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13.6. THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

You've been handed a deadline and budget that are impossible. When you tried to tell the managers that it was not realistic, they started talking about "can-do attitudes." How will you handle this situation?

  • Statement of work. Be extremely clear about the project's purpose, scope, and deliverables. Make sure that the scope and deliverables are really necessary to accomplish the purpose. Learn all the schedule and cost penalties.

  • Project plan. Putting on your best can-do attitude, develop at least three options for what can be done. You must be able to demonstrate the trade-offs available to the managers. Then, recommend the option that seems to match their cost-schedule-quality priorities. Figure out the maximum number of people you can usefully apply to the project, using the network diagram and resource spreadsheet. Then look for the schedule adjustments that will bring the greatest cost reductions. Finally, use a crash table to analyze the most cost-effective tasks to compress.

  • Risk management. Because this project will have risks that affect both cost and/or schedule, you will need to perform risk assessments at both the high level and the detail level to find your danger points. You can then take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk, including frequent monitoring and watching for new risks.

  • Status reports. If you are attempting to meet a schedule that you believe is impossible, don't give up on changing your stakeholders' expectations. Let them know with every status report how diligently the team is striving to meet the goals and what the actual progress is. Raise the alarm frequently that if early progress is an indicator, actual cost and schedule performance won't match the plan. They may not believe you the first time, but as the evidence builds that this is a well-managed project that was underestimated, they will be forced to come to terms with reality.


  

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