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Common Pitfalls To Avoid While Managing Multiple Product Lines

by Sanjay Zalavadia, - VP Client Services, Zephyr December-2018

Organizations grow and evolve over time, so it's reasonable to assume that their products and services will follow suit. However, as these changes happen, it can become significantly more difficult to manage all of their assets effectively and ensure that they're delivering the best value to their customers. For software development teams, in particular, it's becoming more common to have a number of projects active at once, but handling all of these can be a challenge. Let's take a look at some common pitfalls that teams should avoid when managing multiple product lines:

1. Inadequate scheduling

Planning out your timelines for your projects will be essential to finishing them when expected and accounting for any unforeseen circumstances. However, with software development projects, this can be tricky to accomplish. Kissmetrics noted that everything must be mapped out to the last detail. That means determining dates, times, tasks, functions and roles that will be specific to a project. Without this level of specificity, it will be much harder to gauge progress and ensure that everything is being capably managed.

To avoid this pitfall, teams can utilize test case management software and other project management assets. With these tools, groups will be able to easily assign tasks and test scripts to particular projects and monitor everything at once. This type of single-pane platform also encourages collaboration and keeps everyone on the same page with real-time updates and results from test executions. Having quick feedback will help fix defects faster and produce better quality across the multiple product lines.

2. Changing scope

Agile project teams must be ready for adjustments to requirements, but if major changes are required or if alterations are needed on a frequent basis, this can create significant backups in the workflow across projects. Goals for each project must be clear from the on-set and any additions must be cleared and handled properly. CIO noted that if expectations constantly change, this can lead to additional costs and unexpected delays.

To handle this pitfall, teams will need to conduct regular checkups to ensure that they are on track. This will help keep within the established scope and prevent the project from deviating from the original intention. Groups should track change requests and estimate how it will impact the schedule. Getting approval for each adjustment will help rein in the number of demands that come in as well as help teams come up with a specific roadmap for carrying out each modification. Teams shouldn't feel that they need to make every change that comes across their desk, but they should be open to suggestions if it will improve the project or add value.

"It's good at various intervals to step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve your future work based on what's already changed along the way," Blackbaud project manager Carol Woolfe told CIO.

3. Going lone wolf

The worst thing that you could do is to try to manage everything yourself. QA management in the age of agile development emphasizes and broader, more collaborative effort. Developers and testers are no longer siloed off from each other, and they aren't expected to complete work on their own. It can be easy to delve back into traditional processes of creating code to throw over the wall, but this can hurt productivity and impact overall quality.

With multiple product lines in a play, it's essential for teams to come together to deliver the best services possible. Wrike noted that it's important for managers to delegate responsibilities and to provide autonomy for self-government. This allows teams to make the best decisions for their situation without going through all the red tape. Time will be saved by enabling groups to be more empowered and work as a cohesive unit. Managers can use tools to monitor that tasks are being completed effectively and efficiently.

Businesses undergo a number of transformations and their products evolve to better serve customers. There are a number of pitfalls that teams can fall into, but by better understanding these dangers, it will be much easier to avoid them.