What Result Do You Want?

23 September, 2016

I have rarely had a more frustrating week in this. We have a project that is ongoing with a particular supplier who don’t seem to understand things like ‘deadlines’, ‘timeframes’ and ‘consequences’. They think it’s ok to ‘promise’ one date and then let it come and go, then set another ‘deadline’ and then let it come and go. 
When you stop and think about it, this is probably one of the most common experiences in business and life. Whether we are talking about the building of roads, delivering government IT projects or tradesmen such as builders working in your home. SO either this is just how things are, or there is a reason why things don’t get delivered as planned. I am going with the latter and am going to diagnose WHY deliverables rarely meet expectations and how to make sure they do.  
Log out of your project management tool for a while and read on.
1) The people delivering the project / event / task don’t FULLY know what they are doing, they don’t KNOW EXACTLY how to deliver it. This doesn’t mean they haven’t done it before (although it could mean that) but it could be that when they did it before they kept no history, made no records, measurements or logs. They built no internal maps, systems or processes.

2) The people delivering the project / event / task don’t care enough about the impact upon you
How to reduce the pain:
1) Set out SPECIFICALLY what you want the END RESULT to look like – in great detail. Write a novel on it
2) Set out and AGREE WHEN they can deliver and at what cost – obviously sanity check prices and delivery dates to ensure you are not getting ripped off
3) Ask them to break down the delivery into stages and milestones (and more detailed than this – a proper project plan) 
4) AGREE in writing the consequences if they do not deliver on the above.
Say the following to them: 
“If you don’t deliver on time, quality and to budget, then I get the deeds to your house, the keys to your car and the shares of your business” 
The supplier is unlikely to agree to the above and will protest, so you can then say: 
“But YOU are setting the time frame for this work, YOU have provided the breakdowns and YOU have agreed the price – NOW you are saying that you can’t be sure about them? Can you understand why this makes me worried?” Then pause.
You see, they have probably never been asked to think about things like this and they will need some time to come up with a reasonable answer. Your job is to repeat the above and get to a position where you can agree consequences with them where they will feel the pain personally if they don’t deliver. Because they aren't bothered about your pain, even if they say they are.
The consequences may be a penalty a day, 10% off for every week the work is late or whatever is painful enough for them to compensate you. 
You see the consequences act as the insurance, not an insurance to claim BUT the insurance to get the result you want.