An SbR reader contacted me looking for guidance on how to work with a group of un-motivated developers; his email is below (posted with permission).
I will post my reply next Monday, after giving you a chance to weigh in on the situation.
Q: “In the course of providing Change Management consulting services to an owner operated company, I got involved in trying to find out what was happening in their IT department (4 Software Engineers). They are all on salary with full benefits.
The IT Departments absolute priority is to insure the company’s current software and network system is operational. In general the current company system only requires minimal daily maintenance with periodic planned upgrades. Accordingly the Software Developers are able to focus the majority of their time on development of a new ERP software system.
They have been at the project for approximately 5 years. Design is complete and development is underway. After much discussion and prodding I managed to get them to produce a timeline to deployment versus completion. Deployment defined as being able to switch from using the current system to the new system with a minimum of equal functionality to the current system. The timeline is to a specific date versus effort in months. They arrived at the deployment via sophisticated process versus an educated guess so I believe it is realistic.
In my view stakeholders must have a deployment date and developers need a realistic deadline. We have our deployment date (set by the developers, not stakeholders) but I suspect they are not committed to it. They start at 8:00 am on the dot and are out the door at 5:00 pm. Lunch and coffee breaks are never missed. My concern is that they have been spoiled by not previously having a definitive deployment date so it is expected to balk at accountability.
My instinct is to shut the project down but I also do not like to give up.
[I’m looking for] direction on how to motivate this group to want to take ownership and to rise to the challenge of meeting the deployment date.”
If you were in his shoes, how would you handle this situation?