June 15, 2005

Interval Training The Most Productive Approach For Death Marches?

Crunch Mode or, as I've more often used, the Death March is that seemingly endless slog at the end of a project when the deadline is looming and there's just too much work to fit into the remaining time.

It's a pretty common occurrence in software projects, as plans and timescales are usually optimistic and no-one likes to disappoint the customer by cutting features or slipping the ship date. "If we just put some extra hours in for these last few weeks..."

The only problem is that death marches tend to last longer than anyone expects, or wants. And they're rather demoralising.

The underlying problem is the difficulty in measuring the productivity of software engineers - so although the gut feel when in the middle of a death march is that productivity is suffering, it's hard to prove when defending a decision to slip the end date or cut functionality.

Hopefully, "Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons" will help managers defend against extended crunch periods as it provides links to an assortment of research into discovering that 40-hour weeks are optimal for productivity in the medium- to long-term (anything more than a month or so).

Posted by Adrian at June 15, 2005 12:02 PM | TrackBack

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