Manage your project deadlines

A month from a calendar with red push pins stuck in several dates.

Deadlines are easy to set and hard to meet.

When I was in grad school, my advisor liked to say “multiply your estimate by three and you’ll only be half as wrong.” That’s painfully cynical, but it’s a good reminder that humans are bad at estimating. But we need to estimate in order to set a good deadline. If the deadline is too aggressive, we risk burning out the team and disappointing the customer (for whatever definition of “customer” is appropriate). If the deadline is too lax, the team may feel bored and disengaged.

So how do you set deadlines that aren’t hard to meet? In my latest for The Pragmatic Programmers, I talk about deadlines. I give advice on how to set them and what to do when it looks like you’ll miss them (because you will).

This post’s featured photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash.

Ben is a principal program manager at Red Hat, focused on the Fedora Project. He is the author of Program Management for Open Source Projects. Ben is an Open Organization Ambassador and frequent conference speaker. His personal website is Funnel Fiasco.

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