"This deadline is unrealistic."
Interpretation. When a staff member says this, it means that person was not included in the planning of the project. Assumptions were made and inadequate schedule estimating was done (if such estimating occurred at all). An external event is probably driving the scope and choice of an end date. This statement can become commonplace in organizations that engage solely in projects that are by nature difficult to estimate, such as research projects. Although such projects belong in the portfolio, too many of them can use up resources that could be delivering tangible and immediate value to the organization. Any number of aberrant responses can occur in response to this situation—for example, project team members avoid or prematurely leave the project (ensuring failure), or dedicated team members heroically resolve to do "whatever it takes" to make the project succeed (causing burnout, demoralization, and quality problems). Expect the client to be disappointed with the inevitable results.
Solution. There is an immutable fact of systems development: a truly accurate estimate of duration is not possible prior to completion of design. Before this, a reasonably accurate estimate is possible following the requirements stage using various estimating techniques available to project managers. The PPM governing body can adopt the position that the facts of a project should dictate its duration and outline the options that exist when hard deadlines are unavoidable (for example, allow compromises in scope or quality). The PPM governing body can sanction responsible project estimation by not requiring commitments prior to completion of design and by encouraging the use of effective estimating techniques. The governing body can also ensure the selection of a proper mix of open-ended and well-bounded projects. The PPM governing body can establish metrics tracking of planned versus actual delivery data to confirm the effectiveness of estimating techniques.
Benefit. Deadlines will be met because they are based on accurate estimating. Predictable delivery of tactical initiatives will be balanced with more open-ended initiatives having long-term promise. Morale will increase because those charged with executing projects are able to provide input into the estimation process. The uncon-structive behaviors noted will be avoided.
• Solicit PPM support for (1) responsible estimating, (2) project redefinition procedures, (3) metrics tracking of delivery-related information, and (4) a balanced mix of projects.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.