Don't stack up Code Reviews!
How to Avoid Second Backlog Trap
Pull-Requests, Code-Reviews, and the Second Backlog. A Developer's Quandary. If you're in software development, the term "backlog" is undoubtedly part of your daily vocabulary. Regardless of your team's methodology—Agile, Scrum, or anything in between—you'll have a designated space where upcoming tasks accumulate like leaves in the fall.
No, they're parked—almost in a state of limbo—waiting not for final approval but for the first review even to take place.
But let's talk about that other backlog, often referred to as the "Review Column" or the "Review Backlog." This lurking presence in your workflow, acting as a bottleneck, impedes progress more than it aids it. Here, tasks aren't merely waiting in line for their turn to be tackled. No, they're parked—almost in a state of limbo—waiting not for final approval but for the first review even to take place.
It's like a traffic jam where you can see the open highway ahead, but something is causing a holdup, and that something is the Review Column. The irony? This backlog, designed to uphold quality through reviews, can often deteriorate the quality it aims to preserve.
Some context: it’s not about every company.
To offer some added context, I want to say that this issue doesn't plague every company. My focus is on the peculiar challenges faced by Small-to-Medium-sized organizations. Multiple teams often collaborate on a single product in such settings.
Still, unlike larger corporations or those bound by stringent external requirements, these teams operate within a more flexible internal development flow. This nuance significantly impacts how backlogs and review processes manifest their pros and cons within the organization.
The Problem - What I am concerned of
“issue is that value, which could have been delivered to the customer or stakeholder, remains stuck in the development pipeline”
Hitting Quality is essential, and a sense of quality improvement and assurance should be fostered. But is an asynchronous backlog the right place for that? 🤔
I experienced that a review bottleneck in front of the finish line leads to a false sense of security. It becomes more of a team-wide problem when the second backlog stacks up.
Tickets Lag Behind the Schedule
When tickets start falling behind, it isn't just a matter of missed deadlines. The real issue is that value, which could have been delivered to the customer or stakeholder, remains stuck in the development pipeline. This delayed delivery often has a ripple effect, affecting dependent tasks and overall project timelines.
Stakeholders begin to grow uneasy when noticeable delays or a lack of progress occur. This nervousness can manifest in increased scrutiny, more frequent check-ins, and escalating demands for updates. The team starts to feel the pressure, which can be counterproductive, adding stress without aiding progress.
Misaligned Reviewers and Requesters
One subtler issue is the loss of context between the people requesting the work (often product managers or stakeholders) and those reviewing the work (usually senior developers or peers). This misalignment can lead to inefficient reviews, misunderstood priorities, and a loss of context that hinders effective decision-making.
Rising Pressure to Deliver
“This often results in a 'just get it done' mindset.”
When the delays become evident, and stakeholders grow anxious, a sense of urgency envelops the team. This often results in a 'just get it done' mindset. While this might seem like a solution to expedite tasks, it often compromises quality and may lead to cutting corners, which can be detrimental in the long term.
Each of these issues is not just a standalone problem but a symptom of systemic inefficiencies or misalignments that must be addressed for a smoother, more effective workflow.
Of course, only some aspects. However, they are adverse regarding business and flow at the same time. Which can and often will result in: