In My Private Project series I try to compare reality of managing a private-life project (building a house) with projects we deal with in our professional lives. Today’s topic is credibility of vendors.
At the moment I have one main contractor to do the first part of building the house. Until they are finished with their work it’s hard to push other tasks – you definitely won’t plaster or put floor unless the roof is ready. Now I expected to have the first phase ready by the end of January. OK, it was very optimistic plan since I couldn’t manage a risk of poor weather (it can be frostily and snowy in Poland in January). Anyway there were only a few days when the contractor couldn’t work because of weather, so I was pretty lucky. Unfortunately the slip already is much more significant. There’s thing which is now seen clearly:
They knew they’d slip when they were signing the contract.
They agreed to cut their delivery date to get the project. This made me thinking about all these situations when our estimates were coming back from sales department with message asking us to cut them in a half.
Sounds familiar? It should. I played exactly the same role here as our customers often do. I set tight deadline to have some buffer on my side for other phases of the project. I was however sure the deadline isn’t impossible to meet. What more, I had offers which promised to complete the job 25% faster. That was quite a pressure on the vendor I finally chose.
In our professional lives we face similar dilemma when the customer expects we’ll cut one third of the schedule out. We don’t know whether refusing to do so will result is seeing our offer butchered or it would be all fine for them. Most of the time vendors play safe and cut schedules even when they don’t believe they can manage to deliver on time. Sure, no one would confess, but I’ve seen it way too often to believe it happens only occasionally.
The situation hits credibility of vendors but it’s a rarity to hear from them “sorry, we can’t do it faster so we won’t promise you to do so.” Actually the problem is self-inflicted by clients, but I don’t expect their approach will change anytime soon. Hey, I’ve just used the same pattern, haven’t I?