Deadlines in a crunch

Deadlines are like dominos. If you miss one, it can cascade to all the other following deadlines making it very difficult to catch up. You need to stop this from happening, immediately. If you do not catch up, it can be very difficult, or even impossible, to get on track, and you can end up being stuck in a perpetual crunch if the deadlines are always falling behind.

If the deadlines are always impossible to achieve there is a good chance that the initial estimates were not correct. How to correct this? In an agile environment where the team creates the task list for the coming weeks it can quickly be amended to allow for time to fix the deadlines. Hopefully you find yourself in this situation, but if you are in a crunch you need to merge the deadlines together to allow any traction you have in other areas to catch up for this.

Get rid of demos, there is no time for throw away code.
Get rid of presentations for anyone involved in getting the project out the door.
Lock down everything, no feature creep, no requirement changes.
Get QA to test the daily build, anything older is a waste of time to test.
Avoid creating tools, if you don’t have it now, they will have to wait.

Always try and avoid creating “throw away” code, if you are having to maintain the code or build off it, you should always do things right, it will always save you time. In a crunch it is easy to want to hack. If you really have to, make sure you document every hack with a prefix like “HACK_” in front of every variable and function that you create. At least if you do this you should be able to find these easily, and hopefully clean this up if you have time (although realistically you won’t have time).

Just do your best to get it done, but there will be more code than you will have time to do. During this time the quality will go way down, and management pressures will likely push the quality even lower. You will be tired, you will not be at your best, maintenance will be difficult, but with a lot of luck you can get it out the door with minimal hacks.

Best of luck,
Michael Hubbard

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