The following is the first of a five part series excerpted from our whitepaper Top Four Frustrations of Software Engineers.
Anyone who works closely with software engineers understands it takes a big brain to do what they do, even if it’s never really understood exactly what they do or how they do it. But just because you spend the bulk of your time in an obscure world of ones and zeroes, it doesn’t mean you don’t love being empowered to discover uniquely creative ways of solving complex problems.
You simply want a firm grasp on the problems you’re tasked with solving and to be allowed to solve them your way.
But when your team is mired in a poor product delivery system, you and your team likely spend too much of your limited bandwidth deciphering unclear requirements or seeking further explanation of insufficiently described problem statements.
In today’s increasingly complex product delivery workflows, smoothly handing-off work from one life cycle stage to the next requires clear cross-team communication. But handoff difficulties too often become bottlenecks that stall your productivity, especially within delivery environments where teams are siloed and communication lacks efficiency and transparency.
You need complete visibility into the requirements document as it shifts and into every phase of the product roadmap, as well as real-time insight into the related activities of all delivery team members. When that’s the reality, you become a creative problem solver, empowered not only to develop innovative solutions to the challenges your product’s tasked with overcoming, but also to feel passionate about your work while doing it.
Although the challenges mentioned thus far relate specifically to just a few of the many tasks typically required of a software engineer, together they speak in broader terms about a fundamentally flawed product delivery system.
Fixing it requires an entirely new mode of communication, which demands a comprehensive solution to some of the most common challenges:
A “Task” Mindset With No Context
When problem statements fail to provide a thorough description of what needs to be solved, you become a taskmaster. All too often, you’re “tasked” with a specific request, such as “Change this drop-down menu to a list with radio buttons.” Of course, you can handle that, but why are you being asked to do so? What’s the larger problem? By providing the proper context, such as “The drop-down menu makes the user experience too cumbersome,” you’re enabled to creatively address the bigger picture instead of simply completing a task that’s really just a Band- Aid. To address the challenge, you need complete visibility into what is being built from Day One.
Poorly defined requirements lead to incomplete solutions—a situation that results in unnecessarily reworking the same requirements, definitely not the best use of your time and talent. What you need is a proactive, inclusive system of collaboration that lets you weigh in on the requirements early in the product delivery life cycle.
Today it’s very rare for a development team to work on a greenfield project. Given the reality that virtually every new software release must be developed to operate harmoniously with legacy code, you’re routinely presented with unique challenges—which become major process hindrances when you lack sufficiently supportive documentation. The solution hinges on having access to a central information repository that provides comprehensive insight into what has been documented and decided upon.
Shifting To An “Embrace Change” Mentality
Why do defects continue to be added to the backlog every time a test fails? Because when you’re focused on immediate tasks, with deadlines looming, issues that should be addressed as part of the current iteration get bumped down the priority list. Or requirements change and you (and other engineers whose work is impacted) aren’t made aware. Fixing the situation means implementing a system that not only ensures you’re informed when requirements change, but that also tracks cross-project relationships and displays how new information impacts the entire product team.
Read the second part of the series, Top Frustrations of Software Engineers: Task Mentality.
Download the full whitepaper, Top Four Frustrations of Software Engineers & Tips to Avoid Them
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