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I am working for a service-based company. We are working on one big project under which we have multiple subprojects.

We have been working on that project for seven years and it is ongoing.

My client is asking me to complete a 10-month subproject in three months and is saying that he has pressure from his managers to complete this subproject in this short duration. I am not a scrum master.

My client is not people manager but his manager is a people manager.

How do I explain that it takes more time? If he wont accept this, is there a chance that I will be perceived as inefficient?

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Estimates are probabilistic, which means--assuming you performed a cogent analysis--you should know your best case duration, your worst case duration, and your most likely somewhere in the middle of that range. Where does your 10-month estimate live in that range? If you are being super pessimistic with that 10-month estimate, then you have the ability to commit to something lower without taking on too much risk. You owe it to your client and your firm to arrive at the most competitive duration planning value balanced with a reasonable degree of risk for both firms.

Otherwise, you need to say "no." And stick to your judgment based on your analysis. As a PM, you have to be able to convey uncomfortable messages without too much worry how you are going to be perceived. If you are unsure yourself, then seek counsel with those whom you have some trust, then go in with that message and stand firm.

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As a Project Manager, I would negociate with the client and I´d explain my point of view: If he/she needs to make the project shorter (from 10 month to 4 months), there´s a couple of options:

  1. Try to resize the estimations of the project to get 4 month. I see this option very difficult because it´s impossible to resize 10 months to 4 months with the same team.
  2. I can add resources to my team (for example, 1 or 2 more programmers), and the customer should pay for that.
  3. Delete features from the project, and resize the estimations to 4 months. Deliver the short project, and after that, custumer might continue with the rest of the features.
  4. If there´s no chance to slice the project, then custumer need to undertand that is not possible to work under a lot of pressure to get deliver a 10 month projects, in 4 months (Unless you want to sleep 1 hour a day).

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