Problem Reports

The responsibility of a project’s outcome is shared between developers and managers. Developers depend on managers to effectively manage projects, and managers depend on developers to provide reports that serve as the basis of project management decisions.

Possibly due to insufficient transparency, a problem may be detected after attempting to use a fully implemented and unit-tested software component. The integration phase of a software life cycle is a common, but undesirable, phase to detect interface issues. The problem, found during the integration phase, potentially reopens tasks that were considered complete. Design documentation might need to be updated, software might need to be re-implemented, and software might need to be retested. This increases the difficulty of meeting a project schedule, which may already be tested during integration.

The person that detects the problem has the responsibility to make the problem known. Resolving the issue among developers of the affected modules may be possible, but in general, resolution will involve too many people and too many tasks. Utilizing the managerial structure is pragmatic and effective in coordinating a resolution. A line manager or immediate supervisor is an entry point of using the managerial structure, so reporting the problem to that manager is reasonable.

Without a problem report, management is unaware of the problem and unable to manage the project with respect to the problem. Reporting the problem to management is a practice that increases project visibility. Management may decide that the problem shall not be resolved, because of schedule pressure or the severity of the problem. Management may decide that it shall be resolved within the constraints of the project schedule. Management may also decide to resolve the issue and revise the project schedule. Management must make the decision for the project, but the need for a decision must be made visible by developers through problem reports.

Questions, comments, and responses are welcomed. Spam is really not.

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