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Communicating deadlines to the team, and celebrating when these are reached ..

During a particularly tense and long cycle of software development, we had regular milestones every month (similar to a 4 week Sprint cycle), although our development model was more iterative and less pure scrum. Now, the cycle was very tough since the amount of work expected out of the team during the course of the cycle was much more than what we would normally do. There were some goals that were set during the start of the development cycle, and the whole team had realized the importance of the cycle to the long term continuance of the product and had committed to the work required during the cycle.
Now all this was said at the start of the cycle, but practically the team was under a lot of pressure during the cycle, and this lead to a large amount of tension during the cycle. Even interactions between developers and testers which were otherwise playful during regular cycles, were more tense during the cycle with harsh words being exchanged once in a while (although the team members became normal soon after and there was no major emotional damage during the cycle).
So, once we came to the end of every month milestone, there was always some amount of dispute about what sort of communication should go out during the cycle. There was one school of thought that argued that since we were already sending out a list of tasks for the forthcoming week at the start of every week, it would be over-communicating to send out a detailed list of what was accomplished during the cycle (and this was emphasized during a discussion with a senior team members who admitted to not reading much of long emails unless the subject was relevant to them technically). On the other side, the opinion was that there was a lot of value in sending out such communication with details of what the team accomplished during the cycle, while keeping a positive spin overall.
The biggest advantage was that individual team members typically know details about what they were responsible for and were doing, and did not have the energy or the effort to be spending time to see how all the pieces joined together, especially when there was a heavy load on them. So, sending out a communication which details the work done during the cycle, along with links to demos helps in providing team members with a bigger picture, which has an overall beneficial effect. And, when you make these monthly details ready, they quickly help provide you with an updated picture of overall progress as the months move on. In one case, when we were asked to do a presentation to stakeholders at the end of a quarter, these monthly task summaries provided a great view that could be rolled upon for the quarterly one.

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