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PMP Q #24- Stop the Accumulation of Minor Defects

Q24. An agile team is making good progress on key requirements, but defects in deliverables are accumulating in the backlog. Most of the defects are minor and take half a day to fix. Which approach would be most effective in stopping the accumulation of minor defects?

A. Reserve some capacity in the iteration for defect fixing.
B. Add Special Product Backlog Item to fix these defects.
C. Integrate the fixing of defects in the Definition of Done.
D. Start estimating the defects in Story Points.

All these four options have some value and can probably help us reduce defects, but here we are looking for the option that can help minimise defects’ accumulation. Let’s explore which option is most effective in stopping the accumulation of defects – 

 Option A – “Reserve Some capacity in the iteration for defect fixing” – Reserving some capacity might be a good idea for already accumulated defects. If the team has discovered some defects, they may fix them rather than just work on the new requirements. Fixing defects takes some percentage of iteration capacity. This option may reduce the number of defects, but accumulation may still happen. Since the team is fixing, overall absolute accumulation may start reducing, hence is a good option.

Option B – Add Special product backlog items to fix these defects” –  You may add one or multiple items to the product backlog to focus on fixing defects. It shows that you have an accumulation of defects and can add them to the backlog, which may make them visible. At some point, you can fix it, but adding things to the backlog may continue the accumulation of it. It may make things visible and start giving a good focus on the conversation, but it does not necessarily take care of the incremental accumulation of defects.  

Option C – “Integrate the fixing of defects in Definition of Done” – What does it mean? Knowing when a product backlog item can be marked Done is a shared understanding between team members and stakeholders. The team defines a Definition of Done for this shared understanding: A checklist of items that each product backlog item must comply with before it is considered complete. So if the team includes something in the Definition of Done, every product backlog item must comply with it mandatory to mark it as complete.

If the team includes fixing the defects in the Definition of Done, they can only mark a specific item as Done once defects related to that item are also completed. So, you won’t be able to say a feature is complete if it has some minor defects. Hence, you better fix them then and there; that’s a preferred approach. Most of you must have faced this experience that fixing an issue when it is fresh is easy. But if these issues start accumulating and one issue may start getting related to the other issue, then resolving them may become more and more challenging—usually, the time to take fixing increases if you keep delaying that fixing. 

So, fixing defects before marking a particular item complete creates the proper sense of completeness for items. This option looks helpful in stopping the accumulation of defects. Let’s see what the last option is.

Option D – “Start estimating the defects in story points” –  Estimation of defects and showing and quantifying those defects as problems is a good idea. Of course, that makes people more aware, but awareness may lead to some action items. Still, more than just awareness is needed to stop the new defects’ accumulation directly. 

So option C is the best option. You need to improve the Definition of Done, which should include fixing the minor defects in this question.

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