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May 03
2016

Build in Reserve Time for Commitments

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Regular readers will know that I stress certain keys to success. They are to do what you say you will do, do it at the price you agreed to and deliver on time. All of us experience time pressures and can easily allow commitments and projects to slip. Then, we either deliver them late or go back to the customer and ask for more money or time to complete the work. What we failed to understand about the project cost the customer more than it should have.

 

Something unexpected will come up. If you fail to plan well including adding reserve time, you will consistently deliver late. The excuse I hear from time to time is that “something” came up that put the project behind and “sorry” is supposed to cover the broken promise. However, if you agree to a new deadline; often that new schedule has a way of slipping past also. When you encounter someone like this, you can follow my lead. I simply don’t use them for future projects. Some people talk big and deliver poorly.

I encourage my clients to work out time budgets that allocate time including time for family, work, the Lord, and any other work. I encourage those who lack experience in planning jobs to add 20 to 35% to the schedule as they calculate total time. While they may finish the job with less, they can deliver ahead of time or on schedule and build a reputation for keeping deadlines.

Over time they get a system down that will allow them to more reliably calculate delivery times. They still need to add in reserve time. You or a child may become sick, a family emergency can arise, or another issue can take priority. With no reserve time, your client will automatically suffer first. I find that many say they can’t take time away from family commitments or leisure activities. Nor do they want to pay to hire somebody to get the job done as scheduled. Therefore, the customer bears the consequences of their poor planning. This may sound harsh but if you make a commitment with zero planning for reserve time, the project is already scheduled to fail because of under-planning. It becomes the fault of the contractor that the customer does not receive what was promised on time.

There is another issue here that concerns me. My experience with Christians is that they have a tendency to miss deadlines and simply expect grace in all cases. There are some instances where grace is appropriate and should be extended. For example if the person working suffers a heart attack or is badly injured in a car accident; there is no way for that person to keep the deadline. Other times when the work could be done on schedule if the person put in another two hours a day or worked two Saturdays to meet the committed schedule, I’m less inclined to extend grace.

We need to understand in today’s marketplace that each project is usually part of a process. Each is a piece of the machine that a coordinated plan puts in motion. Any delay will put the entire project behind schedule. This costs others’ time and money, sometimes a lot of money.

I live with a lot of deadlines. To keep them I sometimes have to work in the evenings or use Saturdays for catch-up. While I prefer not to use these times for work, I put this time in so that I meet my commitments on schedule.

Jesus said, “All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, NIV)

The key to success is to do what you say you will do, do it at the price you agreed to and deliver it on schedule. Better yet do a better job than you promised ahead of schedule and you’ll have more business than you can handle. Few people will meet that standard consistently. Be one of the few!

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