In my 7+ yrs in the private sector, I have learned that deadlines are truly at the whim of the client, especially if it's a governmental entity. I'm currently working on a rather large project that involves several sites each with their own set of issues. I set up a design/construction schedule based on the parameters given to me by the client that gave us plenty of time to do the preliminary design and etc. for the sites. All of a sudden, the schedule is "too long" and I need to move up the deadline so that the plans are completed in 4-6 wks, as all of these sites need to be constructed by the end of the year and not early-mid next year.
The problem is that it's a huge snowball effect. Now I've got to push overworked subs to get their work submitted to me much sooner than expected. I'm also waiting on the client to give me some much-needed info for these sites. I'm in no position to tell the client that "I can't complete this until you give me X,Y,Z," because they call the shots and pay the bills.
I just learned why this project has been fast-tracked - summed up in two words - ELECTION YEAR. Each of these sites is located in a particular councilmanic district and everyone wants to showcase their achievements come campaign season. It's times like these when I hate politics even more than usual.
So, if you're a consultant, how do you handle constantly changing deadlines and still maintain high quality work? For those on the other side of this equation, how do you justify changing deadlines in such a manner that it could jeopardize the quality of the work?