Scrum but (Part 1)

The SE management world goes nuts over the terms Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and any other idea that makes it easier to get more work out of the same number of people and predict release dates. What happens when the deadlines and work intake doesn't lend itself to anything like that?

You pretend that it does! You get an estimate of how much time it takes to complete a vague description of the work, management sets a due date, and you hope for the best! You go on creating and refining stories like normal and then work out if the deadline is within the realm of possibility.

Of course that doesn't happen until a ways through the project, but the sooner possible failure is detected, the more that can be done to avert it. If completion by the date promised is not going to happen, then you have a few options to take to management:

  1. Try to get the deadline moved. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If they promised this date or this date was imposed by the client, you're stuffed.
  2. Try to get the scope decreased. Again, it depends on what was promised. Sometimes the scope can be creatively reworked or bits delayed until later.
  3. Get help from elsewhere. Maybe parts can be done by people outside or contractors can be brought in. This is more dependent on how much on-boarding is necessary to bring coworkers or contractors up to speed.
  4. Death march. Management must be aware that this will cause issues with employees or may cause them to leave.

Be wary of places with this setup because eventually some degree of #4 will be in your future. Each death march will take its mental (and possibly physical) toll on you, so best to avoid it if you can.

Day 31 of #100DaysToOffload

Tags: Work