Consulting 101: Working Around an Unreasonable Deadline

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September 24, 2018

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2016Client expeCTations don’t always meet up with reality in the consulting business. So what do you do when a client expeCTs the projeCT you were hired for to be finished much sooner than is possible? Here are 4 steps for handling an unrealistic deadline. We have all been handed tasks or […]

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Last Updated: Sep 28, 2016
Client expectations don’t always meet up with reality in the consulting business. So what do you do when a client expects the project you were hired for to be finished much sooner than is possible? Here are 4 steps for handling an unrealistic deadline.

We have all been handed tasks or projects or consulting requests with deadlines that just didn’t seem possible. It’s frustrating ful, but it’s how quick we can think, what steps we set in motion to try to remedy the mess we’ve been handed of found ourselves in, and how we chose to move forward that ends up really defining how the engagement is going to go, and probably whether we will ever do business with this client again.

One software customization and implementation project I took on a few years ago had a 180 day go live date. I immediately stated that I didn’t believe that was possible. My team after some detailed analysis fully agreed. But the customer one of the big players in aviation had already committed to a firm rollout date that was 6 months out through several highly visible press releases to major aviation sites and publications. So, based on that infation having been shared internationally, there wasn’t much that could be changed the implementation date wasn’t really movable.

Consulting Series:

ven a situation like or similar to the one I laid out above, what do you do? For starters, you may want to have a nice long conversation with the account manager or sales guy who closed the deal and for some crazy reason gave the customer the idea that 180 days was a possible deadline to meet (so hopefully it will never happen again). But THEN what do you do?

Here’s what I did and, in , the steps I took:

Reset customer expectations. First, if you there may be a problem with the deadline, address that with the project client as soon as you possibly can. You don’t have to say “We absolutely can’t meet that deadline,” but it’s ok to ve them a heads-up that you forsee their set-in-stone deadline as a potential problem.

Figure out what can be moved to “next phase.” This should always be your next step in discussions with the client. Usually, on just about any engagement, there are the immediate “must haves” and the secondary “nice to haves.” Negotiate to move enough of those “nice to haves” out to a later phase so that the “must have” functionality can be ready within the required or promised window on the project schedule. The key is to try not to force your client into paying more to get what they need by the deadline. They should still get all of the functionality they were promised for the same price if at all possible even if it takes two projects to get there.

through the holidays and add staff. Finally, do whatever it takes to get it done if at all possible by the deadline orinally promised. For me on the aviation project it meant taking my team to Phoenix over Christmas for two weeks to speed up the final and roll through user acceptance testing and be ready on time for go-live. It wasn’t a memorable holiday in the good sense, but we made it. And at least to some degree, I think the customer appreciated it.

Summary

It’s never fun being faced with something you simply believe can not be accomplished. At least not without some major restructuring and negotiation, possibly some lost revenue or free , or a frustrated customer who may not want to do business with you again. You just have to keep the lines of flowing, be upfront and honest about your concerns and negotiate with the client’s satisfaction in mind. It’s not a time to be selfish. Think of it more as a time of ving, than taking away. 

© 2016 Attard s, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard s, Inc.

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution er and IT/PM consultant and author of A Real World Project Manager’s Guide to the Successful Project. He has over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative , Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, , Non-profit, High-Tech, Enneering and IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at www.bradegeland.com.

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Last Updated: Sep 28, 2016Client expectations don’t always meet up with reality in the consulting business. So what do you do when a client expects the project you were hired for to be finished much sooner than is possible? Here are 4 steps for handling an unrealistic deadline. We have all been handed tasks or […]

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How To Really REALIZE DREAMS COME TRUE?

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