Documentation under time pressure: the Case of the Threatening Penalty Clause

An industrial company had built both the hardware and the software for an external customer who needed to run a gas field in the desert. Producing the documentation specified in the contract proved more difficult than foreseen. All of a sudden the delivery date was looming. The contract contained a hefty penalty clause.

What was achieved

The contract specified quite clearly what we needed to achieve. The challenge was to do the work before time ran out. In time (although only just!), the system was delivered together with full documentation which met contractual requirements.

What it took

We came in for talks just after lunch and simply stayed on to start the project without delay. A documentation project team was formed consisting of a tester, a hardware engineer, a software designer and the Byte Ryte consultant. The next morning the scope was defined, instruction was given and tasks were assigned. That afternoon the first bits were produced.

Ignoring the time pressure, much discussion took place in order to really lay the foundations. In parallel, lines of communication were opened throughout the organization. After a number of days in which all involved worked at full capacity for long hours, the deadline was met.