answer, I asked "Has this schedule been leveled?"
I was greeted by blank stares by some, hostility by others. "Adding resources and leveling is too time consuming and complex! It's too hard to make the dates come out right!" they replied hotly.
I asked, "Well, how many people did you assume were going to work on this?" More blank stares. "Well, what's the budget?"
"Ten thousand man-hours," the estimator replied promptly.
"OK, that's five man-years. This project has a deadline one year from notice to proceed. But I can't get five people working on it right away. It will take at least two or three months to ramp up, and a couple of months to ramp down. That means for seven months, I am going to need to burn about twelve hundred hours per month. That's about seven an a half people per month, at the peak. I only have ten people on my team, and we have other projects."
"Can't you use contractors?" they inquired.
"What's the training budget?" Needless to say, there was no training budget.
Climbing Out of the Hole
At least I established that it was a death march right away. If you find out that you have schedule issues early enough, you may have time to recover. I could re-work the schedule, building in all the things that had been left out, assign dummy resources and level it. That would give me an idea how deep a hole I was in.
Anybody got a ladder?