Just then, Jane knocked at his office door. Marilou was peering over Jane's shoulder. "Come in, both of you. Have a seat."
The women joined Dan at his small conference table. "What's on your mind?" Dan asked.
Marilou spoke first. "I wanted to show you the documentation and Help files and see if you have any last-minute suggestions."
"And I'd like a project update to give to Jim and put on the intranet, but I didn't want to bother Marta or Tim," added Jane. "They both look pretty wound up."
"They're both under a lot of pressure right now," said Dan. "I'm afraid Marta is losing some of her newfound faith in our development team. The testers logged a set of bugs against the new server that no one can pinpoint." He looked at Marilou. "But that doesn't keep the rest of us from doing our jobs, huh? Let me see what you've got."
He flipped through Marilou's documents. "This is really good stuff, Marilou. Well organized, good use of screen shots, looks attractive. Great work!" He knew Marilou, with her background in technical writing and desktop publishing, would be able to put together excellent documentation for the project.
Dan continued to admire the documentation while Jane and Marilou waited silently for his final verdict. "I think this is good to go," Dan said finally. "My only concern is that you might want to wait until we reach the zero-bug interim milestone. That way, we can be fairly sure that we're not going to have to rip something out of these docs to take care of a bug."
"Good point. I'll tell the print shop to hold it for a day or so."
Jane looked worried. "Is it that much of an issue, Dan? One, I don't want to be the person to tell Jim. And two, our users won't like hearing that there's a delay."
"You don't need to say anything to anyone," Dan replied, "I'm a big believer in openness, but I also don't think it's wise to share either failures or successes on a development project until the project's finished. Sharing too much information can put false ideas in people's heads." Although managing customer and user expectations were fundamental to Jane's and Marilou's roles on the team, he didn't want either group to get alarmed. "Nobody needs to be told anything at this point. We should wait until we have something definite to tell them, or until we have to slip the schedule. If we ship the product late, at least we'll be shipping a bug-free product."
"I'm just telling people now that we're working to make sure the product has the best possible performance, and that seems to satisfy them for the time being," Marilou said. "Of course, if we have to change the feature set or slip the schedule substantially, we'll have to give them more details."
Dan nodded. "Agreed." He looked at Jane. "As for Jim, I would simply tell him that we've got a bug or two we're still working on, and we'll keep him posted." Dan knew that Jim would probably appreciate a brief update, considering that he was filling the demanding roles of both CFO and COO.
"Sounds good," Jane said. As they got up and walked toward Dan's door, she added, "Oh, and one more thing. Since we're not meeting as much while Test-ing and Development are pushing for the finish, I feel really uninformed. What's left?"
Dan pointed to a chart on his wall. "Basically, once we reach zero-bug release, we'll do a final internal release to make sure we're happy with the installation routine. We'll also do some intensive final testing. Then, we'll take the release candidate and run it on another set of user computers. We'll have the users work through the testing scripts that Marta and Mike wrote. Assuming no one finds any new bugs, and also assuming we've kept the bug list at zero and dealt with all risks in the Risk Assessment Document, we'll have a meeting to decide whether or not we're at the Release Milestone. If so, we'll declare RMS to be at Final Release, and Tim and his crew will do the roll-out."
"The physical roll-out," corrected Marilou. "We'll still have to do the business and logistical roll-outs."
"True," said Dan, smiling. "Thanks for reminding me."
"I thought I saw one more step on the project plan," put in Jane. "A project review, is it?"
Dan nodded, but before he could provide any more details on the project plan's final step, Marta and Tim walked up. Tim looked defeated, but Marta was agitated and distressed.
"Let's get out of here," Jane whispered, grabbing Marilou's arm and leading her hastily away.