Often in software development, we make updates to the system which may not be related to or driven by customer feature requirements and customer launches. These updates are typically categorized under one of the following: moving forward, improving usability, refactoring, internally driven user interface update, getting to the next level, minor functional updates, warnings or small bug fixes, etc. At some point in the past, these were spec'ed and assigned to a future release. That is.. somewhere way into the future where everything seemed calm, and crisis free.

When we catch up to these future releases, the engineering team feels there is not a 'real' deadline for some of these projects, and often use that as an excuse for slipping the release or simply shifting these these items out of the current release's scope if the current release's freeze deadline is near.

This deferral results in a large pile of projects growing in the future. And worse.. some projects get deferred from release to next release continually. Take note that these are projects we've all agreed have some importance.. often the project was filed by the engineering themselves.

Can you suggest ways to coach the engineering team to take on the responsibility to treat these non-customer launch/non-crisis releases and features with a strong level of urgency, and strictness about the deadline?


jess's picture

Oh yes, this is the "since there is no outside customer, completing the work on time is not important" syndrome. It happens all the time and it can have an impact on projects for customers if an "internal" improvement holds up other work.

If you haven't done so, I suggest you listen to the December 2006 podcasts on developing a sense of urgency in your team. This is crucial for these internal projects.

Finally, you need to make it clear that missing these internal milestones is not acceptable. You need to make sure that sufficient time and resources are allocated to avoid excuses for not completing the work. Then don't accept excuses. Apply the feedback model when they do miss them.

Mark's picture
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Sorry this took me so long.

I think the problem is that there are no repercussions for the slippage. I don't think you need coaching for the team... you just need to do your job and hold other professionals accountable for what they say they're going to do. When they don't meet a deadline, or it's clear they won't.... give them some feedback. Nice as pie negative feedback.