10+ tips on how to effectively describe tasks for your dev team (2023)

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10+ tips on how to effectively describe tasks for your dev team (2)
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by RubyOnRails Developers @ Selleo

The implementation of every new feature or change (hopefully) begins with reading some sort of specification, expectations description, investigating mockups, research etc. If the quality of this step is poor, the tasks delivered might not fulfill the product owner’s expectations and/or may be delivered later rather than sooner. On the other hand, if appropriate measures are taken to provide high quality task descriptions, such tasks will most likely be handled efficiently, accurately and on time. It is crucial for a coder to understand both the problem/domain and the product owner’s expectations to effectively proceed with development.

How much attention a developer pays to investigating those expectations and how much time they spends on research is up to each individual, however, as a Product Owners, you can have a huge impact on the quality of requirements specification and how the latter are managed. The list below may not be complete or it may not fully fit each and every development environment, yet it can act as a strong starting point for building your own set of practices.

New features are what every product owner loves the most. How to manage the requirements for those to be delivered effectively? The following tips should help:

  1. Keep all the updated requirements in one place. There is hardly anything more frustrating than having to look for current requirements in tens of comments under the actual description or having to decide which commenter is actually authorized to change the requirements. The goal here is to keep all the up-to-date requirements and details in the main/primary description of a task. Even though the information in comments may affect initial criteria, just update this primary description accordingly.
  2. Consider creating an acceptance criteria list. Descriptive requirements are very helpful when it comes to understanding the context of a problem, yet finally it is good to precisely specify what is expected. Thus the developer will not have to look for the actual requirements in a long, descriptive text but he will be able to easily get to the essence. One might find that sometimes — when acceptance criteria are well defined — there is little or no need for any additional information. Example:
    a) User navigates to “/accounts” and clicks on red download CSV button
    b) Popup appears with two buttons: “This year” and “Last year”
    c) If user clicked on “Last year” download is initiated
    d) CSV downloaded includes following columns…
  3. Provide mockups. A textual requirements description is essential in most cases, but an image is often worth more than a thousand words. Even a simple mockup can limit misunderstandings by a great factor. There are many apps out there that might be helpful here, like Balsamiq, InVision or Mockingbird, but manipulating screenshots of an existing app also works.
  4. Provide examples, credentials, etc. If the expectation is to process or generate some file — attach an example of such a file. If the goal is to integrate what is being developed with some service, ensure your devs have access to this service and its documentation. This list could go on and on — the bottom line is — if there is something that our developer might make use of, try to foresee it and provide them with (access to) it.
  5. Annotate. The mockup provided can sometimes be confusing for developers. Especially if it contains much more content than the scope of the task described. Drop a couple of arrows, outlines and annotations here and there to emphasize what are the important parts of the mockup from the task requirements perspective.
  6. Use charts and diagrams. While it is not always necessary, sometimes it might be beneficial to prepare a flowchart, a block diagram or some other kind of concept visualization that will render it easy for the developer to comprehend the task and its scope.
  7. Spoil your developers with details. It is always safer to assume less rather than more domain knowledge in the dev team. Therefore following the KISS principle and augmenting each description or acceptance criteria list with contextual/domain knowledge and details that might become relevant is highly recommended.
  8. Describe edge cases and provide constraints. Hardly any developer likes constraints, but if there are some, let them be communicated early. Do we need to support some specific browsers? Does this script need to run below a specific amount of time? Is it crucial for this endpoint to respond in no more than n milliseconds? If there are some such concerns, make sure they are included in your descriptions. Also describing any edge cases might be beneficial. Maybe we have some query limit on a given service? If you have such knowledge it is always beneficial for your devs to know about it upfront.
  9. Provide a copy. If there is a long message to be displayed, just provide a copy for it somewhere in the description. Do not place it on mockups as it is always slower and more error-prone to re-type it than to copy-paste it.

It might have happened a couple of times that you have received a response to a bug report stating “cannot reproduce”. Hence it is also important how you describe bugfix requests.

  1. Describe steps to reproduce an issue including as many details as possible.
  2. Provide access to the affected account and services if possible. It might be hard to reproduce the exact environment on a local machine.
  3. Provide environment information, i.e., browser version, operating system version etc. Sometimes a list of installed browser plugins and extensions might be helpful as well.
  4. Provide a link to an exception and/or a stack trace, as investigating those is usually the first step to take in resolving the problem.
  5. Provide access to logs, as they can be helpful in reproducing the steps that caused the problem in the first place.
  6. Provide access to the affected server or database dump. If it is possible and when it does not violate security policies, it is usually helpful for the developer to access the original data that might have played a role in the problem.
  7. Make a screencast. It is not always necessary, but many times a short screencast (or at least a screenshot) says more than a thousand words. While working on MacOS you can use QuickTime Player for the purpose but there are plenty of tools available for other operating systems as well.
  8. Provide contact information of the person that reported the bug. This will not always be possible, but in some cases it might be advantageous and most effective if a developer can have a chat with a person that actually experienced the bug, especially if the steps to reproduce a problem are not deterministic.

Communicating requirements effectively plays a big role in the development process. Doing it wrong may cause delays in requirements delivery or lead to the implementation of features that diverge from product owner’s expectations, but it can also result in building up frustration and lowering the team morale. The list above might become helpful in mitigating such effects significantly. Following the checklist can be helpful when you add new items to the backlog — just go through all the points below and determine if each is important, not important or irrelevant in your specific context.

Features and changes

  • Requirements are updated in one place
  • An acceptance criteria list is available
  • (Annotated) mockups are provided
  • Relevant examples are in place (i.e. files, calculations)
  • Access to necessary services is ensured
  • Necessary diagrams and charts have been delivered
  • The context of tasks is described well enough / in sufficient detail
  • Important constraints and edge cases are added
  • Copy text is provided


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  • Steps to reproduce the bug have been provided
  • If possible, access to the affected account has been ensured
  • Information about the environment in which the problem occurred is available
  • Screencast(s) visualizing the problem are in place
  • An exception report and/or stack trace is provided
  • Access to server and/or database is provided
  • Access to logs and/or logging service is provided
  • Contact information to the bug reporter is available

Most of the time applying just a few of the tips above will make a huge difference and picking the right set depends on a given feature or situation. On the other hand, sometimes just one sentence might be good enough to properly handle a task — as usual, it is a matter of finding a sweet spot that balances effort/costs and benefits. This being said, I hope this article will help you make the development process smoother and your dev team — both more productive and happier.


How do you describe a task list? ›

Answer: Task Lists are a customized list of interdependent tasks that automate a certain workflow. For example, you can create a task list called “New Intake Tasks” that is comprised of 3 or 4 individual tasks (or as many as you would like) to be completed in a certain order.

How do you effectively manage tasks? ›

  1. How do you manage tasks effectively?
  2. Break up big projects into smaller tasks. ...
  3. Create a priority to-do list. ...
  4. Keep your tasks in one place. ...
  5. Set time limits and deadlines. ...
  6. Start with small tasks. ...
  7. Eat the frog. ...
  8. Focus on one task at a time.

How can I improve my dev team? ›

Taking these small yet effective steps can help optimize your software development team for higher productivity and better results.
  1. Have Clear Goals. ...
  2. Define Your Workflow. ...
  3. Create A Productive Environment. ...
  4. Support Your Team. ...
  5. Boost Expertise.
  6. Get External Help.

Which are the top 3 5 skills attributes aspects that make for a great developer? ›

7 qualities exceptional developers possess
  • Solid technical expertise. ...
  • Maintains an end user focus. ...
  • Fast self learner. ...
  • Strong communication skills. ...
  • Dependable time and task management. ...
  • A Good team player. ...
  • 'Never say die' attitude.
17 Oct 2017

What are the 3 most important skills of a great developer? ›

Having excellent problem-solving skills, confidence to achieve, and a can-do attitude toward any challenge are important software developer competencies, which make that developer a valued resource in any organization.

What are the 4 categories of tasks? ›

The Eisenhower Method offers four categories for tasks: urgent/important, not urgent/important, not important/urgent, and not important/not urgent. These work well because it allows you to quickly decide whether or not it is something that needs to be done now, later, or perhaps not at all.

How do you describe task performance? ›

Task performance is defined as produce materials or providing services, such as expertise in job-related tasks. Task performance also involves activities that support the technical part and service of a firm or an organization, such as coordinating and planning (W.C. Borman & Motowidlo, 1993).

What best describes a task definition? ›

The task definition is a text file, in JSON format, that describes one or more containers, up to a maximum of ten, that form your application. It can be thought of as a blueprint for your application. Task definitions specify various parameters for your application.

What are the 5 stages of task management? ›

Five stages of project management
  • initiation.
  • planning.
  • execution.
  • monitoring and control.
  • closure.

What are the 5 basic management task? ›

At the most fundamental level, management is a discipline that consists of a set of five general functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling.

What are the 4 ways you should prioritize tasks? ›

How to prioritize tasks at work
  • Decide which tasks are the most important. First, decide which tasks on your to-do list are the most critical. ...
  • Put your tasks in a calendar. Once you decide which tasks are most important, schedule them into your calendar. ...
  • Set boundaries.

How do I get a developer mindset? ›

The Five Elements of the Developer Mindset
  1. Learn to strap in and not stop until the job is done. Anyone who has ever dabbled in coding knows that it is an exercise in patience. ...
  2. Learn to love the pain. ...
  3. Remember WHY you are doing something! ...
  4. Remind yourself that EVERYONE needs help. ...
  5. Keep in mind that having fun is key.

What are the 3 most important attributes? ›

There are three attributes that are most important to an organization when hiring: attitude, competency and mindset.
  • Attitude. ...
  • Competency. ...
  • Mindset. ...
  • Related: Want to Avoid a Hiring Crisis? ...
  • Good attitude and strong level of competence, but the wrong mindset. ...
  • Right competency and mindset, but the wrong attitude.
22 Apr 2014

What do you think are 3 qualities of a good software developer? ›

7 Qualities That Differentiate a Great Programmer From a Good Programmer
  • A Positive Attitude.
  • Supreme Communication Skills.
  • Good Time and Task Management.
  • Quick Learning Ability.
  • Deep and Broad Technical Experience.
  • A Good Team Player.
  • Big-Picture Focus.
  • Other Things to Consider.
3 Aug 2021

What is the core skill of every developer? ›

The ability to communicate the solution

The code you write, the comments you add to it, the external documentation you compose; all should be written in a clear, unambiguous manner. Your code is not write-only (Hi, Perl!). Most of the time will be spent reading code written by you and by other developers.

What 3 skills will you bring to this role? ›

What Skills Can You Bring to the Job?
  • Technical skills.
  • Soft skills.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Transferrable skills.
  • Management skills.
  • Communication skills.

How do I categorize my tasks? ›

List #1 is for important non-time-sensitive tasks (aka things you need to do eventually but not today). List #2 is for tasks you need to complete today. List #3 is for tasks that have been on your to-do list forever, but that you're never going to get done. Once you have all three lists, start with list #2.

What are 3 key fields to include in any effective task system? ›

3 Essential Elements of an effective Task Management System
  • Electronic Master List of Everything. I use Nozbe to keep my list of everything that needs to be done. ...
  • Weekly List. ...
  • Daily List. ...
  • Plan and Scan Time. ...
  • Have a plan and work your plan.
19 Aug 2013

What are the three main types of tasks? ›

We basically distinguish between 3 different types of tasks: Incidential tasks. Coordinated tasks. Planned tasks.

What are the 6 types of performance task? ›

The following six types of activities provide good starting points for assessments in performance-based learning.
  • Presentations. Hero Images/Getty Images. ...
  • Portfolios. Steve Debenport/Getty Images. ...
  • Performances. Doug Menuez/Forrester Images/Getty Images. ...
  • Projects. franckreporter/Getty Images. ...
  • Exhibits and Fairs. ...
  • Debates.
27 May 2019

What are the five characteristics of performance? ›

Five characteristics of performance metrics

Transparent. Contextualised. Reliable. Consistent.

What are top 3 ways to improve on performance at work reference? ›

Top 3 ways to improve work performance
  • Limit distractions. According to Udemy In Depth: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report: ...
  • Split your tasks into milestones. ...
  • Stop multitasking, prioritize your work.
17 Jan 2022

What do you mean by tasks explain using example? ›

A task is an activity or piece of work which you have to do, usually as part of a larger project. Walker had the unenviable task of breaking the bad news to Hill. She used the day to catch up with administrative tasks. Synonyms: job, duty, assignment, work More Synonyms of task. 2.

What is the key term of task? ›

1 a specific piece of work required to be done as a duty or chore. 2 an unpleasant or difficult job or duty. 3 any piece of work. 4 ♦ take to task to criticize or reprove.

What is the role of task? ›

a common role that is performed by all team members which can enhance the completion rate of task. For a particular task role of every team member is called his task role. TASK ROLE: "Task role is a common role of group members to do a particular job."

What are the 47 processes of project management? ›

Summary of 47 Processes from PMBOK® 5th Ed. Guide
  • Project Integration Management.
  • Project Integration Processes.
  • Develop Project Charter.
  • Develop Project Management Plan.
  • Direct and Manage Project Work.
  • Monitor and Control Project Work.
  • Perform Integrated Change Control.
  • Close Project or Phase.
20 Nov 2015

What are the seven 7 processes of project time management? ›

The seven processes in the Project Time Management knowledge area are:
  • Plan Schedule Management (Planning process)
  • Define Activities (Planning process)
  • Sequence Activities (Planning process)
  • Estimate Activity Resources (Planning process)
  • Estimate Activity Durations (Planning process)
  • Develop Schedule (Planning process)

What are the 3 basic stages of task based learning? ›

A lesson planned within this framework consists of three phases: pre-task, task cycle and language focus.

What are the 12 function of management? ›

A manager is called upon to perform the following managerial functions:
  • Planning.
  • Organizing.
  • Staffing.
  • Directing.
  • Motivating.
  • Controlling.
  • Co-coordinating and.
  • Communicating.
30 May 2016

What are the 7 main functions of management? ›

The 7 functions of management are as follows:
  • Planning.
  • Organising.
  • Staffing.
  • Directing.
  • Coordinating.
  • Reporting.
  • Budgeting.

What are the 10 roles of manager? ›

The ten management roles are:
  • Figurehead.
  • Leader.
  • Liaison.
  • Monitor.
  • Disseminator.
  • Spokesperson.
  • Entrepreneur.
  • Disturbance Handler.

What are the 3 D's of prioritizing? ›

Productivity, Efficiency & the Three Ds: Do It, Defer It or Delegate It (to Civil Action Group) If your goals this year include being more productive and more efficient, assessing your habits and simplifying some of your strategies around workload are great places to start.

How do you prioritize a team's tasks? ›

5 steps to effectively prioritize tasks
  1. Define clear objectives and goals. Uncertainty is the enemy of productivity. ...
  2. Organize a task list for team members. ...
  3. Identify what's urgent and what's important. ...
  4. Differentiate tasks with similar priorities. ...
  5. Be flexible and adaptable.

What are 3 ways to prioritize? ›

3 Ways to Prioritize
  • QUADRANT 1: Important + Urgent. ...
  • QUADRANT 2: Important + Not-Urgent. ...
  • QUADRANT 3: Not Important + Urgent. ...
  • QUADRANT 4: Not Important + Not Urgent.

What are examples of development tasks? ›

In young adulthood, developmental tasks are mainly located in family, work, and social life. Family-related developmental tasks are described as finding a mate, learning to live with a marriage partner, having and rearing children, and managing the family home.

What is development task explain with example? ›

Developmental tasks refer to a physical or cognitive skill that a person must accomplish during a particular age period to continue development. A developmental task for infants is walking, which is followed by the development of a sense of autonomy in the toddler period.

What is the description of task? ›

Definition of task

(Entry 1 of 2) 1a : a usually assigned piece of work often to be finished within a certain time. b : something hard or unpleasant that has to be done. c : duty, function. 2 : subjection to adverse criticism : reprimand …

How would you describe an app to a developer? ›

You need to tell the developers the main purpose of your app, its desired functions, and how users can access these functions. If, for example, you want a multilevel app where the number of functions a user can access depends on his her or her level in the app, you need to include this in your description.

What are the 8 developmental tasks? ›

Understanding Erikson's 8 Stages of Development
  • Infancy – Basic trust versus mistrust.
  • Toddler – Autonomy versus shame and doubt.
  • Preschool-age – Initiative versus guilt.
  • School-age – Industry versus inferiority.
  • Adolescence – Identity versus identity confusion.
  • Young adulthood – Intimacy versus isolation.
15 Jun 2021

What are the 5 developmental tasks? ›

To develop career/vocational goals and ways to reach these goals; to be able to make a living.
  • Learning to get along with friends of both sexes.
  • Accepting one's physical body and keeping it healthy.
  • Becoming more self-sufficient.
  • Making decisions about marriage and family life.

What are the 6 developmental tasks? ›

Havighurst's developmental task model includes six stages of life: infancy and early childhood from birth to age 5, middle childhood between ages 6 and 12, adolescence between ages 13 and 18, early adulthood between ages 19 and 30, middle adulthood from age 30 to age 60, and later maturity, which is after age 60.

What are the three developmental tasks? ›

Developmental tasks vary by the stage and could include: Learning to walk. Achieving personal independence. Preparing for marriage and family life.

What is the main purpose of developmental task? ›

What are Developmental Tasks? Developmental Tasks: the broad “jobs” of childhood that need to be accomplished in each stage in order for children to learn life skills at the appropriate times. The tasks of one stage do not need to be completely mastered before a child begins the tasks of the next stage.

What are the activities of development? ›

Development Activities means all construction and site preparation work that physically takes place on the Property involving structures or improvements of any kind, and all land disturbing activities including, but not limited to, digging, drilling, excavating, grading, clearing, earth moving, filling, or performing ...

How do you describe task performance? ›

Task performance is defined as produce materials or providing services, such as expertise in job-related tasks. Task performance also involves activities that support the technical part and service of a firm or an organization, such as coordinating and planning (W.C. Borman & Motowidlo, 1993).

What are the four basic steps of a task analysis? ›

Four ways to develop the steps needed for a task analysis include watching a master, self-monitoring, brainstorming, and goal analysis.

How do you define tasks at work? ›

Defined as “a worker's/user's activity or number of activities necessary for the completion of a predicted work result” according to DIN EN ISO 6385:2004. Work tasks explicitly relate to tasks that are to be performed by humans.

What are 5 characteristics that make a good app? ›

What makes a good mobile app?
  • Characteristics of a good app. People are using mobile apps more than ever before—and app competition remains at an all-time high. ...
  • Well-designed UI. ...
  • Fast loading time. ...
  • Strong data protection. ...
  • Excellent user support. ...
  • Built-in integrations.

How do you brief a development team? ›

Here are some tips to prepare an effective brief for developers.
  1. Write Down Your Initial Idea. ...
  2. Write Your Functionality Requirements. ...
  3. Determine Your Technical Requirements. ...
  4. Create Non-Functional Requirements. ...
  5. Document Assumptions and Out-of-Scope Items. ...
  6. Communication is Key.

What are 3 parts in the process of designing an app? ›

The basic app design process consists of following steps: Setting the scope. User/market research. UX wireframe.


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