Last-Minute Lament

How many times have you had a colleague come to you late in the workday asking for help on a project when he was facing an eminent deadline? I have to admit, this is one of my biggest pet peeves in business.

Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

I know that you can’t always be prepared for everything, and more than once I have had a client call in a favor asking for something and needing it right away. It is times such as these that we bend over backward and do anything we can to provide great customer service.

It has been my experience, more times than not, that clients are extra appreciative of our efforts and will remember us when it comes time for customer feedback surveys and, hopefully, future work.

But what I would like to talk about today doesn’t necessarily involve a client calling in a favor, but rather a colleague or project manager not adequately preparing for deadlines and the effort involved in meeting them.

I experienced this recently when a co-worker asked me for help with a proposal on a project. Around our office, I have a reputation as being the go-to guy for anything related to social media.

While I don’t have time to be as active with social media as I would like, I do try to keep abreast of news and changes in the social media world because I find it fascinating. This particular project proposal had a social media component involved with it and my co-worker did not feel competent drafting the required text.

When my co-worker approached me and asked for my help, I was already working under a deadline and probably should have told him that I did not have time. But anyone who knows me knows that that is not the way I am.

I will usually do whatever I can to help someone out when they are in a bind because I know what it is like to be scrambling at the last minute trying to wrap something up. And besides, I might find myself in that same situation someday needing their help.

As we started working on the project and trying to finish it by the given deadline, we knew that we had our work cut out for us. We spent the better part of two hours and finished on time.

Once we were finished and sent the final document to the project manager, we started lamenting over our plight. While I had never worked with this particular project manager before, I learned that this was not the first time he had waited until the eleventh hour before asking for help.

As my co-worker and I debriefed our project, we tried to come up with ways that we could prevent this from happening in the future. We came up with a few ideas and will try to implement them in the future, but I’m curious–have you ever found yourself in this situation, and what did you do about it?

If you have, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com

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One comment on “Last-Minute Lament

  1. Wes Smith on said:

    This happens all the time. I’m of the opinion that many project managers have decided that deadlines are a good way to optimize labor costs and to cut hours spent on document preparation. Of course, no one’s saying it, but there it is.

    A proper deadline will be based on working back from the set deadline to allow time for individual project items to be met. Although I’m aware that deadlines need to be set, false deadlines for the purpose of labor optimization sets a dangerous precedent.

    Clients also need to be made aware of time constraints’ effect on project outcome. There’s a lot to be said for the old saying “you get what you pay for.” Set an unreasonable deadline and watch project quality fall by the wayside.

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