Continuous Improvement with the Root Cause Analysis add-on for JIRA

Every company or organization strives for continual improvement and while companies developing software are often on the leading edge of this ideology, there can be some gaps that limit the potential for improvement which are often easily addressed. The strive for higher quality is one of the most often heard continuous improvement goals within a software development company and with good reason! Customers have higher expectations of software then ever before and will often not wait around for problems to be eventually addressed before moving on to the next competitors offering. What this inevitably means is that the cost of every bug that finds its way into production versions of our software is steadily increasing as our customers expectations increase. While every bug that makes its way out of a developers hands will have a cost, the ultimate cost of a production bug is the irreparable damage it can have on your customer relationships.

Addressing a quality problem within a software development team can be a tricky task since it is often not obvious what factors are contributing to the bugs that your customers are finding in your software product. With every bug uncovered and fixed many organizations have unknowingly missed a critical continuous improvement opportunity.

When a developer investigates a reported bug and implements a code fix, some form of Root Cause Analysis is performed in order to determine what the problem was and the most appropriate way to fix the root cause. More often then not, the insight gained from such an investigation is only beneficial to the developer fixing the bug. The developer and tester involved with the change that caused the bug often never hear about the problem and may continue to make the same mistake again and again.

With the Root Cause Analysis plugin for Atlassian JIRA, the Root Cause Analysis process becomes a more explicit part of your software development workflow and ensures that team members are aware of downstream issues that are a result of code changes that they had either implemented or tested.

Collaborative Analysis

Bring the whole team together for the Root Cause Analysis so that the continuous improvement experience can benefit all affected individuals. Once the bug investigation yields the root cause (carefully avoiding pin-pointing a symptom) and the JIRA issue that the code change was made under is identified, the Root Cause Analysis plugin jumps into action. This identified JIRA issue becomes the “Root Cause Issue” and the Resolver and Closer information is automatically obtained.

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Invaluable Feedback

Upon identifying the Root Cause Issue, the Resolver and Closer of the Root Cause Issue are notified via email about a bug being found with a code change that they had been involved with in the past. They are then prompted to review the bug and provide a summary of their review.  We’ve provided a JIRA dashboard gadget that will serve as a visual reminder that you need to take some form of action within a Root Cause Analysis session. We all know how easy it is to forget about an email notification!

This reflection on past work and being involved in the downstream affect of an error provides an extremely valuable continuous improvement opportunity that might otherwise have been missed!

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Uncover Trending Behaviors

With the Root Cause Analysis plugin you will now be able to spot problem trends as they are happening within your team in order to understand what needs to be done to improve for the future. Using the Root Cause Analysis reporting features, you can get an organizational view of all root causes identified between a set of dates, use the filtering features to see only root causes identified within a particular project, or drill right down to a particular team member to understand why the tasks they work on often result in edge case bugs. Perhaps you’ll discover that many of the bugs that reach your customers could have been avoided by providing some additional training to your developers and testers in your software’s problem domain.

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The Root Cause Analysis plugin for JIRA can be purchased for JIRA Server from the Atlassian Marketplace. Try it today to stop fixing symptoms and start drilling down to the Root Cause!

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