Managers hate surprises . Your manager has made delivery commitments and cannot afford to be surprised with the news that your project will be late. I consider it important to spend one minute a day informing my manager where I stand with my projectswhether he initiates the conversation or I do. Then, once a week, I prepare a one-page summary of where I stand and ask him for a five-minute review and evaluation of the projects. In this interview I can ask him for another, more challenging, project.
IT management is so averse to disagreeable surprises that it has adopted effective, if sometimes low-tech, ways of avoiding them. Every change to an existing computerized application, every implementation of a new application, depends on the programmers getting every line of code and every testing scenario correct. However, IT management cannot guarantee the success of any new application, or even any change to an existing production application, because programming is experimental. So changes can have profoundly negative consequences that are visible to the corporate office, yet the changes must be made, and new programmed applications must be implemented.
One very practical way some IT management avoids disagreeable programming surprises (and the inevitable corporate management reaction) is by refusing to allow programming changes to be implemented in production during the week of the monthly financial closing (or for two weeks before the end of a fiscal quarter). Part of the reason for this low-tech but effective solution is that many years of production have shown that there is simply little time for solid recovery procedures that redeem major problems in month-end closings, which are typically processed on weekends. The IT management on call to cover the weekend monthly closings typically cannot find and correct the programming problems themselves , and the savvy programmer is surf fishing , sans beeper .
Understanding how unwelcome surprises are to management should make you careful not to hide your dawning knowledge that your work is going to take longer than you had expectedor any other problems your manager deserves to know about.