Project Management – The Art Of Managing Expectations

We all work to deadlines, well most of us anyway. Truth is, a lot of times those deadlines are  self imposed, other times they are required to be met because an external force is in operation.

I’m always willing to move a deadline backwards if the proper, agreed upon testing has not been completed. This is especially important when the system is mission critical. The problem is without a hard deadline, i.e. an external force, could be a service agreement termination, change of host, whatever it is but an outside, beyond our control type scenario (I hope you get the picture here…), without a hard deadline a project delivery date can quite easily slip backwards. This is often due to the requirement of testing to be performed and completed before roll-out.

I find myself managing two projects that are in the testing phase now. One is late, well not actually late but ongoing in testing mode awaiting sign-off. This is a nasty place to be but I have to sit tight, grin and bear it while the test process continues until the customer is happy and willing to sign-off. The problem is cashflow, I don’t get paid until we finish, but I can bear that and am willing to do so until the customer has completed their testing. In this case I’m managing their expectations by not trying to hurry them, speed up their internal test process or ask them to sign-off.

In the second case, my customers development team has been delayed and the project plan delivery date is this coming Monday. There are at least 1 days worth of development and another day of testing required by them before we have completed the plan. The customer now wants to rush the final development and testing so that we can deliver on time. In this case there is also no external driver and I’ve allowed the customer to slip back because of other deadlines they are trying to meet. However, I’m not willing to sign-off until they have completed their development and testing. This is a tricky situation but I will have to manage their expectations by not signing-off on the plan, it is unfortunately unfinished. No doubt we will push back a couple days, get all our ducks in a row and roll out on Wednesday next week? We’ll see…

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