Dan poked his head around the corner of the cubicle where Marta, Mike, and Tim were working. "How many bugs today, Marta?"
Harried, Marta glanced at him briefly. "Eleven." She returned to her work.
"Top five still the same?" He hated to keep interrupting her, but at this stage of the project, he felt confronting her now was more effective than setting up a formal meeting later.
"Still the same."
"Stop by before you leave today, OK?"
"Got it." She kept her focus on the screen.
Dan left the testing area and headed back to his office. Some managers might have been offended, but he had been through similar levels of stress in earlier projects. "End-game is a pretty good name for this stage of a project," he thought. He had played some chess growing up, and he could still remember the intense concentration involved in the final moves to checkmate, as he tried to reach his goal without letting his opponent sneak up on him. "We know the moves we want to make, and we're trying to make them. What we don't know is whether or not a bug is going to rear up and bite us."
The team had reached bug convergence three days earlier. Fortunately, RMS was a small enough project that hitting bug convergence wasn't difficult, even considering the pilot release in progress. The test team had quickly discovered around 20 bugs, which the development team had reduced to 10 in one day. Subsequently, the rate of bug discovery had slowed substantially, although everyone by this point had begun to feel pressure to finalize the project.
However, during the past two days, the team hadn't made much progress at all in resolving the project's outstanding issues. In fact, no one could determine the causes of the top five bugs. Most frustrating was that several bugs seemed linked to the new server purchased exclusively for RMS.
When he got to his office, Dan checked the project charts on the wall. He had hoped they could reach the zero-bug release deadline by Thursday, but meeting that deadline was becoming less and less likely. Until now, the project team hadn't used any buffer time; maybe it was necessary now to take some buffer time from the bank. "It's too soon to decide," Dan told himself. "Wait till you see what Marta and the developers work out today."