Intensity: life at the end of a project

I’m working on a project that was wrapping up this week. I could feel the tension and excitement building. While part of me is exhausted, part of me loves the finale.

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Our final round of testing was conducted in an offsite test lab with restricted access. I heard the remaining people on the project team (located elsewhere) were asking for updates. (One person on the team was designated to provide outside communication.) Apparently our updates were being listened to like a sports playoff.

The final round of testing; it’s our time.

I hear about final reports, post-mortem meetings, and other project wrap-up activities but I don’t hear people talk directly about the final round from the personal perspective of excitement, tension, exhaustion, and exhilaration. Maybe at the end we’re too tired to talk?

There was one moment in particular this week when I looked up from my work and noticed our test lab. Every person and piece of equipment in the lab was humming; everyone knew what to do and how important the work we had to accomplish was. In many ways it has been a “typical” project in that we’d had changes a long the way – in fact an unexpected curve ball thrown at the team just weeks before. But we’d devised a new plan, adjusted, and kept going. And we’d had moments of agitating each other too but that’s also normal. We are human and at times we all annoy each other.

I’ve worked on enough projects to know that this one will be one of the best experiences I’ve been through. The team work has been impressive. It’s a great feeling to work in a highly functioning team and to be part of a successful project.

(I would talk about how interesting and cool the product is but due to NDA restrictions, I will bypass any product details.)

I often think it you can’t deal with the end of a project and all the intensity that typically comes with the end, then testing isn’t for you. I know this sounds rude but it’s true. Testing is continually part of the intensity at the end. Some of us actually enjoy that intensity – at least enough of the time to keep repeating the cycle.

So I have to laugh because I know the next part of the cycle (after I get some sleep, eat a few hot meals, and catch up with friends). I will find new work. I’ll be learning a new product or searching fervently for information on a technology I have limited or possibly no experience with. Why? Because I avoid project work where I’m not learning something new, there has to be at least one challenge in a project to provide that thrill. I’ll go through the process of learning and move onto becoming knowledgeable and more usable. The project will ramp up, the testing will eventually hit the busy cycle, and the end will come again. And so the cycle goes.

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