Beware the Ides of March as you project your project timeline…

A long time reader pointed out that not everyone reads my Yelp reviews. So a link to the review mentioned yesterday is here. My apologies for not including it yesterday.

I have been involved in a number of projects over the years professionally and at home. Each of those projects has taught me something. First of all you have to be COMPLETELY honest about schedules. I think of all the Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I’ve talked to early on in their campaigns that is the first thing I tell them. Be honest about your actual timeline. I have backed more than 200 projects now. I can honestly say of the 200, early adopter cutting edge projects 6 have been truly on time. That by the way is not a knock on any of the projects, just a simple reality. When you are beyond the edge of normal and well onto the cutting edge you are going to be beholden to things unplanned.

The problem is culturally as I pointed out yesterday things are changing. Customer service is definitely changing. Not always less, but different than it was. People are less inclined to require a human voice on the other end of a phone or an in-person conversation. That is old school to require human interaction. What we are looking for now is fast service that is good.

Resources are expended based on the requirements of the solution. If you lock cost, then you have to allow for scope and time to be managed. Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns lock cost (they raise money based on the initial startup of the campaign) so it is by the very nature of building and delivering that solutions that Time has to be flexible. Don’t hump on the campaign if they miss the original date.

There is another triangle however that is often forgotten. The resource drainage is one you can try to get around but reality says you won’t. No matter good your project is, you won’t succeed if you end up trying to lock all three aspects of the resource triangle. But, the market will push you to do so. Get your product as announced out on time with all the original features oh and by the way add some additional cool things you didn’t promise but deliver anyway because its cool!

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The three components are the vision, the change and the innovation. I understand the modern get it now reality. But where you are in this triangle can crunch your project and ultimately make your timeline a joke. Any one of these gears can roll over your project and make it nearly impossible. In 1963 John Kennedy said we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He artfully removed cost (no matter what it costs) in creating NASA. Get there and spend whatever it takes. We succeeded because there was enough money to drive to the timeline.

Given the modern “give it to me now” how do we balance the drive to innovation and the reality of the resource triangle? We fudge time. Time however is a variable that drives up costs. That development team costs money. Unless, the are bound to a VISION. Vision drives belief, you see leaders have vision. In sharing that vision people commit to the vision and are willing to forsake monetary compensation for belief. Great vision creates change and innovation and ripple and make the market change.

So, as I tell every Indiegogo and Kickstarter project that reaches out to me, be as honest with your timeline as you can. To every person out there who expects things now, don’t become a cutting edge gadget person. There are no timelines on the edge of greatness. Timelines require massive budgets.

.doc

Innovator, dreamer and sometimes Oracle…