Sonomi wrote:As a manager, you should absolutely write a contingency plan into your schedule that allows core features to make it to production. This can be done through adding a week or two buffer for every single thing that needs to get done,
I would've added this in the tips too, if it'd work. However, I did add a fluff week for S&Y (Yes, a whole buffer week for a month long development project.) and it didn't do squat.
I agree that there really isn't a whole lot of wiggle room in such a tight deadline of 4 weeks. Based upon what you shared, extra time may not work for everyone. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to at least consider what could go wrong and slot away time to handle such matters in a collaboration with other people.
If there is ever a lack of respect, especially for your time, I feel it is a good idea to address that with the individual or remove them from the team if that route was not effective.
If there's a deadline, it can be difficult to throw out people who don't make their deadlines. Unfortunately, game development is not black and white enough to say that in all cases. While this would indeed be the best thing to do, tough choice as it is, there can always be circumstances that can cause difficulties. Throw them out too soon and you'll be cruel, wait too long and a back-up can't help you in time. It's a rather hard thing to do in real life, so keep the fire button in mind but know it won't be easy even if you do have the thick skin to fire people.
You're right. It certainly can be a difficult decision to make. This is unfortunately one responsibility of a project manager. Ultimately, it is a manager's role to ensure that the project is moving along smoothly and on schedule. In my opinion, I wouldn't use the term "cruel" to describe firing someone, because that would mean there was no agonizing over the decision. Cruelty would entail a situation where you didn't discuss the matter to find common ground and simply announced, "You missed exactly one deadline. Sorry, but I have to fire you now." Not to be facetious, but this isn't the kind of situation that I'm describing!
You would and should absolutely try to work with the person in question before going that far, but what can you do when they will no longer contribute to the project and you are left with work that is not being completed?
Please don't misunderstand me; I am not heartless. I'm simply speaking from personal experience when I say all of this, because I have been involved in both successful and unsuccessful collaborations in the past. The common denominator in the success stories is communication. And lack of communication kills a project faster than anything. Not only that, but it puts a strain on the entire team because one of two things needs to happen: A) a replacement is found and they need to be brought up to speed, B) some poor member of the team has to handle a greater workload. Producers might have a rough job, but there is good reason behind making decisions like those.
Which leads me back to contingency...because you don't want the workload to spontaneously fall to anyone else on the team when someone does leave. Earlier in my original post, I mentioned this:
Sonomi wrote:...having backup volunteers who can take the reins if someone becomes unavailable, etc. Just overall being realistic about the fact that life happens and you need to plan ahead for hiccups with a vengeance.
That may or may not alleviate your concerns regarding replacements. Actors have understudies for this reason. The best thing I can equate this to is the Secret Santa event that was hosted on LSF last December. It was similar to NaNoRenO in terms of having a short deadline.
Everyone was assigned a partner. They were asked to post their gift by the end of the month; however, people also volunteered to make gifts on the off chance that someone dropped out or could not deliver by the deadline. This was a contingency plan that gave everyone a buffer and ensured results no matter what. In terms of communication, every participant was required to check in weekly. So the idea of having regular contact was also spot on.
I honestly don't know for sure, because I have never been a manager; I've only worked closely with
them. These are the things that I genuinely feel could have improved some of the situations we found ourselves in. As a docile person, I really don't
have a thick skin in real life and I would hesitate to fire anyone. At the same time, it doesn't help anyone to have team members who are not working on the project, and in those situations I would reach out first. If this goes nowhere, then it's time to make a decision. It's not personal; it's only a matter of productivity.
Mileage may vary! Nothing I've said here is disaster-proof...