As Project Managers, we often have to perform with a fixed schedule. This type of situation can occur for almost any project or industry, but it is a special issue in the software industry when we want to meet monthly, quarterly, or other periodic release schedules. Here are my top 5 tips for successfully managing the risk and meeting the deadline:
1) Be sure there is a project charter for each release, with the high level time, resources, budget, and deliverables scoped out. Factor in time off for vacation early since this can have a big impact if it comes as a surprise later. Any surprises warrant an immediate review.
2) Regularly review delivery metrics. Use experience to improve estimating and the ability to meet targets. Build an incentive/recognition plan around achieving superior metrics (not just meeting the target).
3) Count on product and project management being between 5% and 20% of your schedule -- this rule of thumb will help make sure you don't...