You’re under intense pressure by senior management to launch a new customer relationship management (CRM) system in time for the busy holiday sales season. However, based on experience, you know there’s not enough time to implement the solution by that deadline.
What should you do? Most employees in this scenario would be apprehensive about pushing back on the deadline, fearing the response: “If you can’t do it, we’ll find someone who can.”
Resist this temptation to remain silent. With a reasoned approach, you can actually increase your value in the eyes of management by pointing out the dangers of rushed deadlines (without increasing resources) and offering possible solutions that would put your deployment on course to success.
Counting the Cost of Unrealistic Deadlines
As you express concern over timelines to management, underscore these risks to the company’s bottom line, should the project be tied to unrealistic time pressures:
- The project team is overworked, leading to exhaustion, low morale, subpar quality work, and high employee turnover. In this scenario, the project is set up for costly delays (sick days, training new staff, quality issues, etc.) with very little chance of getting back on track.
- There’s the irresistible temptation to cut corners. This often means skimping on quality assurance (including testing and de-bugging before “go live”) and training programs to meet deadline. The impact: The system is plagued by chronic software glitches that shut down the system and disrupt sales operations, causing order processing errors or lost orders altogether – creating angry customers. There’s not only the cost of fixing the glitch itself but also trying to convince customers to come back.
Once you’ve explained the risks and costs, focus on solutions. The following are four tips:
1. Test the deadlines. Are they feasible? If not, show the timeline dependencies and isolate the precise reasons why a deadline is not doable.
2. Consider the triple constraints: scope, time, and cost. To hit the proposed deadline, what adjustments must occur in either scope or cost or both?
3. Be conservative. Have you built in a buffer to accommodate unforeseen problems?
4. Present the most viable options. Negotiate for more resources or revise the time table altogether.
The Bottom Line
The push for quick turnaround on CRM deployments is understandable – the faster you deploy, the sooner your company generates results (and return on investment). However, if you’re not careful, rushing a project could lead to catastrophic results that sink the deployment altogether. Address this issue with a reasoned approach, and you’ll increase the likelihood that the project will receive the resources (of time, personnel and money) it needs to succeed.