Why delays in projects do not matter

Quite recently Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens said that it does not matter whether the German Airport BER is ready in 5 or 10 years.

Any discussion I observed recently around the project BER was in the same tone “The stupid politicians / managers are unable to deliver on time”. Well, should we think in that way?

The first date public received was summer 2012. Currently experts believe that just for some technical components to finalize it will take at least 18 months – and they haven’t even started, these 18 months. So does anyone believe that despite the fact, that they are now working 15 months longer already as originally planned and another 18+ to go, that managers, if they have acted smarter, would have delivered on time?

No, the only thing they could have done is to warn earlier that the initial estimate was wrong by 2-3 years at least. But why do we need a date for this project anyway? Couldn’t we start planning in yearly estimates, and once we get closer to the end date start estimating in quarters and only 3 months before delivery in weeks? Why do we need a date 2-3-4-5-6-x years before something finishes? If the chances are almost 100% that we won’t hit the month, maybe year and definately not the day?

Is it worthwhile for something we will do anyway, regardless of cost or time to invest so much time and money into planning things out thoroughly (and always incorrectly) while it in the end does not really matter? The delivery of the project is an airport and if we were honest, we would all declare that we want know what it will roughly cost and when it will roughly finish – but we also all know that these estimates change on a daily basis. This is a strategic project where time and also money do not matter as much as they might be relevant for other projects.



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