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Ship Mode

Looked up from heads down coding (first thing I thought was, what happened to the summer?) and realized through various projects and scheduling crises I've been in continuous "Ship Mode" since early May.

Anyone feel like sharing how long your Ship Modes are for projects/products?  3.5 months seems WAYY too long to me, but what's the rule of thumb?  Should it be 2 weeks, 2 months?  Big projects?  Small projects? 

Unfocused Focused
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I'll make the obligatory agile plug, here.

"No ship mode! Every couple weeks, you have a potentially shippable product!"

:)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

What's "ship mode?" When our product works, we ship it and then keep working.

Gorkon
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I actually like that approach - get to something that'll do SOMETHING as early as possible and then just keep bulding up until you get the feature set you need. 

And the day I get control over that #$#@% MS Project file rather than a non-technical "Manager" that's what we'll do.  Until that time, we have fun spending the first 80% of the project putting together the 'UAT build' and then spend the next 80% of the project modifying the project to meet the 'Implied requirements' the customer forgot to tell us about.  Of couse we could make the requirements doc ironclad from the beginning, but that would require planning and up front work, and tends to also uncover what the project will really cost - and that scares customers away not to be eased into the final cost.

(I'm basing my opinion that 3.5 months is too long to be in ship date from the attitude that's leaking out above.)

Unfocused Focused
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Gorkon,
  Ship mode is the mode in which the developers labor after which what was specified for the project has started undergoing testing and is found to be incapable of actually performing the needed task to run a business (as opposed to the tasks that were specified and delivered for the project.)

Unfocused Focused
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

We used to call it "crunch mode". Every company I've worked at, save the one I'm work at now (where we use agile project management -- XP's planning process), there was a crunch around the time of finishing.

Usually it's related to some hard or semi-hard date, along with a hard or semi-hard feature list. Developers go off on their own for a while, thinking "eh, we're not shipping for 6 months" and waste some time on non-work stuff. Time passes, date gets closer, pace gets more frenetic. Dates slip, integration becomes a nightmare, QA is yelling that there's nothing to test yet, you miss the original ship date, and end up shipping late with not enough features.

Whew. "At least it's over," you think. Time to plan for the next release. Repeat cycle.

After a decade of this, it gets pretty tiring being on the crunch mode roller-coaster.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

We don't have modes. We just write software all day and send it to our customers when it works. They seem to like it.

Gorkon
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The first half of the project is the hardest.  In the second half of the project, a lot of bugs have been fixed and things are going a lot smoother.

By the time we get to the third half, things are going smoothly and we're ready to ship.

Maytag Repairman
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

...First half...
...Second half...
...Third half...

(3/2) > 1.  That is why we always ship late.

I thought it was something in the water.

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Ship mode = (reasonabletimeline) - (salesandmarketingdeadline)

Daniel Shchyokin
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Usually it's related to some hard or semi-hard date, along with a hard or semi-hard feature list. Developers go off on their own for a while, thinking "eh, we're not shipping for 6 months" and waste some time on non-work stuff. Time passes, date gets closer, pace gets more frenetic. Dates slip, integration becomes a nightmare, QA is yelling that there's nothing to test yet, you miss the original ship date, and end up shipping late with not enough features."

Nicely written.  I lived like this for 18 months once.  What we finally shipped, sank the company.  A horrible experience.  And you know what caused it?  Our core group decided to rewrite from scratch.  At the time I was on their side.  Until the bugs started appearing.  And appearing.  And appearing.  AND APPEARING... (Cut to the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark".)

Grumpy Old-Timer
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Looked up from heads down coding (first thing I thought was, what happened to the summer?) "

I just did this too. Man what a bummer a tough "ship mode"  is. I've been in one for about 6 weeks, and it's been the most frustrating 6 weeks I've had in programming. (130hrs/wk...)

Nothing to add, just sympathy.

  --Josh

JWA
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Yep .. before I left Corel we were in 'ship mode' (or crunch time as everyone called it) for a solid two months getting Print Office 6 ready. We finished it, QA pronounced it good, and then they laid off most of the team and canned the project. I stayed another two weeks and then left for Nortel :)

jedidjab79
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I absolutely hate that "ship mode" --> lay off everyone bit.  It may be the culture and expected at game companies, but when it hits you unexpectedly, and the job wasn't all that exciting anyway...  Well, the bitter evil part of me notices that quitting a month or two before the official ship date is really the way to go.

And my last release, we ended six months of design and immediately started the (first) last month of development.  There were approximately five more last months of development after it.  Talk about 3 halves...

How do I find a company that actually *does* agile development, rather than just liking the idea of it, again?

Mikayla
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"I just did this too. Man what a bummer a tough "ship mode"  is. I've been in one for about 6 weeks, and it's been the most frustrating 6 weeks I've had in programming. (130hrs/wk...)"

130/7 = 18.6 hours of work a day = 5.4 hours of sleep a day (assuming no commute time/eating etc.).  First, I don't believe anyone actually does this.  Second, If you did do this, you could probably be doing the same amount of work in half the time because you aren't being productive during a lot of those hours.  You are instead being, tired, frustrated and confused.

chris
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"How do I find a company that actually *does* agile development, rather than just liking the idea of it, again?"

I did it, by making my title "co-founder".

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I implemented the whole procedure from scratch for my present employer. It took me a year of fight to propagate the ideas to other groups.

Needless to say I got no credit for doubling the productivity, but at least I did not chase my own tail trying to fix problems.

You need a 'get things done' attitude, and once the conversion is started there is no going back.

We never do overtime, and our ship mode lasts 1-2 weeks, mostly because of QA delays.

19th floor
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"130/7 = 18.6 hours of work a day = 5.4 hours of sleep a day (assuming no commute time/eating etc.).  First, I don't believe anyone actually does this.  Second, If you did do this, you could probably be doing the same amount of work in half the time because you aren't being productive during a lot of those hours.  You are instead being, tired, frustrated and confused. "

I did it for three weeks, but it was actually slightly before ship mode time. We alloted one week for inserting the localization strings into the app, but then ran into the resource manager "quirks" in VS 2003 which made it more like four. I have a home office and was sleeping 3-4 hours per night (usually from 7-10am). I'm always more productive coding in the evening, but I was of course not optimal during the mid-day hours, so I scheduled my work according to my level of concentration. I generally met with the testing guys or documentation people during the mid-day and saved coding for after 6:00pm or so when I was at my coding peak.

While this is definately not optimal, I would say that in short periods of time (maybe two weeks max) it's no different form an athlete being in "the zone". I'd say that working that hard I'm maybe 10% less productive than working 12 hours/day, but easily 10% more productive than working 8 hours per day in a corporate environment.

Your comment about productivity is also relative. When you're up against real deadlines getting something done when it's due is much more important than the overall efficiency rate at which it's done. You can't count man hours worked the same as absolute time to completion. If you pull an overnighter on something and get it done in one day, that's sometimes better than getting it done in two 8-hour work days but it's not ready to hand off until the morning of the third day. The time worked may be 66%, but the time to get it done was three days compared to one.

Anyways, it does happen, people do it, and it can be done productively for a finite period of time if managed correctly.

  --Josh

JWA
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Oh yeah, I should probably state that none of this would have been neccesary had I not agreed to a schedule that was reasonable only under best-case circumstances when using new tools.

Live and learn.

  --Josh

JWA
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Our ship mode is generally x weeks.  I'm generally sick of ship mode after x/2 weeks.  Thankfully, it takes me x+1 weeks to get so fed up with ship mode as to start taking it out on cow-orkers.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

jedidjab79,

I'm not the only Corel survivor around here?  Wow talk about a mismanaged company.  I was waiting for the day Cowpland announced a palm OS version of Word Perfect so he could crush Bill Gates once and for all!

christopher baus
Thursday, August 14, 2003

"I'm not the only Corel survivor around here?  Wow talk about a mismanaged company.  I was waiting for the day Cowpland announced a palm OS version of Word Perfect so he could crush Bill Gates once and for all!"

I worked at a company that did a lot of work for Corel. They were such good customers. Sure, most of their projects didn't make sense, and they all were going to crush Bill Gates once and for all, but it was so much fun.

Gustavo W.
Thursday, August 14, 2003

Sorry for the hit and run - the joys of not being finished with Ship Mode.  Still churning to get this beast (the third ship since the beginning of July) in shape for testing.  And yes agree with the Agile philosophy of "Test early, test continuously"  but we're still waterfalling it pretty hard. 

Unfocused Focused
Monday, August 18, 2003

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