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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 ahead of is feasible? Listed below are four steps for dealing with an unrealistic deadline.

dealing with unrealistic deadlines
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Now we have all been handed duties or tasks or consulting requests with deadlines that simply did not appear potential. It is frustratingly painful, but it surely’s how fast we will 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 number of years in the past had a 180 day go reside date. I instantly acknowledged that I did not consider that was potential. My crew – after some detailed evaluation – totally agreed. However the buyer – one of many large 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, based mostly on that info having been shared internationally, there wasn’t a lot that may very well be modified – the implementation date wasn’t actually movable.

Consulting 101 Collection

Given a scenario to the one I laid out above, what do you do? For starters, you could 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 client the concept that 180 days was a potential deadline to satisfy (so hopefully it can by no means occur once more). However THEN what do you do?

Here is what I did and, on the whole, the steps I took:

Reset buyer expectations. First, should you suspect there could also be an issue with the deadline, handle that with the venture consumer as quickly as you probably can. You do not have to say “We completely cannot meet that deadline,” but it surely’s okay to present them a heads-up that you just forsee their set-in-stone deadline as a possible downside.

Determine what may be moved to “subsequent part.” This could at all times be the next move in discussions with the consumer. Often, on nearly any engagement, there are the rapid “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 throughout 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 all the performance they had been promised for a similar value if in any respect potential – 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 finished – if in any respect potential – 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 via consumer 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 not less than to some extent, I believe the client appreciated it.


It is by no means enjoyable being confronted with one thing you merely consider cannot be achieved. Not less than 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 need to preserve the traces of communication flowing, be upfront and sincere about your considerations and negotiate with the consumer’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. Might not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed with out written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

Brad Egeland is a Enterprise Answer Designer and IT/PM guide and writer of A Actual World Mission Supervisor’s Information to the Profitable Mission. 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, Larger Schooling, Non-profit, Excessive-Tech, Engineering and common 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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