What to do if the client which you work for gives you tasks as well as deadline for those tasks, without compromising on time and budget? Even though you know that the tasks can not be completed within required time, how would a manager/software professional handle such a situation?


6 Answers 6


In a buyer-seller relationship, the seller also has a say. If the terms are unreasonable, reject the contract and re-negotiate. If the seller agrees, then your only recourse is to do the best you can, mitigate what you can, monitor closely, and communicate early and often the high risk and how you are trending. A great PM is great not because they achieve project objectives all the time but because they communicate bad news early and often so that project owners can make decisions before they are surprised.


One definition of project management is the art of managing cost, scope, and schedule. It is the project manager's job to raise the visibility of scope and schedule risks to senior management for action.

If you aren't the project manager, raise your concerns with the person in that role. If you are the project manager and have failed to control the scope or schedule, then you need to inform senior management that the project is at risk.


Perhaps I could give more specific advice with more details, but it sounds like you're in a situation where you're already committed, but you know you won't deliver. Even when everything goes right, this can happen, so don't panic :).

In most cases, that deadline comes from a business need of some sort. It is important to communicate with the client, understand the need, and see if you can deliver a reduced scope for the task in the time frame. For example, maybe you were supposed to deliver a feedback system, but the backend is more complicated than you thought. If you can deliver the front-end and that sends an email to someone who manually creates a ticket in the desired system, they still get a lot of the value by their deadline and you can deliver the rest of the functionality iteratively.

I hope that helps you with your situation. If you promised the client the full scope in the deadline already, it might take some smoothing over, but it's a lot better than waiting until the deadline to have that conversation.


The issue of difficult/demanding clients is nothing new to the world of project management, nor is it limited to the world of software development.

The skill needed here is the skill of negotiation. One of the many skills a PM needs is the skill of negotiation. The client is clearly feeling they are in a position of power (which they may or may not be) and wishes to use that power to force your team to do their bidding, on their terms.

If the PM is unskilled in negotiations, then the PM should get skilled. This is a skill which one acquires through study and practice, just like creating good quality software. There are training courses available as well as books and self-study options. The bottom line is that the PM needs to better understand the client, what they really care about. Once the PM knows what they client really needs then the PM and the client can work together in order to find a win-win solution.

Simply telling the client "We can't do it so we decline the contract" is not going to make you any friends in your own senior management. This kind of simplistic thinking is reserved for people who make simplistic (read: low) salaries. This is getting into the thinking of "I win = you lose" and you might win the battle but you will lose the war. Better to see it as a problem solving session and find the right solution that makes EVERYONE happy.


If you working in Software company, being in a senior position and then if you are communicating with the client directly then its 100% sure that you will get tasks as well as deadlines that is because you are capable enough to do that tedious job which you might have shown him already ! Client will have that perception of finishing the task within the deadline it is because of sometimes he may not have much knowledge or he is aware and even though he wants it .. Compromising with the budget always depends on the Organisation or the management I could say. The same scenario happened with me so I would like to say that in chat with client " this is not a task which cannot be completed but explain him the complexity of the project you are handling and then try to give an assurance that you will try to complete that genuinely by giving your 100% effort and then if something is left out then needs a little time " I am sure the client is going to see your work which you have completed and then he will provide you the time !

  • Thanks alot hopefully this way is going to be of some help for you !
    – Rekha
    Jan 29, 2014 at 8:25

If I was a project manager I would have not taken that project.. If the client is has given tasks and deadlines which is not practically not achivable then no point in agreeing to it. If the client wants to meet deadlines they should compromise on budget in which we can add additional resource, even adding additional resource may not always give us the result which we wanted.. So there should be some understanding..

Problem in taking such projects are

  1. The client wont be happy because we dint meetin deadlines
  2. Employees wont be happy because of more pressure and stress
  3. Management team wont be happy because of customer complaints and loss of reputation

Instead of making everone unhappy you can better leave such projects..

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