Under promise, over deliver vs. Over promise, under deliver

Under promise, under deliver vs. Over promise, under deliver which one is better there is only one way to find out............FIGHT.

Stakeholder management and setting expectations of customers is always a minefield, I have seen differing approaches adopted and they tend to be extremes. The sales guy trying to win the new piece of business tends to over play the poisitives and is willing to take bigger risks. In contrast you have the delivery team being risk averse focussing on how difficult the project is. Both of them are wrong in my view.

Fundamentally as a project manager we need to be honest to ourselves and to our stakeholders, if we catch ourselves thinking, we should be able to do that but have no clue how to then say so. Don't operate on a wing and a prayer. If we think just to be safe lets add in a bunch of contingency, then challenge ourselves to think "How have I calculated that? What is the unknown element and have I thought about the assumptions and quantified them. If we find ourselves not knowing the answer then be open with our stakeholders and tell them we do not know yet and tell them when you will know.

The conversation maybe uncomfortable but nowhere near as uncomfortable as explaining late deliver and cost overruns or massive cost underruns and resources released late that could have been used on other project which may have been pulled or delayed. Our job is to deliver projects and do so utilising our funding organisations resources effectively.

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Under Promise and Over Deliver vs Over Promise and Under Deliver