How to handle project going off the rails?

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This is kind of a banal story. I'm the lead developer on a "modernization" project that's taking a lot longer than anticipated (you see where this is going). The team is great, it's just that the work is way outside their comfort zone. The business has been selling the new version pretty hard and we're not going to make the release (about 3 months to go).
Question is; as a lead, how would you handle this? I think my direct manager has a healthy dose of skepticism about the timeline, but the product owner doesn't. At what point should I start sounding the alarm? I'd like to give it a couple of weeks and see if the team picks up pace but I'm not confident.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    You are the 'lead developer' - who set the timeline? Who promised something they could not deliver on time? Who is responsible for the timeline?

    The team isn't 'great' if they are not producing the work promised on the timeline promised. Did you overestimate the skill of the team or underestimate the work required...or are there valid reasons for the project falling behind? It's not unusual to have delays - but hoping to pick up the pace is not a good plan.

    The business has been selling the new version pretty hard and we're not going to make the release (about 3 months to go).
    By 'the business' - do you meant the product owner who hired the work done? If so, is he spending promotional funds on a launch that he believes is on time? I think most people who hire projects such as this know there's a chance of delay.



    I'm a fan of transparency - if you know the project will not be finished on the timeline planned - the sooner you alert the product owner, the better it will be for you and for them. At least let the person paying for the project know there is a good chance you will be late completing it.
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