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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 consumer expects the venture you had been employed for to be completed a lot before is feasible? Listed below are four steps for dealing with an unrealistic deadline.

dealing with unrealistic deadlines
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We’ve got 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 are going to ever do enterprise with this consumer once more.

One software program customization and implementation venture I took on a couple of years in the past had a 180 day go stay date. I instantly acknowledged that I did not consider that was attainable. My crew – after some detailed evaluation – totally agreed. However the buyer – one of many massive gamers in aviation – had already dedicated to a agency rollout date that was 6 months out by way of 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 could possibly 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, you might need to have a pleasant lengthy dialog with the account supervisor or gross sales man who closed the deal and for some loopy cause gave the client the concept 180 days was a attainable deadline to satisfy (so hopefully it should 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, should you suspect there could also be an issue with the deadline, deal with that with the venture consumer as quickly as you presumably 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 drawback.

Determine what may be moved to “subsequent part.” This could at all times be the next step in discussions with the consumer. Often, 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 part in order that the “will need to have” performance may be prepared inside the required or promised window on the venture schedule. The secret is to attempt to not drive your consumer into paying extra to get what they want by the deadline. They need to nonetheless get the entire performance they had been promised for a similar worth if in any respect attainable – even when it takes two tasks to get there.

Work by way of the vacations and add workers. Lastly, do no matter it takes to get it executed – if in any respect attainable – by the deadline initially promised. For me – on the aviation venture – it meant taking my crew to Phoenix over Christmas for 2 weeks to hurry up the ultimate work and roll by way of 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 a minimum of to a point, I feel the client appreciated it.


It is by no means enjoyable being confronted with one thing you merely consider can’t be achieved. At the very least not with out some main restructuring and negotiation, presumably some misplaced income or free work, or a annoyed buyer who might not need to do enterprise with you once more. You simply should preserve the traces of communication flowing, be upfront and trustworthy about your considerations and negotiate with the consumer’s satisfaction in thoughts. It isn’t a time to be egocentric. Consider it extra as a time of giving, than taking away. 

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

Brad Egeland is a Enterprise Answer Designer and IT/PM advisor and creator of A Actual World Venture Supervisor’s Information to the Profitable Venture. He has over 25 years of software program improvement, administration, and venture administration expertise main initiatives in Manufacturing, Authorities Contracting, Inventive Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Begin-ups, Healthcare, Greater Schooling, Non-profit, Excessive-Tech, Engineering and basic IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and dwelling in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Go to Brad’s website at

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