Now and then, you will hear a software manager boast,“My team always ships on-time.” That’s a pretty impressive statement. Assuming that the team has shipped multiple times and that the software it builds is nontrivial, shipping on the baselined, planned date, 100 percent of the time, is quite an accomplishment.
However, teams that always ship on-time sooner or later have to lower the quality bar in order to hit the ship date. We’re not saying that they do so on every release. But a team that never compromises its ship quality criteria will eventually miss a ship date.
Navigating a development cycle requires constant rebalancing of priorities and reallocation of resources. In general, organizations have five main “levers” with which to steer the project:
If you have formulated a rational plan, you have balanced these factors at the outset of the project. As you proceed, however, some things change, and you discover that other things were not what you thought they were. So, you adjust some combination of the five levers to keep your project on track to a successful outcome.
As we saw in Pattern 28, “Time Removes Cards from Your Hand,” the closer you get to the ship date, the less useful some of your levers become. For example,
When you encounter problems late in the release cycle, you often find yourself with only two operable levers: calendar time and ship quality criteria. If you have managed well, the problems you find late in the project are not going to be mammoth ones, but they may still require course correction.
If you really are committed to shipping exactly on-time, every single time, you are left with only one correction available: relaxing your ship quality criteria.
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Take a look at Tom DeMarco's Risk Management for Dummies article, published in CrossTalk.
Als auf der Welt das Licht Ausging, the German edition of Tom DeMarco's science fiction epic, Andronescu's Paradox, has now been published by Hanser Verlag in Munich. Translation by Andreas Brandhorst.
Read Tom DeMarco's article from the July/August edition of IEEE Software: Sigil, BlueGriffon, and the Evolving Software Market.
Announcing the publication of the third edition of Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's iconic text, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. The book is available now from Amazon or directly from Addison Wesley. See press release on Business Wire.
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