Cost vs. Benefit – Sometimes the right thing may not be the BEST thing to do!

So your project team member – working on a critical path task – comes up to you and says, “I don’t think the original design is the right way to do this. This is not scalable. I will have to redo a part of my work and will need more time.” What do you do!? . We have all probably been in this situation – either as the project manager or as the team member. Situations like this test your focus and leadership every time they occur. Keep in mind that within a company, we all work towards a common goal – which is to make the business successful. The project you are working on SHOULD make things better for the business.  Otherwise there is no point in working on the project!  Project managers should be able to take a step back and look at things from the perspective of the organization and make the right decision.  

In the case above, the team member had brought up a valid concern and a possible way to address it. However, you may be able to get away with releasing the first version with the limitations. If it is related to a new product, may be releasing the product on time is more important than making it scalable immediately.  Are the dates tied to some other external company event? Will the delay in this project cause delays in other projects downstream? If yes, is that ok? Another important thing to consider is the team morale.  Complex projects on an aggressive timeline can be strenuous for the project team. Announcing a delay can de-motivate and knock the wind out of the project team. If the proposed delay is coming up at the last minute, even announcing the delay needs to be handled carefully.

As you can see, the project manager should consider various points of view before making a decision related to dates on a project.  Moving project dates can have significant impact on an organization and its function. Sometimes it is worthwhile to delay doing the right thing!


1 thought on “Cost vs. Benefit – Sometimes the right thing may not be the BEST thing to do!”

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    It is generally better to release just enough as you go. Get it out there so customers can comment. It may be that you will need to recode for scalability. It may be also be that you need to scrap the entire direction and build a different product. By releasing a less then perfect product sooner, you collect revenue and customer feedback earlier, plus you don’t waste development effort on code that might be thrown away. Either way you win.

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