Engaging Culture

The Power of Delivering On Time

The computer software industry has taught us that perfection is over-rated. Sure we get sick of software bugs when we buy a new program, but the truth is, when a major upgrade of a favorite program is announced, we can’t wait to get it. Likewise, there are bugs and shortcomings on the Apple iPhone, but tens of thousands stood in line for days to get one. We put up with the problems in exchange for getting our hands on it quick, and ultimately, we know most bugs can eventually be fixed.

That’s why in our quest for perfection, we can’t forget the impact of delivering when promised. It holds true for whatever project or product you’re working on. I’ve discovered it’s always better to deliver a less than perfect project on-time than be late with perfection.

Most flaws can be fixed, and in my experience, clients want to make sure they’re getting something for their money. They want to see the proof that they made a good investment. So they’d rather see a “work in progress” than get nothing on the delivery date.

Pleading – “Well, I know we’re late, but we’re going to make it really special” rings hollow when a client or customer is looking at the clock. It’s not an excuse to deliver shoddy products or projects, but it is a wake up call to remember the critical importance of delivering on time and on budget.

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6 Comments

  1. Well put.  With so many options in the non-linear era we can tweak a project to death.  I often leave an 'easy' fix or two in a first draft that I know the client will want changed.  It makes them a part of the process.  They will come up with changes anyway so if a project is 'perfect' in our eyes, it will still have modifications made.  As it's said, under-promise and over-deliver. 

  2. Well said Phil and Phil. I've also discovered that you must consider your own equipment limitations with an experienced imagination and make a priority to request from your client/boss a firm deadline. First, a firm deadlines allows you to instantly know how to approach the project and what you can promise the client. For an extreme example, when I had to edit a minister's 4 hour service into a 3 hour program that started broadcasting in 5 hours (after the service ended), I approached it a WHOLE LOT differently than if I had a week to transcribe, paper-cut, digitize, design, edit, print-to-tape, and deliver. Once you know the deadline, preparation is key. I was informed of the tight deadline early enough (thank God!) that I was able to watch the 4 hour service live (as it was being taped). While watching and listening, I made sub-topic notes (with time codes) and made most of my edit decisions on paper before the service was over. Being flexible (bi-linear if you will), I made the quick decision to edit linear tape based because non-linear (digitizing -> print-to-tape) would have taking too long (at that time). Plus, with my experienced imagination (as I call it), I knew if I didn't make it I could have punted or technologically cheated by editing the first part on one tape and matching code on a second tape for a sync/live switch over. The point is: When you know your equipment and time limitations "anything is possible" with an experienced imagination.

  3. Easy to say when it comes to something like the iPhone but not so easy when it comes to multi-million/-billion dollars satellite systems or space flights or expensive military equipment.  Flaws in such systems could mean the loss of people's lives.  Even if these flaws don't compromise life or safety, to fix them in such systems is likely very difficult and expensive — much more so than if they were fixed before the system becomes operational even with late delivery.

  4. Unless you personally are a rocket scientist, I don't know of any other blog readers who are impacting the space program.  My advice still stands….

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