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The Impossible Dream, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

Your managers assign you a project with an impossible deadline and budget. When you explain that it is unrealistic, they start talking about "can-do attitudes" like you don't have one. What can you do?
  1. Statement of work Identify the project purpose, scope and deliverables. Don't stop asking "why?" until you identify the most basic project goals. Make sure all scope elements and deliverables are really necessary to accomplish the goals.
  2. Project plan Develop at least three options to accomplish the project, and demonstrate the trade-offs of each. Recommend the option that best matches the priorities of the managers.
  3. Clarify risks Identify the schedule and cost penalties. If a project delay costs the company millions of dollars, a thousand dollars in overtime is an excellent investment.
  4. Consider the cost-schedule-quality triangle Choose two. Under severe conditions, a project can be done low cost and fast, but not with the best quality; or fast and high quality, but only at a high cost; or low cost and high quality but only with competitive bidding or other techniques which take time.
  5. Optimize company resources Suggest adjustments that use the company's resources wisely - maybe delaying the project a few days would save large overtime costs, but not cause a significant problem to the schedule. Moving manpower from a lower priority project may accomplish the goals, without added costs. Leasing rather than purchasing may achieve the cost objectives.
  6. Document the direction Document the managers' decisions regarding project options and risks.
  7. Proceed Make it happen with your best "can-do attitude". No dreaming required!

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