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Project Management Hack: Use Mistakes to Boost Teamwork

Project Management Hack: Use Mistakes to Boost Teamwork

Dean Hanson

Software Projects can be tricky to manage. When delays creep in, factions form. Fingers point and relationships break down. When things get hostile, defects become a project battleground. But strategic managers use defect management as an opportunity to boost teamwork on projects.

I’ve been involved in software projects for the past 20 years. In that time, it’s become clear, no project ever goes perfectly. That doesn’t mean it can’t go well.

Defect management is one area that often causes contention. Developers can feel unfairly treated, testers ignored, bottlenecks form and nobody fully understands the defect workflow. In normal situations, these issues seem trivial. However, when a project is under time pressure, it can be disastrous.

Luckily, problems are much easier to deal with before they arise.

In the case of severe defects, early action will resolve the issue quicker. Early action can also boost teamwork and dramatically reduce costs in the long run.

Holding a defect policy session at the start of your project is an easy way to boost teamwork. When perfected, this hack can continue throughout your whole project. Fostering an environment of collaboration rather than finger pointing.

Traditionally, Defects Can Create a Toxic Team Dynamic

Picture the scene. You're in the depths of a project, testing is going full steam ahead and defects are being raised at an alarming rate. Your delivery team are getting twitchy, and people are starting to question their work. No matter what they do, the defects just keep coming.

In a final attempt to stem the flow, the project is paused. The delivery team takes a deeper look and audits the defect data.

Why Are Test Raising So Many Defects?

Within hours, the delivery team start to reject defects. Within a few days, they’ve thrown great swathes of defects back over to testers.  

The responsibility now shifts to testing. Project management is asking difficult questions. Why were there so many false negatives? Do the testers even understand the application?

After days of back-and-forth and finger-pointing, a meeting is called to get to the bottom of things. Within minutes, both the delivery and test teams are at loggerheads.

Accusations are made and threats hang in the air. The whole project has officially become toxic. Trust has completely broken down.

Do Your Teams Understand the Defect Management Process?

Having seen enough, the project manager stops the meeting to ask yet more questions…  

  • Do you all understand the defect workflow?  
  • Do you know why you're being assigned defects?  
  • Is the current defect workflow adequate for a project as complex as this?

After a revelatory discussion, it turns out that nobody fully understands the defect workflow.  

Not only that, but the defect workflow isn't adequate.

Poor Defect Management Can Cause Long and Costly Delays

To get the project back on track, another meeting is held, a new workflow is created. New steps are added, defects can be assigned to additional teams, priorities and criticalities are reassessed, daily triages are scheduled and there's a clear path forward… but at what cost?

  • How much time has been taken out of the project?
  • How many relationships have been damaged?  
  • How has something so trivial had such a significant impact on the project?

Instead, You Can Use Defect Workflows to Boost Teamwork

Rather than waiting for the arguments to start, you need to flip the script. Use the defect workflow as an opportunity to bring your teams together. Addressing the issue early gives you an easy solution to a common problem.

The key is to have a defect workflow policy at the start of your project. Bring together all your various teams in a meeting and get them acquainted with the new process. The size of your project will dictate whether it’s the leads from each team, or every team member.

A Defect Workflow Meeting is A Productive Team-Building Session

Think about it this way… Most projects have initial team-building sessions. They often feel artificial and, frankly, a waste of time. A defect workflow meeting gives you a useful and productive excuse for bringing a team together.

It’s a simple solution, but it gives many benefits:

  • Your teams get to know each other before the pressure is on
  • People feel ‘listened to’ and their input appreciated
  • A chance to understand other team concerns
  • Everyone understands the process before the pressure is on

It sounds too simple. Almost too good to be true... But it works.

How You Can Boost Teamwork with Qualibrate

Holding a defect workflow meeting early on will give you many benefits in the long term. The only fundamental requirement is a test tool that allows defect workflow configuration. Qualibrate provides defect workflow configuration, custom field and layout customizations.  

Qualibrate has a dedicated defect management module. You can even configure defects differently on each project. Users can track all issues raised either by:

  • Raising defects directly on the Defects Module
  • Raising defects from the Manual Testing Engine
  • Raising defects within Automated testing engines.

Users can add and remove defects fields, and modify the defect layout, with a drag-n-drop interface. Your teams can build your defect layouts and workflow together.

Organize a Defect Policy Meeting at The Start of Your Project

It’s such a simple step, but it will prevent numerous issues. Holding a defect workflow session will reap rewards throughout your project.

You can deliver software faster, with less effort, and with less drama.

Watch a demo on how Qualibrate can better boost and streamline your teamwork.

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