Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meeting Project Deadlines

Following a comment on my note yesterday.

There are no panaceas, only checks and balances and choices, while we hope that management has enough experience and insight to choose appropriately. By the way, insight and lateral thinking to me are just the identification of hidden variables, but that's another subject.

Anyway, no miracles, but these are five genuine ways to achieve deadlines, all that I have actually experienced.

1. Have everyone work ridiculous hours. Not just long hours, stupid hours. Say 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. actually in the office every day. Including weekends. And not just at launch time, but for month after month after month. But it was Wall Street.

2. Rent more equipment. At the same office as above, the client had a splendid approach to hardware issues. PC not working or running too slowly? Phone IT support pointing out that you are losing thousands of dollars in productivity and potential lost trades … and within an hour you could get a completely brand new one set up and running at your desk.

3. Recruit more short term staff. In the early 1990's I worked on a big government project, and the deadline was completely immovable because of legislative commitments. But because the wider economy was struggling, no shortage of skilled resource elsewhere, so a constantly growing team.

4. Shiftwork. At a utility company, where it was hard to persuade people and unions to work extended hours, and there was not enough flexibility to hire more PCs and desks. So we had one set of developers working 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and another working from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Deliberately an hour of overlap for "handover" but that hour was chaos, remember not enough PCs and desks.

5. Compromise quality. I deliberately wrote that to sound harsh, but it is inevitable. Where you cannot grow the team or squeeze more out of the team or extend the deadline or change the specified deliverable, then "something" can usually be delivered on time, but that something will not match all of the prior expectations. Tough.

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