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Tight, Inflexible Deadlines: Scourge of Projects

November 07, 2007

Do You Have Deadlines?

Do your projects have unrealistically tight deadlines? Why? Where are your areas of flexibility? We’ve asked these questions for years of Executives, Project Management Office consultants, Program Managers, Project Managers and Team Members. All too often we hear that yes, many projects and programs do have deadlines, or unrealistic and inflexible dates by which they must be completed.

Defense Contractor Programs may have deadlines that coincide with September Federal year-ends—if a buyer needs to spend money before the year is over. Some project deadlines relate to calendar year-end cycles; others relate to slow periods, or to the calm before the retail storm for holiday seasons.

But in cases where individuals cannot cite the reason for the deadline, or when there appears to be no flexibility in other factors, such as more-available or more-skilled resources, or when funding and scope are also inflexible, unnecessary project risk results.

Inflexible deadlines may be evidence of frustrated Managers who feel they have no better way to control projects in their organization. They may be an attempt to cause the team to show the same sense of urgency Managers feel. Excessive use of deadlines in an Enterprise may result from a lack of communication or Management Malpractice—or both. Whatever the cause, it is not project competence.

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