Five Ways to Handle Unrealistic Deadlines

Five Ways to Handle Unrealistic Deadlines

The Blue Book Network® is proud to announce the latest post in a series by our industry experts. The following content has been created by Caroline Shelly, of HF Planners, LLC, a Blue Book Network® Premier Member.

The Facility Manager is cut from heroic cloth. Due to the nature of the profession, FMs are often expected to perform miracles under strict time constraints. However, when you continuously perform miracles, the end user starts to believe they are no longer miracles, but expected events. So how does the Facility Manager educate the end user on what constitutes a realistic deadline? Here are five ways to curtail unrealistic deadline expectations.

1. Determine the business need.

What is the impetus to move at top speed to meet an unrealistic date? Has upper management agreed in writing, to move out of a current lease agreement and into new space? If so, what are the hard dates, the financial impact on the business, and (aside from the Facilities department), what other business units will be most affected and need to be consulted in order to meet the date? Typically Procurement, IT, and Security departments will need to accept the schedule and confirm that their vendors can support the new initiative.

2. Understand the scope of work.

Everyone involved with the project must grasp the scope of work and how it affects power needs, time commitment, and finances. Headaches arise if communication hasn’t been clear regarding project plan, lead-times, and vendor coordination.

3. Identify the core team.

Each project should have a core group that helps to set expectations. If deadlines are set, then each group needs to relay what is required to meet the deadline. For example, it may be necessary to add more people to the project, allow overtime to get tasks done. It is important to set a strong schedule and making sure everyone adheres to it.

4. Schedule.

The core group should meet at least weekly to review the schedule and identify issues that may affect the deadline. Milestones should be set. For instance, a construction time frame, delivery of furniture (new and/or old), and installation of telephone and data wiring. One item on the schedule that will have major time constraints is new furniture. Furniture that needs to be manufactured for the project will have long lead-times. Missed dates can result in low quality work, poor morale, additional cost impact, and the loss of respect for management.

5. Budget Development.

There is an old saying in budgeting: “What is more important: fast, good, or cheap? Pick two.” You cannot have all three at the same time. Something will have to give. It may be the quality of the product, the price may skyrocket, or the schedule will slip. Any of these will impact the budget. Additionally, as actual pricing comes in it is important to update the budget and keep everyone involved informed of the changes.

To avoid unrealistic deadlines, it is important to set expectations up front and educate all the parties involved to help make these important business decisions. Unrealistic deadlines create all kinds of headaches. The solution for the Facility Manager is to be responsible for helping to guide the process, develop the schedule, form budgetary requirements, and set the tone to upper management.

How do you deal with unrealistic deadlines? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Pingback: 3 Rules for Keeping Management on Project Deadlines

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