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Emma Odia
Emma Odia

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What do you tell the PM when the deadline is against you?

The truth! The truth, the whole of it!

We have all had that time where the Project Manager has come at us in ways that we felt like one of the following:Throw the mug you are drinking coffee out of at his head OR Raise the mug and smash it against your own head!

Here’s the thing, as with every story, perspective is very important. Only when we sufficiently see a story from all sides can we make certain affirmations. There’s you, the PM and then those bugs that you told the PM you were going to squash a few days ago. What then do you do when the PM comes at you days after and asks:

“About that feature that you said we could implement on Tuesday, errr... today is Friday… You know.”

Well, he is not asking about how much you know the days of the week or if you have lost the ability to number the days. Don’t throw the coffee mug at him!

You think to yourself:
“How can I make this dude understand that coding isn’t woodwork? You do NOT simply bring out a measuring tape, take measures and the cut!”

Just pause, before you question his powers of observation, take a sip of that coffee, if for no other reason, this ought to calm your nerves down. Try, try as much as you can to see things from the point of view of the PM. Let’s begin with some questions. For a minute, see this as an arbitrary session. There’s the PM, you the developer and myself. My purpose is to ask the questions.

Me: Did you and the PM open up a document before you started on this project.

You: Yes.

PM: Of course, there was no other that we could communicate what we both thought we should build without first outlining it on paper.

(You suck in a deep breathe as you think to yourself that a “yes” answer would have been just fine. But, no, the PM has to “talk”.)

Me: Okay. That’s fine. Did you both agree on the timeless that you set and did you as Engineer particularly expand the timeline with the view to make up for possible delays.

PM: We were on a deadline and didn’t have time for that. Besides he (points at you) reassured me of his competence and his ability to complete this project within a period lesser than the original estimate.

(I take a glance at you and you run your left hand across your face whilst making a fist with your right.)

Let break out from this scence and come back to the present reality.

Dude, there were obvious mistakes on both your parts.

Common knowledge: A structure built on faulty foundations will not stand! Well, is the inference from this to break down the entire structure simply because? The answer is no. Thank goodness that you guys are not building an actual physical building but a software product. Well, it is time to revisit that features doc and the timelines. Yes, you need to sit the PM down and not reassure that you are Ninja dev but that you are an engineer that does need “f*vk room” as part of the timeline. Point of note that you will not necessarily need this extra time of every feature, hence you can use the extra time to make up for when you do need it. Trust me, you will definitely need it!

From here on out, What do you tell the PM when the deadline is against you? The truth! The truth, the whole of it!

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