If there’s one thing that most people agree on is that management often has unrealistic expectations of a project’s delivery schedule and budget. The problem is that many project managers keep quiet and accept the expectations that are pushed on them without saying anything.
They end up working themselves and their team to the bone, but are still unable to meet said expectations and deliver mediocre results because they’re rushed through the project. For this reason, it is imperative you communicate with management and make your case if you feel they are being unreasonable.
Remember, the key to convincing management you are right is to provide evidence. Don’t just say you can’t do it within the budget and timeframe they stipulate. This sounds like you don’t want to do it. It doesn’t show them that you are speaking from experience.
Instead, analyze the costs and time it will take for you to actually complete the project. Prove to the management, on paper, why the project can’t possibly be completed how they want it done.
Expect the management to try and negotiate, so give yourself some room. It’s better to overestimate the time it will take for you to complete a particular activity or task than to underestimate it. Give yourself a buffer for the allocated budget and timeframe to ensure you don’t have any issues later down the line.
It is always a good idea to have considered alternatives prior to meeting management. If and when they start to negotiate you are in a position to put other options on the table. These could be to offer a phased approach, a promise to implement critical outcomes within their timeframe and then the others afterwards, or a reduced or modified scope option that could be implemented within their time and budget constraints.
It is important here to hold strong. Show guts and be assertive. The person in that meeting who negotiates with management has the wellbeing of the whole project team in their hands.
If you are not able to come to a satisfactory conclusion about the outcome and management won’t change their expectations, then fight back. Use your project management tools to the best of their ability. Raise high-level risks on day one and don’t be afraid to make it a recorded issue. Communicate these on your status reports and report your project as red (in trouble) or amber (heading for trouble). You will be amazed how a big red circle on a status report can
catch the eye of the right person.
You can get more great tips on Project Success in The Ultimate Project Success Guide, yours FREE to download now!
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