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Essential Tips for Meeting a Deadline

Managing Expectations
Deadlines
Embracing Failures

19 July, 2021

Bogdan Chebac
Bogdan Chebac

Engineering Growth Manager at Talon.One

Bogdan Chebac, Engineering Manager at Gorgias, shares how he managed to work under the pressure of tight deadlines and maintain high standards of work.

Problem

Joining a new company could be daunting, and when given to handle a brownfield project, it could be pivotal for your success. The good part in my case was that it was an ongoing project, picked up by the previous manager, which was running relatively smoothly. So, what becomes the problem when everything is running smoothly? The deadline we were going to miss based on the expectations that were set previously.

There were two types of projects:

  • One was where our team acted as a service and got paid for it. It was for an infinite time as we kept developing for them.
  • Another one was fixed price projects, where they spend a certain amount of money by a specific date. The challenge for our team was straight forward: we needed to get the application done by a certain date with the budget in mind.

When I came in, I quickly realized that we were going to miss our deadline and that we would not meet our clients’ expectations. In all honesty, it was kind of impossible to meet the deadlines in the team that was originally estimated. However the team was very capable and had lots of experience with the tools they were using.. The project was ongoing for more than 2 years, which made it clear that we had a long-established relationship with the client.

Actions taken

Firstly, I notified the leadership within my company, meaning my manager, the account manager for the project and other senior management related to it. After discussing with the team and the senior management, we came up with a solution that it was best to notify the client as soon as possible about the situation. Therefore, we were doing less work than we initially committed to, prioritizing what we had finished.

Since the project had been ongoing for a lengthy period of time, my company placed a leap of faith in me by delegating the communication with the client to me. Moreover, the client was under the impression that we were coming together as rock solid, as we always did. Unfortunately, it was not the case; we were about 50 percent done with the project and 80 percent ran out of time. The Delivery Manager at that point was overestimating the capacity and the conflict; I had to use the remaining 20 percent of the time to do the chunk of the work that was left. It was not supposed to happen, yet the manager did not think it would be an issue for which he decided to put his blind trust into the team and proceed.

I did not completely give up, or ignore the deadline. I worked towards it, even though it felt a little impossible. I talked to the team and came up with different options, one of which was to bring developers from another team. Some of my developers were working a little overtime, which I really wanted to avoid. Given the situation, I appreciated their efforts. Although the team was a little worried about the situation, they kept on keeping on. However, once I saw their feedback, I tried to work on other possible options to make their lives easier.

Last but not least, we suggested to our clients that by the end of the deadline, we would have the most important features ready. Therefore, we placed our topmost priority to the ones that were highlighted by the client, and the rest, we tackled as we went by. In the end, we did shift some of our work until the deadline and managed to deliver the features that were needed to release the MVP to have a successful launch. Afterward, we worked on the remaining parts one by one to meet our clients expectations.

Lessons learned

Everyone fails; therefore, I believe that people need to know where the proper lessons are learned and sold. People at the end of the day Discover experiences by getting better, and this is how you learn. Some examples below entails my lessons from the experience:

  • Me and my team learned a lot about engagement regarding project management. Make sure that you have the proper estimations and no overestimation. It does not matter if you work for the same company or the same client for ten years. Keep a constant check to meet your deadlines and that you are going to do that in time. Work according to your planning because people might get overconfident or might get very relaxed and chilled at some point just because they have been doing this for a long time out.
  • When in confusion, reach out for help. If we as a team had realized the deadline situation sooner, we would have been able to deliver everything on time. The sooner people know about that roadblock, the better because then they have a chance to deal with it.
  • Never give up. We were already at risk of breaching the deadline did not mean that we had to stop our work. Under the contract, look for alternatives. See if you can bring in additional personnel, reduce the scope and check whether the client has some suggestions to provide with. The idea of not giving up will show them that you are still there and not giving up. Out of this whole situation, we came out better. The reason was the client felt that even in harsh conditions, we were next to them.

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