to the Internal Revenue Service. A need has been created because a date
has been set. Although many individuals will complete their income tax
filing sooner than April 15, there are enough people proving Parkinson’s
Law to warrant changes to a government agency’s procedures.
It is also important to realize that most project team members work
on multiple projects and generally have their own functional job as well.
Therefore, if a task is going to take a day to complete but is not due for 2
weeks, then most likely, the task will be pushed off in favor of a task with
a sooner due date. When applied to project management, Parkinson’s
Law means that if a PM shows the risk date, then team members will fill
the time frame naturally to the later date. Therefore, PMs are often leery
of publishing the risk date. Sponsors and stakeholders generally have past
experience in seeing a project naturally fill a later date and do not want to
allow a risk date. It is not always the project team’s fault. Using the exam-
ple stated earlier in this chapter, if the PM published a project plan that
had April 17 (the risk date) as the completion date, people would just see
that date and naturally push off their work. It is not done maliciously; the
team members did not understand the difference between the two dates.
Maybe they did not look at the plan closely enough or see that it was the
date with risk. In any case, the time is usually utilized.
Inevitably, PMs become conditioned not to put risk into the project
plan; however, another law is prevalent in project management. That
law is Murphy’s Law.
■ Murphy’s Law
Murphy’s Law means that anything that can go wrong, will and at the
worst possible time. This law is proven time after time in projects. In
fact, 2 percent of a project will always go wrong, but the question is,
which 2 percent? Murphy’s Law shows that risk must be accounted for.
Something will go wrong on a project. It is the PM’s job to anticipate
what will go wrong and to perform proper risk planning to mitigate the
impact on the project.
This situation creates a quandary for PMs. How can risk manage-
ment be performed to account for Murphy’s Law, yet not show risk to
prevent Parkinson’s Law? The answer isn’t as complex as one may
think. It is a technique that is used to set the proper context of the pres-
entation of risk.
154 Project Management That Works