Product Myth #2 — Timelines Hurt Engineering Teams.

Product Mythology 

A series of blog posts outlining commonly-heard myths from the product community.

Product development has historically been much more of an art than a science. In turn, the way the product vertical operates often feels more like putting out fires than running a successful team. Because of its artistic nature, the vertical as a whole has done a large, collective shoulder shrug in determining how to solve many of the problems that face it:

  1. Poor estimation of work
  2. Inability to set reliable expectations
  3. Lack of predictability across the entire product development process

Cardagraph has set out to solve these problems. Join us as we debunk a couple of the most widespread product myths!

Product Myth #2: Timelines hurt dev teams.

Proper timelines should give alignment, not ulcers. 

One consistent fear I hear from many of the product leaders I talk with is the fear of putting a due date or deadline in front of a dev team. They contend that a deadline is the kiss of death for developer productivity. 

The most common idea behind this is due to the stress that a deadline induces. But that’s not the way timelines should work! A couple of thoughts on how to make those timelines work FOR you, not AGAINST you.

Firstly, I’d point out that non-dev teams have been built on and become successful with deadlines, quotas, baselines, requirements and all kinds of other stressors. 

Stress has been proven to both motivate and have positive effects as long as it’s not extreme or constant.

A deadline becomes a positive stressor when you have the ability to meet it. The biggest problem I see comes when you start to feel helpless and like a timeline is impossible to meet. Then the stress introduced by that deadline starts to be harmful. 

So deadline stress isn’t a problem if you can make sure the deadline is actually achievable. It comes back to the expectation setting.

At this point, it’s important that we recognize the difference between a deadline and a timeline. Deadlines ≠ timelines. 

Deadlines are often objective, unnecessary pressure points that stress out the team. 

Timelines however are how a business runs. 

Timelines are used by other verticals in decision-making and planning. They’re relied on by sales, marketing, finance, and others to grow and be successful.

That means that missing timelines (not arbitrary deadlines) is not an option for the product team. 

Arbitrary deadlines don’t matter. Timelines that allow proper organization alignment are necessary for success.

Make sure that you’re setting the right expectations for your product teams to properly align the business, not to set up the organization for failure and your own teams for undue, unhelpful stress.

Predictability is the goal of our platform at Cardagraph. For too long, product has been setting itself up to fail because estimations are flawed and the inputs that you need to factor into a calculation like this are both hard to get to and hard to use.

Cardagraph takes the required inputs from ticketing tools and automatically calculates reasonable expectations. Then, as you work towards that projected completion date, it keeps you in the loop as to when the project is off-track and allows you to create simulations of what would happen if you made changes to scope or resources. 

Instead of making guesses based on assumptions, set expectations based on reality. 

Jordan Hale

Director of Growth

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