I is for… Impossible

“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”

Motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – World War II

In IT, nothing is impossible, it just costs more. The bottom line is – will your customer or project sponsor pay for it?

Few customers are actually creative enough in their thinking to ask for the really impossible things. Usually a statement along the lines of ‘Do you have any idea how much that would cost?’ will scare them away from the really stupid things.

So, the only issues that are likely to approach the bounds of impossibility are lack of time to complete the work. Although, even this can often be solved with an injection of cash – you can get contractors, you can subcontract, you can work shifts, and you can even go offshore – if you’re feeling really adventurous!

That said, ‘Impossible!’ is a word you will typically hear from your team rather than your customer. Customers, by their very nature, expect the extremely difficult – but that’s because it’s not them that has to deliver it. But, that said, they do have to pay for it, so make best use of the tools of the trade. See ‘Change Control’.

To placate your team of incorrigible realists, point out to them the harsh realities of the situation. The customer is paying all of our collective wages, you’ve done your bit to temper the customer’s enthusiasm, and now they are asking for a lot less that they were expecting before. So surely they can deliver a subset of the real requirement. See ‘Ego’.

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