can hinder progress and compromise the project. 

Some of the most common challenges include:

  • Changing requirements and scope creep: Client expectations can change throughout a project. This might involve updated priorities, new requested features, or changes to previous requests due to a lack of clarity. This and unexpected technical obstacles can trigger scope creep, making it difficult to hit task and project deadlines.
  • Lack of clear requirements: When clients are unclear about what they want, their requests will be similarly unclear, making it difficult for developers to understand their tasks or anticipate client needs. Additionally, if the project manager does not clearly communicate task requirements and project dependencies, the resulting ambiguity can cause unnecessary delays for developers.
  • Inefficient code management and review: Managing the code base and conducting efficient reviews can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and prone to human error. This is further complicated when project teams rely on multiple platforms for project management, development, bug tracking, and version control. 
  • Collaboration and communication issues: Many software projects involve multiple teams and stakeholders working simultaneously from geographically disparate locations. Without a transparent and easily accessible system to manage communication and streamline collaboration, tasks can lag, work may be repeated, or teams may make conflicting decisions, resulting in project delays.
  • Inefficient processes and workflows: Inefficient processes can slow down the development cycle. For example, if a project team relies on manually updated spreadsheets to track their progress, dependent tasks may suffer delays as the team waits for updates. Additionally, multiple, incomplete, or conflicting copies of the project spreadsheet can cause confusion, resulting in tasks being completed incorrectly or late.

The consequences of these inefficiencies can be far-reaching, from missed deadlines and increased costs to reduced code quality and customer dissatisfaction.

To address these challenges, teams must first identify areas where inefficiencies lie. Here are a few ways to get started: 

  • Process Mapping: To analyze the efficiency of your current processes, you first need to be clear on what those processes look like. Use a flowchart design tool like Cacoo to map your current processes and workflows. This can identify and alleviate misunderstandings and highlight areas for improvement. 
  • Identifying Workflow Bottlenecks: As your projects progress, note which task types or stages frequently suffer delays. For example, if development tasks typically get hung up in the code review stage, you know to rethink the code review process or adopt a better code review tool. If tasks frequently get delayed at the very beginning, the problem may be the clarity of instruction. 
  • Retrospectives and Feedback: The people who know best where delays happen are the ones experiencing them. As such, collect feedback from your project team and discuss it during regular retrospectives. This process allows the team to compare their areas of difficulty and propose improvements collectively. 

While inefficiency may be a common problem among all software development teams, its cause hinges on your project team’s work style, the tools you use, your project management style, and the nature of your projects. The best way to resolve it is by involving your team in diagnosing the problems and implementing flexible, scalable solutions like Backlog.

Improve team productivity with Backlog

Backlog was created to overcome many common inefficiencies software development and marketing teams face. 

It streamlines task management for superior communication and collaboration, simplifies the version control and code review process, and makes it easier for teams to track and analyze the group’s progress.

Stay in communication with issue-tracking

Issue tracking is a system used by project teams to manage and organize the tasks that need to be done throughout a project’s lifecycle. 

Backlog’s robust issue-tracking capabilities eliminate the chaos of disorganized task management by providing a centralized platform for tracking and prioritizing work items.

Here’s how. 

First, the Project Board enables any project member to see where each issue sits on the project timeline. Using a Kanban board layout, each task is organized by status for a simple, streamlined workflow. 

To track an individual task, click the card to open it, then select watch

Now, whenever new information is added or the task status changes, you’ll be notified. 

This page also includes helpful information about the task, including its start and due date, assignee, milestone or version, related subtasks, and more. 

Project managers can also create custom task types and statuses for even more detailed issue tracking or build custom workflows. 

Add new issue types or statuses or rearrange existing ones under Project Settings

Streamline code reviews and version control

Version control is an essential part of software development, but it is also prone to inefficiency. Often, the bigger and more complex your code base, the more complex the processes become. 

Backlog integrates version control and code review tools directly into the project management platform, so teams no longer need to juggle multiple tools. 

With built-in Git repository hosting and code review tools, teams can seamlessly collaborate on code, track changes, and maintain code integrity. 

This way, developers can create, modify, and check their work without leaving the Backlog platform.

Enable Git by going to Project Settings > Git and selecting Enable Git on this project.

But what if your development team prefers Subversion? Backlog has that, too.

To enable Subversion, go to the Subversion tab under Project Settings and select Create a repository on Backlog.

Whichever system you prefer, integrating version control and code review into the team’s day-to-day project management reduces the risk of errors and conflicts, facilitates knowledge sharing, and ensures that the team always uses the most up-to-date version of the code. As a result, your team’s productivity goes up.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure whether Git or SVN is right for your team, check out this guide

Avoid duplicative work with Backlog

Duplicate work can drain team resources and hinder progress. Fortunately, Backlog’s collaborative features and integrations with other tools can help teams avoid redundant efforts and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.

Avoid redundant work with task management

Backlog streamlines project management by facilitating clear communication and task delegation. 

With Backlog acting as a centralized platform for project management, team members can easily see what tasks are assigned to whom, reducing the likelihood of duplicated efforts.

On the Issues page, team members can get a quick overview of each task–for example, whether one team member is working on fixing a new bug or another is developing an upcoming feature—and the task’s overall status. 

How does this make work more efficient? 

Imagine you’re working on a new feature and have just encountered a complication that impacts several other areas of your new app. Before fixing it, you can check the Issues page to ensure nobody else is already working on it. 

If the issue impacts other tasks, you can quickly alert the relevant people by commenting on their tasks or tagging them yourself.

Collaborate more effectively with in-app communication

Backlog’s built-in collaboration tools further reduce the risk of duplicative work by enabling teams to:

  • Work together on complex tasks
  • Share resources
  • Easily update teammates

Let’s explore. 

If tasks are too complex for one person, have a short turnaround time, or require multiple hands, distribute the work more effectively with subtasking

To enable this feature, Project Administrators can select Enable subtasking under Project Settings. 

Once this is enabled, break any issue into subtasks by selecting add child issue from the issue page. 

Each subtask can be assigned to a different person and tracked individually, allowing each contributor to work in parallel. 

This feature also allows project managers to track task progress in greater detail. 

Next, collaborators can ask questions, share updates, and more using issue comments

Just open the relevant issue or subtask, scroll down to the comments section, and start typing in the comment field to share your update. Using the comments, you can: 

  • Update task status to alert the project team to your progress
  • Attach or link files to share critical resources and references
  • Tag other team members to alert them to important information

By keeping your task communication in the same place as your project management and assets, you’ll ensure the team can access the information they need at any time and collaborate more smoothly.

Streamline workflows with Backlog integrations

Backlog integrates seamlessly with a wide range of tools commonly used in software development, including: 

For more details, visit the Backlog API Integrations page. 

Standardize processes across the organization

Consistency is key to maintaining efficiency and productivity. With Backlog, you can establish and manage custom workflows across different teams and projects. This level of customization enables teams to define and follow their preferred processes, ensuring maximum productivity.

Note: Only Project Administrators can create a custom workflow in Backlog.

To create a custom workflow in Backlog, access the Status menu in Project Settings and click Add Status

First, add a descriptive name (such as “Testing” or “Code Review”). Then, assign the new status a distinct color to set it apart visually. Finally, click Add Status to complete the process. 

Next, rearrange your statuses into your preferred workflow order using the 𝌆 icon. 

Your updated workflow will be visible on the Project Board so the team can easily see and understand it. 

To foster workflow consistency, ensure your team fully understands the updated processes by providing easy-to-understand references. 

For example, you could describe your new workflow in the Project Wiki and include illustrative flow charts created in Cacoo. 

Business Process Diagram

With clear, organized issue statuses and clear documentation, you will make it easy for your team to adhere to a standardized process, minimizing delays.

How Backlog helps Reesink Logistic Solutions manage tight schedules

Reesink Logistic Solutions is one of the largest machinery and components distributors in Europe. Due to their fast growth, they needed a scalable tool to handle their daily workflow, manage projects, and help the team hit tight deadlines. And it needed to be easy to use.

Introducing Backlog enabled the team to bring all their projects into one place, accessible to the whole organization. And because all that data was centralized, they could easily standardize project management, manage stakeholders, and identify and track issues. 

Now, every task being worked on is associated with a Backlog issue

Using issue comments to ask questions and share pertinent information with transparency.

And if off-platform communication does need to happen, they link back to the Backlog issue page, where all the most important data is stored. This enables Reesink to share consistent information and increase transparency.

If a task becomes complicated–for example, an unexpected technical problem or a new request–the team creates child issues or subtasks to share that update with everyone for full transparency and accurate progress tracking.

Additionally, since Backlog is accessible to everybody, Reesink uses Backlog’s File Upload feature as its primary storage for critical assets. These files are linked directly to relevant issues, improving transparency.

As a result, Reesink Logistic Solutions has improved communication among their project teams, reduced time spent in meetings, and improved task and deadline management.

Measure software development productivity and manage resources

Implementing Backlog is just the first step in boosting team efficiency. For continued success, teams must continuously monitor progress and improve their processes.

Backlog’s Gantt chart is ideal for analyzing task dependencies, managing resources, and spotting and resolving delays. To use this feature, enable it in Project Settings. 

If you’ve never used one, a Gantt chart is a project planning tool that shows each task along a timeline, making it ideal for analyzing workloads, dependencies, and delays. 

To make the best use of your project’s Gantt chart, make sure each issue includes: 

  • A start date
  • And end date
  • A milestone

With this information, you’ll be able to see more accurately how much time each task and subtask will take, where each one overlaps, and how delays might impact your key milestones.

For a bird’s eye view of your project’s progress, check the Burndown chart. Find it on your Project Dashboard

Burndown charts are line graphs illustrating project progress in three ways: 

  • Your ideal timeline: the diagonal line from project start to completion
  • Your planned timeline incorporating each task’s start date and deadline
  • Your actual timeline, which includes real-time results, delays, and outstanding tasks

This chart helps you to evaluate the likelihood of hitting a project deadline.

Finally, ensure your team’s workflows are as efficient as possible with regular retrospectives. A retrospective is a meeting where a project team reviews the project’s progress, identifies problems, and proposes fixes. 

By holding regular retrospective meetings, you can enable your team to take ownership of their productivity and use collective ideation to find more efficient solutions. 

Foster efficient software development practices with Backlog

Delays are inevitable, but with effective planning, aided by a flexible project management solution like Backlog, project teams can build more efficient processes and streamline communication and collaboration, setting themselves up for success. 

Backlog’s robust issue tracking, commenting, subtasking, and task management features enable teams to better understand project timelines, keep one another updated, and work together. 

With file sharing, on-platform version control, and code reviews, all of your team’s work will be housed in one place, reducing delays and ensuring that everyone has access to what they need. 

With Nulab’s library of API integrations, Backlog works seamlessly with your team’s current favorite tools.To learn more about how Backlog could make your project flow more efficient, try Backlog for free today.



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