Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Dedication or Death March?

Sunday, December 19, 2004  

They're sooo close to being done...

My staff is finishing up a three day upgrade to our CRM system. They have worked Friday night, all day Saturday and are trying to wrap it up tonight. They've already blown past their rubicon, the go/no go deadline I told them to set for themselves.

"If we could only get one more bug fixed, it would be done," they say.

And I'm letting them do it.

Management exists to further the aims of the organization. Sometimes that means taking a risk that your bright, well-trained and motivated team will totally blow it by obsessing with the problem, creating a tunnel vision that will swallow them up. Yet I do not want to pull the plug on their efforts, which have been substantial. So I am waiting for them, checking up on their final push and encouraging them, even while I listen to make sure that they aren't in a fog of weariness, making bad decisions. It's going to be a close call. The rollback plan will take about an hour to perform, so that's good news.

What will they take from this experience if they succeed? Hopefully confidence in their abilities, tempered with a tongue-lashing about trying a death-march with every project. It will be to their credit that they overcame a number of problems during the actual upgrade that they did not find in their trial runs. They performed pretty good triage on the system problems from what I can tell, although I need to find out more of the details.

What if they fail? It would be a heartbreak for the team, but there would be some good reasons for it:

1. The test network that the upgrades were done on was not 100% like the production network. It turned out that some Microsoft patches applied to the production network caused some early failures and set back the project by hours.

2. The migration of data didn't turn out as smoothly as it did on the test network. I don't have as much information on this as I'd like, but the audit of converted data could have been more complete.

3. By being overtired, they aren't going to be able to support the product very well tomorrow morning.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 12/19/2004 11:12:00 PM

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