replan the project and change the project practices.
Am I working later than other people on the project?
If so, is that appropriate, or are their requests for me to work later making it easier on them and harder on me? Is there a way to accommodate their requests? Louisa's developers had a reasonable want-to verify their fixed problems-but the cost of verifying fixes late at night was too high for Louisa.
Am I working overtime because I don't think the other people on the project are pulling their weight?
If you're taking care of other people's work, you will always work too much overtime and your work will suffer. Your job is to do your job the best you know how, not to also perform Roberta's, Samantha's, or Alice's job. The consequences of performing more than your work are numerous. Some common problems are: the manager thinks everyone is performing up to par, and the other people will try to pawn their work off on you.
Project overtime may be a reasonable solution to the problem of meeting the project deadline, as long as the overtime is of short duration and there's a respite afterwards. If you're faced with a request for overtime before the end of the project, you can say, "I want to help the project as much as possible." Follow that up with some questions or requests:
"Is this a short sprint to an intermediate milestone, or are you asking me to commit to overtime for the entire rest of the project?"
Decide if either of these actions fit for you.
"Can we also change some development (or testing practices)? I've been thinking about peer reviews, and I think that will help the developers prevent more problems from entering the build."
If you have been thinking about a particular practice, such as peer review, more frequent builds, or different testing practices, now is the time to discuss it. The project manager is probably desperate for a solution.
"Can you estimate our project progress every day, so we can see how much progress we're making?
The more clear our project progress is, the more I'll see where to put my efforts."
If you're faced with imminent overtime, or you're already putting in long hours, think about whether it makes sense to do so. The more overtime you rack up in the early part of the project, the less capability you have to do more work at the end.
If overtime is necessary, consider whether your project team should continue doing more of the same, or if it's time to change development, testing, or project management practices. Overtime is your last project weapon to meet the deadline. Use it wisely.
Acknowledgements: I thank Esther Derby and Dwayne Phillips for their review of this article.
For more data about overtime and the problems it causes in software organizations, see chapter 19 in the book IT Measurement: Practical Advice from the Experts , edited by the International Function Point Users Group, Addison-Wesley, 2002. Fellner's paper explains that when overtime decreases, productivity increases.