My Thoughts on Deadlines

For years I struggled over the concept of deadlines and wondered why it was so very difficult to meet them. And then I realized that in order to meet deadlines for software / web development projects, you really need the commitment of both the developer and the customer. You can always move the deadline, but if that’s what you want to do, at least call them milestones.

Most people suck at managing projects

Most people have more than one project going at a time, and when one deadline is moved it moves the other ones (whether you want to admit this or not).

The odds of a large project finishing on time are close to zero. — From Rapid Development (Amazon)

Today I learned that close to 25% of all airline trips are late

Wow, that’s stunning. It just goes to show that most people are optimistic and can’t even predict when a project will be done. There are countless tools that exist today to try to facilitate creating accurate estimates, but most of them are useless because we are all so busy, and a million things impact our days, thus impacting our schedules.

If missing deadlines wasn’t enough, there is a horrible failure rate in software development projects. Some people say 5 – 15% of all projects fail.

Say no, do less

Tips on the gentle art of saying no. I’m not going to comment further since I’m really bad at this.

Throw deadlines out

Stop thinking you can accurately predict the future. Give your customers a realistic expectation that you can have their project done during a window of time. You’ll quickly find that most people don’t need an exact “delivery date” for their projects. Instead they just want to know progress is being made.

I’m not suggesting that it’s good to be late on your projects, just that you accept the fact that it’s nearly impossible to meet deadlines the way you’ve been going after them, and you should change your procedure.

The deadline dance is not always productive.

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Deadlines”

  1. Your Digg this widget must not work, It’s not showing your diggs and you already have 20. Anyways excellent article keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Shawn, the Digg this widget appears to only be working on the actual post page and not the homepage. I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.

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