Business tips

Consulting 101: Working Round an Unreasonable Deadline

by Brad Egeland

Final Up to date: Oct 31, 2018
Consumer expectations do not at all times meet up with actuality within the consulting enterprise. So what do you do when a shopper expects the undertaking you had been employed for to be completed a lot ahead of is feasible? Listed here are four steps for dealing with an unrealistic deadline.

dealing with unrealistic deadlines
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We now have all been handed duties or tasks or consulting requests with deadlines that simply did not appear attainable. It is frustratingly painful, nevertheless it’s how fast we are able to suppose, what steps we set in movement to attempt to treatment the mess we have been handed or discovered ourselves in, and the way we selected to maneuver ahead that finally ends up actually defining how the engagement goes to go, and doubtless whether or not we’ll ever do enterprise with this shopper once more.

One software program customization and implementation undertaking I took on a couple of years in the past had a 180 day go stay date. I instantly said that I did not imagine that was attainable. My crew – after some detailed evaluation – absolutely agreed. However the buyer – one of many massive gamers in aviation – had already dedicated to a agency rollout date that was 6 months out via a number of extremely seen press releases to main aviation websites and publications. So, primarily based on that data having been shared internationally, there wasn’t a lot that may very well be modified – the implementation date wasn’t actually movable.

Consulting 101 Sequence

Given a state of affairs to the one I laid out above, what do you do? For starters, chances are you’ll wish to have a pleasant lengthy dialog with the account supervisor or gross sales man who closed the deal and for some loopy motive gave the shopper the concept 180 days was a attainable deadline to fulfill (so hopefully it would by no means occur once more). However THEN what do you do?

Here is what I did and, typically, the steps I took:

Reset buyer expectations. First, in case you suspect there could also be an issue with the deadline, tackle that with the undertaking shopper as quickly as you probably can. You do not have to say “We completely cannot meet that deadline,” nevertheless it’s okay to present them a heads-up that you simply forsee their set-in-stone deadline as a possible downside.

Work out what could be moved to “subsequent section.” This could at all times be the next move in discussions with the shopper. Normally, on nearly any engagement, there are the fast “necessities” and the secondary “good to haves.” Negotiate to maneuver sufficient of these “good to haves” out to a later section in order that the “will need to have” performance could be prepared inside the required or promised window on the undertaking schedule. The bottom line is to strive to not pressure your shopper into paying extra to get what they want by the deadline. They need to nonetheless get all the performance they had been promised for a similar worth if in any respect attainable – even when it takes two tasks to get there.

Work via the vacations and add employees. Lastly, do no matter it takes to get it completed – if in any respect attainable – by the deadline initially promised. For me – on the aviation undertaking – it meant taking my crew to Phoenix over Christmas for 2 weeks to hurry up the ultimate work and roll via person acceptance testing and be prepared on time for go-live. It wasn’t a memorable vacation within the good sense, however we made it. And no less than to a point, I feel the shopper appreciated it.


It is by no means enjoyable being confronted with one thing you merely imagine cannot be completed. A minimum of not with out some main restructuring and negotiation, probably some misplaced income or free work, or a pissed off buyer who could not wish to do enterprise with you once more. You simply must hold the traces of communication flowing, be upfront and trustworthy about your considerations and negotiate with the shopper’s satisfaction in thoughts. It is not a time to be egocentric. Consider it extra as a time of giving, than taking away. 

© 2016 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Is probably not reproduced, reprinted or redistributed with out written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

Brad Egeland is a Enterprise Resolution Designer and IT/PM guide and writer of A Actual World Venture Supervisor’s Information to the Profitable Venture. He has over 25 years of software program improvement, administration, and undertaking administration expertise main initiatives in Manufacturing, Authorities Contracting, Artistic Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Begin-ups, Healthcare, Larger Training, Non-profit, Excessive-Tech, Engineering and common IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and residing in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Go to Brad’s web site at



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