Project Due Dates – How to Screw Up a Project Plan

project plan
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Watch this video of a common way to screw up a project plan. Is it familiar?

Pretend Project Due Dates

The sponsor plucks a project due date out of the sky. Then the tells the stakeholders they’re accountable for meeting that date. No one believes this pretend due date is realistic. They back into the due dates for their deliverables but they aren’t committed to them.  Watch the managers faces in this video and see how much commitment they have to the dates.  These people know they are going to fail before they even start work.  They’re all trying to figure out  how they will throw something together by the due date. They know they’ll then spend months fixing it.

Project Planning Blunders: Due Dates

Realistic Project Due Dates

The way a project manager and sponsor should set the project due date is by calculating the amount of work that each task requires. An effective technique is to let the team members take part in estimating the number of hours worth of work their task will take. Then you convert the number of work hours into the task’s duration. The duration is also based on each team member’s availability to work on their project task. Main Project Planning Page

When you use that technique to develop your task duration estimates, you gain a significant number benefits. First, the team members have a reasonable amount of commitment to the due date because they participated in setting it. Second, you and sponsor can accurately track progress. You can measure the number of hours worked versus the estimated hours. That gives you an exact idea of the percentage of work completed and the percentage of work remaining. With that information, you can calculate when the work will be done. The third benefit is that the team members are not held accountable for finishing their task by a certain date. They are accountable for finishing within a certain number of hours worth of work.

You can learn the best practices for planning projects with realistic due dates in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.

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Author: Dick Billows, PMP

Dick has more than 25 years of project and program management experience throughout the US and overseas. Dick was a partner in the 4th largest professional firm and a VP in a Fortune 200 company. He trained and developed 100's of project managers using his methodology. Dick is the author of 14 books, over 300 articles and director/producer of 90 short project management training videos. He and a team of 25 project managers work with client companies & students across the US and in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have assisted over 300 organizations in improving their project performance. Books by Dick Billows, PMP are on