Blog Friday Q&A

How to deal with software project delays

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Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.

Happy Friday!

This week’s question is:

This is an incredibly common problem on all kinds of teams (startups and large companies alike), and it’s been a problem for us as well.

We solved it with a two-fold strategy: understanding how productivity actually works, and being more honest in our project planning.

Being Okay With Not Being Hyper‑Productive

You won’t get 8 hours of 100% productivity from every employee every day.

You simply won’t. People don’t work that way, and little things always get in the way.

And tackling this issue is as much about the practical (getting more productive and efficient as a team) as it is about the psychological: coming to terms with the fact that you’re not going to move as quickly as you think.

Not just in development, but across all fronts.

That doesn’t mean that you should give in and not try. Far from it.

Every single person on our team busts their ass every single week to push Groove forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This isn’t about being okay with moving slow.

It’s about understanding reality, and letting that reality lead to constant surprise and disappointment.

Because just like delays can add up, those little disappointments do, too. And the compound effect of little disappointments can make a huge impact on your team’s morale.

Be Honest in Your Project Planning

Many businesses use a point-based approach to project planning, where each employee has an allotted number of “points” (usually one points equals one hour) per week, and those points are spread across a variety of tasks.

We used to do something similar, though we’re moving to a Kanban approach for many reasons (I’ll be writing another post about this soon).

But most businesses who do this are far too optimistic in their estimates. Most employees don’t actually put in 40 “points” in a week; that number is typically much, much closer to 30 in my experience and in the experience of many entrepreneurs I’ve talked to about it.

Being brutally honest with yourself about how much productive time your team actually has will go a long way in getting better and more accurate at project planning.

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From “aha” to “oh shit”, we’re sharing everything on our journey to $10M in annual revenue. We’re learning a lot and so will you.

About the Author

Alex Turnbull is the CEO & Founder of Groove (simple helpdesk software for small businesses) who loves to build startups and surf.

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