Bugs before features? How we prioritize software development at Studo

How does the Studo development team decide which feature to develop next? What role do "bugs" play in this prioritization process? In this blog post, we want to give a little insight into how our development team works and prioritizes.


from Isabella Zick

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What do we want to develop next? If you take a look at Studo's backlog, you'll see: There are countless ideas for new features. Students and universities provide us with inspiration every day. But although we develop at full speed in our offices, we can't do everything at once - and that wouldn't make sense in many cases. After all, features in an app often build on one another, require more time resources or are implemented in cooperation with partners. Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the maintenance of the Studo App. The smooth operation of the app and fixing bugs always have the highest priority for us.

So how does the development team decide what to develop next? This happens every two weeks in the middle of an app sprint - during the so-called backlog grooming. The following six criteria are used to prioritize development projects:

1. Bugs before features

Quality, consistency, security - these core values are most important to us when it comes to the development of the Studo App. This means that maintenance and fixing bugs will always be prioritized. After all, the Studo app must always run smoothly and meet the latest standards in terms of security and quality. Our development team has these expectations of their app, but students and universities also have these demands.

The "bugs before features" principle is particularly important at the start of a new academic year. During the start of the semester, the Studo App has an exceptionally high number of requests and must therefore be able to withstand a large load on the server. During this special time, fewer features are developed and the developers concentrate on ensuring that the app runs like clockwork.

2. Mission, vision and values

Our core values play a big role in everything we do. The same goes for our mission to be a "constant supporter of students and universities". Feature ideas or requests that do not meet these values or do not fit with our mission and long-term vision will therefore be rejected or not prioritized.

3. What problem should be solved?

"Tell me WHAT problem should be solved, not HOW" - this guiding principle of CTO Valentin Slawicek has become engraved in the minds of all staff members. What does that mean? In software development, it's about presenting concrete problems and describing WHAT exactly needs to be solved. HOW the problem is solved is left to the development team. This is because there are often already existing features and structures on which an idea can be built. In addition, the complexity of a problem and the effort required to solve it can best be estimated by the developers.

4. Technical implementation and resources

Of course, with any new development there is also the question of how much time and how many people are needed. If the developers have to build up competences in a new area for a project or if new people have to be hired, this also affects the prioritisation of the project.

5. Impact of the project

How important is this feature now and in the future? Strategic decisions also have to be made again and again in software development. Therefore, the (long-term) impact of a development project is also an important criteria for setting priorities. High-impact developments were, for example, the expansion of our server structures to guarantee sustainable growth of the app and to support more users

6. Who can use this feature?

Studo supports students at more than 400 universities and is compatible with over 140 campus management systems. Our app is a standardised solution for all users, but adapted to the individual services of the universities. This standardisation is an important factor in prioritisation: a feature that can be used by all or a very large number of students is therefore rated higher than a completely individual development for a small group of users.

Based on these criteria, the development team decides at every backlog grooming which features will be included in the sprint and what will be worked on in the following two weeks. You can read more about the technical details of the Studo App here.

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