Tips and Tools for Crunch Mode: Managing the Dynamic
Ah, crunch mode. That period of the project, usually starting during test execution, where people begin to suspect that the project team might not meet the schedule, the project might exceed budget, the system under test might not meet the desired level of quality, or not all the features might make it in. If you are unlucky, crunch mode might entail two, three, or all four of these problems.
If you've been through a test project once or twice, you know that a project in crunch mode is both hectic and confusing: facts prove elusive, plans change, and previously unknown dependencies emerge to delay and impede tasks. To some extent, the planning, preparation, and structured information gathering I've recommended in previous chapters can help you alleviate these problems. However, test execution is always a challenge, and you can't document your way out of whatever amount of chaos exists elsewhere in the project, because it will naturally leak into the test project.
This chapter offers two new tools specifically geared toward managing the goat rodeos that can consume your life during test execution. One is a logistics database that tracks the locations, configurations, and test requirements for hardware, software, infrastructure, and staff. The other is a simple change management database that helps you respond to the inevitable course corrections, both smooth and jerky, that occur on any test project. First, though, ...