What do you do when the business imposes an arbitrary deadline?

My business stakeholders wanted the product launch to align with a major event in the political calendar – happens to have been the state opening of British parliament. The product was all about politics so launching simultaneously with a major political event made perfect sense to the business folk. The trouble was that this was just an arbitrary date as far as the development team was concerned. What do you do when the business imposes an arbitrary deadline?

Here is what I did . . .

  1. Raised the issue with product owners and Programme Board, explaining that we could not meet the deadline with current scope.
  2. Talked to team – both product owners and development – about options
  3. Negotiated a new scope and deadline with Programme Board based on data and business priorities

As it happens the day the Programme Board chose as the new deadline was a day after the British parliaments began to return from recess. Not as big as the state opening but still a big date in the political calendar.

Of course the editorial folk were disappointed to miss the optimum launch date. But once I moved the discussion to requirements rather than dates they felt in the driving seat and made the best call they could on features versus time.

We launched the product. Got great reviews. Won an award for web innovation. Huge success. Nobody remembers that we didn’t launch at the state opening of British parliament.

This post is part of my What do I do When … ? series. Please drop me a line or add a comment if you’ve got a question you’d like answered.

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