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10 ways to improve your software development workflow

How-tosSoftware developmentBacklog
Backlog Staff

Backlog Staff

February 12, 2024

To create the best software, you need workflows that are agile enough to overcome any challenge but stable enough to rely on.

That’s where Backlog comes in. Backlog is a streamlined project management software for tech teams. 

Below, we’ll explore ten ways you can use Backlog to improve your software development workflow.

1. Define and prioritize software development tasks 

Help your software team focus better with descriptive, prioritized tasks. 

It may seem obvious. But any seasoned developer can tell you it’s not always the case. Instead, you might encounter a confusing, poorly updated ticket system. Or worse: a million versions of the same migraine-inducing spreadsheet living in an email thread. 

Save everyone the headache. Clearly lay out all your project tasks in one central location everyone can access. This way, your team can get their bearings and start the highest-impact tasks ASAP. 

How to create projects and tasks in Backlog

With Backlog, your project lives in the cloud, making it easy for your team to access the data they need. 

To create a new project, click the plus + from your dashboard. Then select Add Project in the drop-down and start filling in the data.

Next, lay out your project tasks. In Backlog, tasks are referred to as “issues.” To create one, just go to the project sidebar and click Add Issue. 

Name your task and enter all relevant information in the description field. 

Then, use the drop-down to set your task priority. Teams often prioritize tasks based on the following:

  • Urgency (which tasks need to be completed the most quickly)
  • Complexity (which tasks are the most in-depth)
  • Business value (which will have the biggest payoff)

2. Break tasks down into subtasks for better project planning

With complex projects and tasks, it can be challenging to track progress effectively.

If you haven’t broken the task down, assembling the right cross-functional team might be difficult. Once assigned, teams will have to spend extra time identifying dependencies and dividing the work. 

All of this could result in delays and introduce opportunities for costly mistakes.

By contrast, if you spend a few extra minutes creating subtasks, you can:

  • Assign tasks more easily
  • Make complex tasks less intimidating
  • Have a clearer view of each task’s needs and roadblocks

How to create subtasks in Backlog

You can break tasks down easily in Backlog. 

Go to the issue page and scroll down to the Subtasking section. Click the +  icon to open the drop-down menu. 

Here, you’ll see two options: 

  • Add a new child issue: create a subtask from scratch
  • Add an existing issue: designate an issue you’ve already created as a subtask of this one

With all your subtasks mapped out, you’ll be able to: 

  • Assign each subtask to the relevant team members
  • Establish a task timeline with subtask start and due dates
  • Set dependencies for a clearer workflow
  • Track the task’s progress toward completion in greater detail

As a result, your team will better understand expectations and can get started faster.

3. Use Agile workflows to adapt to changing requirements

Agile is a project management methodology that helps teams adapt to change quickly while still making progress on their core objectives. 

Here’s an example. You just released version 4.0 of your flagship software but received negative customer feedback.

If you use a linear methodology like Waterfall, your customers might need to wait until your next scheduled update to get the fix they need. 

With Agile, you can diagnose the issue and immediately release a fix.

A flexible project management platform like Backlog makes this more accessible, allowing you to customize your workflow for each project.

How to create a custom workflow in Backlog

Structure your Agile workflow in Backlog by creating custom issue statuses

To create a new status label and customize your workflow, head to the status menu under project settings and click Add Status

Next, assign specific team members as project administrators to delegate responsibility. They can assist you in managing your new workflow.

Start by opening the Project Settings menu and clicking Members

Now click Project Administrators and Add to Project Administrator. Select a user from the menu to grant them administrative access to your project.

4. Maintain consistent quality with code reviews

Code reviewing is a quality control process that aims to catch errors before a product is released. In non-software development settings, similar processes might be called “peer review” or “quality assurance.”

After you finish a set of code, a team of reviewers looks it over to find potential problems. Then, they leave comments to highlight bugs and suggest fixes.

Here’s how it works in Backlog.

How to conduct code reviews in Backlog with Git

You can manage your entire code review process in Backlog by enabling Git for your project.

Git is a version control system that can help you: 

  • See all previous versions of your source code
  • Collaborate on code as a team
  • Track who made which changes

If you didn’t enable Git when creating your project, you can do so anytime in Project Settings. Once enabled, you can access Git via the project sidebar menu. 

Git stores all the code being worked on for your project (including all proposed changes) in a repository. Whenever you change the source code, you create a new “branch,” isolating those changes until they are reviewed, approved, and merged.

Once you’re ready for your code to be reviewed, make a pull request. This lets the reviewer know it’s time to get involved. 

To complete a review, open the pull request you’re tagged for and go to the Files tab. Here, you can see all the relevant code.

See a potential bug? Hover over the affected code until a comment icon appears. Then, enter your feedback into the comment window.

Once you have finished your review, if the developer has to make changes, they can close the pull request and get back to work. 

Otherwise, if the code is ready to be finalized, click “Merge” to make it official.

Learn more about how to use Git in our Git Tutorial.

5. Use version control to track and manage changes to your codebase

Version control is a system that records changes made to a file. 

It can help you: 

  • Collaborate: everybody can see the most up-to-date set of code, even if they’re working asynchronously
  • Diagnose problems: compare the current version to previous iterations, and even revert changes if necessary

Picture this. You and a colleague are working on a task. They make changes to the code, and you overwrite some of those changes without realizing it, causing a bug.

Now, you need to spend extra time reviewing the code line-by-line to find the issue and uncover how it happened. Without version control, this can be a monumental undertaking.

How to use version control in Backlog

Backlog has two version control tools: Git and Subversion. We looked at Git in the previous section, so let’s explore Subversion now. 

Subversion stores your code files in a repository everyone on the project team can access. To enable it, open the project settings, click Subversion, and select Create a repository on Backlog

From now on, when you open Subversion, you’ll see a file explorer housing all your code files and the last ten commits made in the project. 

To view, compare, and revert code versions, use the file explorer to find the file page. Then click histories.

Learn more about enabling and managing Subversion here.

6. Collaborate more easily with diagrams and flowcharts

Help your development team work together more seamlessly with visual references like diagrams and flowcharts.

For example, let’s say you’ve established a new project workflow with added testing and code review steps. A flowchart can help teams understand the whole process at a glance. 

With Cacoo, you and your team can collaborate on diagrams and flowcharts and integrate them with your Backlog projects.

How to create charts and diagrams with Cacoo

Cacoo is a visualization tool to help you create flow charts, diagrams, mind maps, wireframes, and more. 

To start from a blank canvas, click Create diagram in the left sidebar. 

To start from a pre-designed template, open the Cacoo Template Library

Add your completed diagram to Backlog by clicking the Share button in Cacoo and copying the diagram sharing link. Then, paste the link into your Backlog task. It’s that simple!

Learn more about creating with Cacoo in the Nulab Help Center.

7. Communicate more efficiently with messaging integrations

Picture this. In a private conversation, a colleague flags a crucial piece of feedback that has big implications for your whole team. So you hit reply-all on your team’s email chain to let them know, and then log off. 

What’s the likelihood that your team will incorporate the feedback in time?

The odds aren’t great if that email gets buried in unrelated replies. 

Reliable project management software keeps users connected in real time with features like chat, commenting, and push notifications. 

How to stay connected with Backlog notifications and chat integrations 

Get automatic notifications on Backlog and never miss an update again. 

First, Backlog’s in-app notifications alert users to new activity on the projects or issues they’re associated with. 

If you need to notify somebody else, tag them in a comment or select them via the notify function when creating an issue or comment.

And if you’re an email lover, Backlog can send updates directly to your inbox. To enable email updates, update your personal settings to enable notifications and reports.

Once activated, you can personalize your email notifications: 

  • By mention: Choose to receive only updates you’re tagged in
  • By project: Custom notification preferences for each project
  • By update type: Choose whether you want to receive all update types or only specific ones (comments, wiki updates, Git or Subversion updates, and project reports)

Learn more about customizing email notifications here

But what if an update comes in while you’re not looking at Backlog or your email? No problem. With Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, and Slack integrations, you can send and receive updates through your preferred communication app. 

8. Track and resolve issues with issue tracking

Whether you’re doing a code review, collecting feedback during beta testing, or doing regular product maintenance, you will find issues that need fixing. 

Types of issues include: 

  • Errors: Any mistakes made during the coding process, including bugs and defects
  • Bugs: Errors caught during the QA or testing phase
  • Defects: Mismatch between the expected and actual behavior software in production (often caught by customers) 

These can significantly impact your product’s success, delaying timelines and disappointing your users. But Backlog’s in-depth issue tracking can help you avoid it.

How to track and resolve issues in Backlog

In a perfect world, customers would never find bugs or defects. But that’s not often the case. So when one of your users reports a problem, you’ll want to resolve it quickly. 

The Add Issues via Email integration, which you can find in the Integrations menu, can significantly streamline this process. 

Learn how to configure the tool here.

Whenever you get feedback, forward it to this address, and the feedback will be added to the board as a new issue. 

From here, your dev team can review and address it.

Learn more about streamlining your issue and bug tracking in this Nulab Learn article.

9. Monitor and measure progress

Progress monitoring helps you plan ahead, manage resources, and overcome unexpected problems. 

For example, if your project tasks consistently get stuck in the code review stage, you can solve this by reallocating some resources for review. 

How to monitor progress in Backlog

Backlog makes it easy to measure your project’s progress at a glance with its Kanban board and Gantt chart features. 

What’s the difference between Kanban and Gantt? 

Kanban is a card-based task management system. On a kanban board, each task gets its own card. These are then grouped by status, using categories like “not yet started,” “in progress,” and “complete.” 

Kanban is handy for visualizing the volume of work your team has and their overall progress.

A Gantt Chart is a graphical timeline to show how much expected time each task takes and your team’s overall progress. Each task is plotted along the graph according to its expected completion time.

Gantt is a great system for analyzing task duration across an entire project and keeping track of dependencies. To enable it, go to your Project Settings and click Enable Charts under General. 

10. Leverage feedback and retrospectives to learn and improve

Regular, quality feedback helps you improve your project flow, increase efficiency, and boost the overall quality of your work. 

You can collect it in three places: 

Backlog can help you collect and organize that feedback, making it more actionable for your team. 

Maximizing feedback loops in Backlog

It’s easy to have a conversation about feedback. But are you transforming that feedback into action?

Let’s say you hold a monthly team retrospective. In this meeting, you all reflect on your processes, wins, and opportunities. But what happens next? If your answer is “nothing,” you’re leaving a big opportunity on the table. 

Here’s how Backlog can help you do it better. 

First, create a task for your team retrospective and assign it to the person facilitating the meeting. This task should contain: 

  • When it is, where it is, and how to access it
  • Background info, such as important issues or follow-up items from the last meeting
  • The meeting format and preparatory materials. 

Have the facilitator create a short form reflecting the meeting format to help team members organize their thoughts. It can be as simple as: 

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What can we change?

Then, upload or link the file to the task so everyone can easily access it.

Next, during the meeting, have the team agree on action items. Then, create subtasks for each action item and assign them to a team member. 

For example, the team wants to improve your daily stand-up meetings. So, you create a subtask to establish a stand-up checklist template to use going forward.

Transforming all your feedback into actionable subtasks makes the process more transparent and helps ensure you follow through and implement the best ideas.

Build a better software development workflow with Nulab

Software development is constantly evolving. If dev teams want to win, they have to stay agile.

To do that, you need project management software smart enough (and flexible enough) to keep up. 

With Backlog and Cacoo, you can: 

  • Create custom workflows to stay efficient
  • Equip your team with engaging diagrams and flowcharts
  • Build out in-depth issues and subtasks to stay focused
  • Manage internal and external feedback without missing a beat
  • Ensure instant communication and collaboration wherever you are

And that’s just the beginning.

See for yourself. Try Backlog for free now.



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