Are projects really always late?

Waterfall3Despite all advances in project management theory it seems that we can’t get out of a widespread perception that projects are always late. Delivering late has become so expected that stakeholders actually plan around it. They insist they want the project delivered by a certain date, even if that date is unrealistic. Of course, since the expected delivery date is unrealistic, the project is late.

Asking the stakeholders to set a more realistic date is futile because they believe that if they relax the time constraint, the project will be even more late. So they purposefully squeeze the deadlines to pressure the project team to rush through the project as fast as they can, most likely at the cost of quality.

And then, after much anguish and working late nights by the project team, when the project is finally completed, late by several magnitudes of scale, it is declared successful. And that is supposed to be successful? When the project is delivered late and the project team is burned out? Of course it’s successful, no one wants to take the responsibility to declare a project unsuccessful.

So what was the point of the initial urgency to deliver in unrealistic time constraints? When it’s a success even when it comes in late? Sometimes you just can’t compete with common sense.

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