I’d Never Lie—Would I?

May 23, 2016



I’d Never Lie—Would I?

You manage a software development group which has a multi-year project. It’s been one disaster after another. The first year, the client kept changing the specs. By the time that was sorted, you were almost six weeks behind. In the second year, the programmers ran into all kinds of problems not foreseen by the (now fired) systems architect. The programming started almost three months late. However, some simplification of the Years Three to Five plans should get you back on track by mid-Year Five.

But the mid-term review is coming up. You meet with your boss, Rhonda, to discuss.

Rhonda: Paul, I’m really worried about your report.
You: I know it looks bad now but we can catch up by Year Five.
Rhonda: But what if the executive committee doesn’t buy that? They’ll shut us down. Which means lay-offs. All your guys, I’d expect.
You: (desperately) I’m sure we can make up the time. We just need the rest of the funding.
Rhonda: I’ve got to take something more positive to the executive committee. Otherwise, we can kiss both our careers good-bye.

You leave the meeting frustrated and, truth to tell, more than a little scared. The company is on a cost reduction drive. If they cancel the project, they’ll save a lot. But how could you get a new job with this disaster on your resume?

You pull up the progress report. Your recovery plan should work. You just need to get the second half money!

You go to your subordinate Becky’s desk.

You: Becky, could you run projections assuming we can make up the work in two months?
Becky: But we’re behind three.
You: I just want to see what the numbers look like. And while you’re at it, do six weeks too.
Becky: I can but I don’t see the point.
You: (vaguely) Yeah, but you know executives. They want the figures every which way.

The next day, you open the new projections. Damn! Even using two months, the overruns are alarming. The six-week spread sheet looks better. Still an overrun but not so bad. After all, executive committees aren’t techies. If they get spooked by large projected overruns, they won’t listen to the mitigation plans.

You prepare the report using the six-week projections. All the time, you’re reminding yourself how many jobs are riding on this, not to mention your career. You’re ready to send it to Rhonda for the executive committee.

Should you push the SEND button?

I’ll spend the next post on YES and the one after on NO.

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