I'm a consultant usually brought in by companies doing project management on big projects, setting up operations etc. The last few years I have been dealing mainly with digital and creative agencies.
This sector historically has a very low level of competence within software development. The lifespan of their projects, once released, are often measured in months rather than years, since most projects are in some way marketing related. As such they do not really understand the complexity or scope of "real" software development.
My problem is as follows: When presented with a new project, which I can rather quickly dismiss as entirely unfeasible (we're talking extremely unrealistic projects), I have trouble communicating why it cannot be done. I argue the technical complexity and the requirements versus the time and price scope. It however seems to fall entirely on deaf ears.
In the last 12 months, I've been bypassed twice now, by non-technical but high-ranking officers in an agency. Essentially my recommendations ignored, they've looked around until they've found a vendor or individual who says "yes it can be done". Both times, the projects of course crashed and burned, because again, they were so amazingly unrealistic, that even inexperienced technical project managers would dismiss it right away.
Of course in these cases, there is no acknowledgement of mistake on the part of the high ranking officers. Nor do I seek it, as there is no gain to be made.
I think however that the perception of myself is turning towards a person that just says no for the heck of it - a regular killjoy or spoilsport. I feel my lack of persuasion skills, is highly detrimental to my role as a consultant.
What kind of approach or what kind of arguments would you use when presented with something wildly unrealistic, but yet highly desired by major stakeholders? Maybe any literature to read on the subject?