The Meaning of "Schedule"


be done. A team with a real schedule gets to list for itself everything they need to get done, and track the progress of each process.

An honest, real schedule won't be gospel, and will still slip. But your end-date will be based on real work estimates. Incremental tracking lets you make adjustments as they happen, so you're not startled by a slip at the end. Accurate scheduling may not be possible in this relatively young, unpredictable industry, but exercise improves scheduling muscles just like any other kind. And the act of scheduling connects management to the work as nothing else can, except doing it.

A real schedule is hard to predict, and puts a focus on accuracy that some of us don't want to see ahead of time. In our high-stress community, sometimes we expect rewards for busyness and speed, not for accomplishment and quality. People want to believe that longer hours mean more work gets done, whether this is true or not. Managers want to believe that a pushed project finishes faster, whether this is true or not. Studies have cast doubt on both these notions, but the notions live. We're not quite ready yet to give them up.

High-tech projects are criticized for being "slow"-they're never criticized for being unpredictable. Yet aren't accurate predictions what business needs most? When there is no realistic schedule, people in the trenches conspire to invent one. They have no other choice because they need to do so to plan their work. The actual users want to know what the team in the trenches knows. Have you seen any of these dubious schedules being foisted upon your project team. If so, please add a comment and share how you handled it, and what happened.

About the author

Sheryl Smith's picture Sheryl Smith

Sheryl Smith is Chief Testing Geek at TestDesigns, Inc. She specializes in software test architecture and setup/improvement of QA groups. She shows management how to recognize when QA is functioning effectively, and how it needs to relate to other groups in the organization. Email:

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