In the service provider and consulting worlds, budget and schedule rule all. If a client doesn’t have control on their cost and timing it doesn’t matter how good the result is going to be. Budget and schedule often seem to trump even Quality (yes, with a capital Q). But is that the right approach to job control?
I would argue that Quality against budget and schedule is the difference between good, average and bad firms. Bad firms will hit budget and schedule perfectly without worrying overmuch about the result. Average firms hit quality while missing on budget and schedule (either by over or underestimating). Good firms get it right the first time. Because estimating an accurate budget and schedule is part of a Quality process.
Hitting on the write approach is not easy because budget and schedule are such fluid and moving targets even in the world of accurate scope and requirements. Things change – unexpected results force new direction to the work, team members get sick or have unexpected emergencies, the client changes their mind – lots of things could happen. But once a budget and schedule are out there you have a chance to show how you operate with a client. Are you going to stand by it and throw everything at the wall to get it done? Or are you going to throw up your hands until someone comes by to apologize for your dilemma?
The only thing that matters is getting the job done for the client. Half-complete is no different than not started. Almost done is not even close actually done.
Yes, it’s hard to put a date out into the world when you can’t know with certainty that you will hit it – especially with the scope proposed. But those that are successful at what they do understand that risk is the nature of the business and that nothing can be done to change it.