What Is a Software Development Backlog Workflow?

Software Development Backlog Workflow

Imagine that you’re about to drive across the country for a business trip. You pull out your map — or your GPS — and start planning your route. You have a choice of taking the highways, which are a more direct path from one side of the country to the other or passing through countless country roads and detours. Which path do you take? That’s a question you need to ask yourself when planning out your software development backlog workflow.

The software development backlog is the ultimate to-do list for a development team. It is filled with tasks requested by stakeholders from various projects, external clients, and entire teams. In the best of times, this workflow is like a highway, with everyone smoothly going in the same direction. But if you don’t take the time to plan out your workflow, you can expect quite a few detours along the way.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • The definition of the software development backlog workflow
  • Common friction points of this workflow
  • How Unito eliminates these friction points
  • A  software development backlog workflow powered by Unito

Defining a software development backlog workflow

So what’s a software development backlog workflow? It’s the path a request has to follow from its origin point — the requester — until it is ultimately worked on. Also included in this workflow are the communications and meetings that take place between developers, requesters, and stakeholders. Everything that needs to happen before developers start working on a request is represented by a step in this workflow.

Friction points of the software development backlog workflow

Constant requests for updates

One of the key characteristics of this workflow is that the requesters and the developers working on those requests often live in different tools. Coordinating the work of a development team is very different from managing a sales team, and few tools are able to handle such a variety of work.

Because of this, requesters have little to no visibility on their requests once they land in the backlog. That means they can’t see updates in real-time, and they need to send emails and messages to the development team to get the status of their request. Unless the development team has a dedicated person handling these requests, developers are being constantly pulled out of their work to answer emails and chat messages. This can make working on backlog tasks slow and frustrating.

Poor organization

While a backlog usually lives in a single work management tool, development requests can come from a myriad of sources: other tools, emails, informal requests, and more. That means that when they do eventually end up in the backlog, no two requests will look the same. Some will be added directly by developers from scratch while others will be copy-and-pasted from emails and chat messages. With no automated way of organizing and triaging requests, your backlog can quickly become a mess. And it might stay that way unless something is done.

Duplicate requests

Because there’s no single source of truth for development requests, it’s all too easy for the same request to come in from two different sources. Maybe they’re from different requesters or even the same requester who thinks the first request didn’t get through. This all contributes to a cluttered backlog and having to constantly double-check requests for duplicates.

Difficult prioritization

Multiple request sources and a difficult triaging process mean that, when it comes time to plan a sprint, leaders have to sift through a cluttered backlog before they can start assigning work. Development teams can use the priority and labeling features of many work management tools to filter some of these requests by priority, but this still sucks up valuable time each day. And often, priorities levels aren’t clear in the request and require back-and-forth messages or emails with the source to clear up.

How Unito eases that friction

A virtual single source of truth

The path to the highway starts here. No matter how many tools your company uses, you can sync all of them to a development backlog. This means requests can be entered in whatever tool the requester is comfortable with, and it will automatically be carried over to the backlog in the development team’s tool. Any comments, descriptions, and attachments are synced as well, meaning developers can get a complete picture with less back-and-forth. 

Automatic organization

One of Unito’s features is the ability to automatically label and filter synced tasks as they come into your tool. That means requests can be automatically labeled as they enter the backlog. Do you want to build a specific flow with a marketing team working in Asana? Set up your sync so their requests are automatically marked as “marketing” and prioritized accordingly. Issues can even be automatically assigned to a specific developer according to their label, automating delegation. Because the sync is doing more work, developers have to do less to organize and triage their backlog.

Self-serve request updates

Syncs are a two-way street. So not only do incoming requests carry every bit of information entered by the requester, but the information entered from the backlog side is also synced over to the requester’s tool. This gives developers the ability to add comments and ask questions from their tool, knowing that the requester will see it. Regular status reports can be added to these requests directly, meaning that requesters can independently get the information they need. This means fewer meetings, emails, and distractions for everyone involved.

A software development backlog workflow with Unito

Now that we’ve identified what this workflow looks like in both its forms, let’s look at an example. Imagine a team of developers working in Jira. They work on the mobile version of a web app. Teams from across the company, like marketing and customer success, work in tools like Trello, Asana, and Hubspot. They each have different development requests relating to the app, which they forward to the development team regularly. How does this workflow happen then?

  1. A development request is made by another team in their tool
  2. The request is automatically synced to the development tool by Unito
  3. Once in the backlog, the task is automatically assigned based on Unito’s filters.
  4. Requesters check progress and ask questions from their tool.
  5. Set up sprints from your backlog, knowing it’s kept up-to-date by Unito

And it’s that simple. No more messy backlogs, no more duplicates, and no more emails asking “how’s my request coming along?” Just developers doing their best work.

Ready for your dream workflow?

With Unito,  you can streamline your workflows, no matter how many tools your teams are using. By connecting your work management tools, you give everyone the ability to collaborate, no matter their work environment.

In the case of a development backlog, that means you don’t have to force people into specific channels to properly triage their requests. Just give them the ability to do it from the place where they’re most comfortable.

What’s next?

1. Ready to start? Try Unito free for 14 days!
2. See the power of Unito in action.
3. Want to read more about optimizing your workflow? Do that here!