Dapeng Li

Hungry, foolish and passionate – yet another software developer.

What happened in the last three months – we worked hard & we got luck

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In the last three months I’ve been working on a project that’s important, challenging and interesting.

When we started three months ago, most people (including me) didn’t believe we can make it happen by the end of September, some of the concerns being:

  • It’s technically challenging with the restrictions we had been given. Other people had done something similar before but the way they did it was not flexible or expandable, the cost of maintenance was too high, not to mention adding new functionalities.
  • None of people in the team had worked on similar products before.
  • We have a hard deadline (end of September) while some people are always trying to push it earlier.
  • A lot of people have fear, uncertainty and doubt, for various reasons.

In short, whatever other team had done wrong we were expected to do it right, whatever we will do that they had not done before we should also do it right… and in three months, which happened to take them much longer with more resources.

Frankly speaking, we did not know what to expect at the end of September, but we decided to try our best and do whatever we can – even if it failed it shall not because we didn’t push hard enough.

Here’s what happened next:

  • We evaluate our options and quickly decide on the conservative (arguably mature) and less risky one.
  • People who are not willing to put in their best efforts are allowed to leave the team.
  • We break tasks down and settle on an iterative cycle (an aggressive one) to deliver functionalities each week according to their importance. Luckily we also have a person who have the knowledge on how the making of software should work and have the guts to say “NO” to people paying him to do the job (who do not necessarily know how it should work).
  • People always have fear, uncertainty and doubt; we cannot change that.

Then at the start of each week we decide on what to achieve, each day we talk to each other on how we’re doing, at the end of each week we deliver what we had finished. We picked up the pace and then it went like this for three months.

People in the team knew what they were doing and worked hard – for example, in the last 13 weeks I logged 54.4 billable hours per week on average, I think most people in the team also had a tally that’s close.

We delivered the first stable release last weekend, we are happy with what had been done and I am really proud of the team. It’s not the time to be optimistic prematurely since there are more phases scheduled, but I would call what had happened in the last three month a “success”.

And finally, I think we are also lucky, at least to me. It’s a project in JavaScript which I happened to decided to learn about 5 months ago; many of the important decisions we made in the project worked as expected; my primary text editor was the one took me three attempts (in the span of about 2 years) to finally be productive with.

Yeah, we worked hard and we got luck, and we are happy.

Written by Dapeng

October 2nd, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Programming

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