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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Trying to get non-responsive members of the team be more schedule sensitive

We know this problem, it happens all the time. You have different members of the team, some more disciplined and some less disciplined. Actually discipline is the wrong word. When you have creative members of the team, or team members who are attached to multiple projects, then there can be problems with respect to scheduling of their deliverables. In the case of team members such as User Interface Designers or Visual Experts, or Visual Designers, they typically do not move to the same beat as that of the rest of the project teams, such as Engineers or Testing Engineers.
This can be problematic for the rest of the team, since schedules are interlinked to each other. For example, the User Interface Designer would prepare design specifications that are used by the team members to discuss and finalize the feature workflow and the technical architecture. These are then developed and passed onto the testing team which does the testing and then releases the feature. However, if the initial design does not come in time, then the rest of the schedule will get impacted.
One of the problems that I have experienced with User Designers or similar creative people is that they do not work in pieces; they would like to look at the overall workflow for the product and then release a completed design. But the team does not work like this, it would like workflow designs feature by feature, so that the work can be done feature by feature (and it makes logical sense).
Another option that could have been postulated is that the Workflow Designer could have a period of 2-3 months before the start of the cycle, so that the Designer gets enough time to make the design. This seems logical, but there are problems in this. The Workflow Designer does not work entirely on his / her own, but needs to work with the Product Manager and the team members (the team members  are involved so that the team could figure out the technical cost of doing the Workflow designs; some of these workflows may take more time and effort than other workflows and the contribution of the technical team in figuring out these is critical. This process can be iterative).
So how do you work out trying to get such more creative members as part of the process?
- First and foremost, it is necessary to ensure that you do not make the assumption that these resources understand the critical nature of meeting their schedule deliveries. It would be needed to spend much more time with these people and form a detailed plan for deliveries, doing this discussion multiple times till an understanding has been formed.
- In my experience, it was also necessary to have 2 dates in the schedule with a few dates gap between the 2 dates. It was necessary to push the delivery to happen for the first date, but there was also the understanding that the delivery happening on the 2nd date would also work fine without threatening the schedule.
- It was also realized that there was the need for a regular reminder along with checking about state of progress and updating the rest of the team on such progress. So, the Project Manager had setup a weekly meeting with the workflow designer to discuss the state of progress and the deliverable, and figure out alternatives if there was a delay.

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