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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Timeboxing Risks

Before I got delayed we were talking about delivering software projects on time. Using the Timeboxing approach, the delivery schedule is the one absolute in the implementation plan. What features will be included in the delivery can slip, but never the date.

New requests from the user are added to the queue, but the date is not modified to accomodate them. Unexpected technical problems may delay a feature, but never an install. With this approach, progress may be slower than anticipated, but it never halts, as it can with traditional scheduling, where an installation might be put on hold until all the planned features are completed. We've outlined the benefits to this approach, but there are also some risks.

The most critical risk is safety. If Timeboxing is taken to mean that we just work away at the application until the scheduled delivery date, and then install whatever we have, users can get some nasty shocks. A major new feature might be only partially implemented. Spurious messages meant only for the programmers might appear. Untested calculation might charge people incorrect fees.

The solution is release planning. Timeboxing is not a come as you are party. Sometime before the due date, the team needs to decide what requests can actually be included. Testing on those items must be completed. Features that are not ready for prime time need to be hidden. Changes that should not be delivered need to be rolled back out. This is where a good version control system comes in. Even the sacred install date can be slid by a day or so - not more -- to assure that the work already done is ready to debut. What this really means is that internally the timebox needs to end a day or two early, so the app can be cleaned up for its public appearance.

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Comments on "Timeboxing Risks"


Blogger Unknown said ... (May 5, 2008 at 10:53 AM) : 

Just want you to know I appreciated that you were delayed in blogging about delays.


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