How does development cause bottlenecks?

Testing always gets the blame for being the bottleneck!

Inspired by a great post from Kristin on how 9 reasons how testing is the bottleneck, I thought it would be fun to look at it from the developer’s side.

From your experience, how does dev cause bottlenecks?


By having a larger head count than the test department!
When you have 10 developers and just 1 tester I wouldn’t exactly call the tester the bottleneck but the dev department too big (or the test department too small).


Probably some of the classics:

  • No estimation on unit tests
  • No estimation for bug fixing
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To less:

  • documentation provided for others (testing, support, etc.)
  • help at any problem with the product (including test environment and automation)
  • fixing test blocking bugs
  • devs for a specific technology while many for others

Devs being busy with thing X while others would need them for thing Y.
Sometimes caused by management assigning them important work in the last minute.

Good question.
In my team dev often causes bottlenecks by doing nothing but pure development (no/minimal documentation, maintenance, training). While they are happily collecting tech dept and working with outdated knowledge the testers are migrating our automation environment to a new server as well as answering all the questions dev is ignoring.

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When I think of reasons why developers might not be getting tickets through to test very frequently, I think about:

  • Developers are not experienced enough (with coding or the project) to reach a solution quickly, so spend a long time trying out different things until something works
  • There are lots of unforeseen problems that arise during development that need investigating before the ticket can be tested
  • Tickets are put to test with obvious defects, due to the developer not testing their own work enough

And how can testers (or anyone) help with this? Reduce unforeseen problems by being thorough in backlog sessions, help devs test their own work in advance by providing at least a basic test plan, and try to encourage a team environment where it is ok to reach out for help and ask questions early.

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By not testing their work before a handoff. Granted, I try to push for group testing, specifically for larger projects, but I have for sure been asked to help test a feature that I begin to look at and immediately run into errors that prevent me from testing most of it.

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Being the single source for information, technical as well as functional (partly having multiple roles), busy with other things, mostly developing.

I think there was already a topic shared on this topic a few weeks ago with a link to a developer’s blog of bottlenecks. I can’t find it now.

I see multiple perspectives on a bottleneck in development:

  • related to the company(how well things flow from business to production and distributed across departments),
  • to the technical stack(how well things flow on the technical path),
  • to the internal expectations process(how much does anything matter and to whom).

Then there are multiple perspectives(across departments, internal to the Software dev, users). Some people see it as a bottleneck, others as a good pace. Some as a problem, others don’t even care.

There are chains of causes and effects for each bottleneck. If one goes back to basics, as software is driven by humans, it mostly resumes human nature, knowledge, accidents, and miscommunication.

There are internal and external factors.

There are solutions for problems to avoid or cover bottlenecks.
There can be sick people not cause bottlenecks, as other seniors pick up their work and finish it on time.
Some managers change their minds or blame the developers for misunderstanding what they wanted and call the software dev slow or incompetent.

So I don’t have a specific answer, anything can happen…

I can counter-argue any of the listed examples here with a context where that problem wasn’t causing a bottleneck.

I had this on a project today. They were asking about testing timelines and we threw it back at them and asked “when is the code freeze going to be?”.