There’s an ongoing debate in the IT world, whether deadlines are actually useful. Because sometimes it can feel like it limits your team. However, deadlines are extremely useful when used right. Putting a deadline on a project is something that pushes your team to think critically about their work and deliverables.

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Are Deadlines Useful?

There’s several benefits to using deadlines:

1. Working Backwards

I’ve previously talked about why working backwards is useful in this series. Deadlines can push your team to work backwards. Because when you have a deadline, it becomes your starting point in deciding what needs to be delivered by launch.

2. Ruthless Prioritization

When a deadline is placed on the project it forces your team to prioritize work with their ultimate goal in mind. They have to better manage their time and allocate their time accordingly to a task’s importance.

3. Project Status

When you have a deadline, you can always easily tell whether you’re on track or not. It makes it easier to manage your time and tasks.

4. Urgency

Deadlines create urgency that is rare to come by without them. And it makes people work better and come up with more creative solutions.

5. Faster Delivery

The last key benefit of using deadlines is that they ultimately lead to faster delivery. Without deadlines, people tend to strive for absolute perfection and delay the launch. When you have the deadline, you only focus on essential features and then improve later on.

How To Use Deadlines Effectively?

To learn how to use deadlines effectively, you first need to understand that there’s two types of deadlines. The real deadlines that matter, and the ones that don’t matter at all. In most cases, launching a few weeks later or missing a deadline by a few days is not a big deal. So how to use deadlines even if there’s not a genuine time pressure?When a deadline is not actually important but you want to use it to enable your team to do better, you as a PM need to genuinely care about the set date. And it’s not a matter of faking it – the deadline you set should be important to you, because achieving goals and delivering is ultimately your job.

What To Keep In Mind When Working With Deadlines?

However, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind when working towards a deadline, especially one that’s only meant to motivate your team.

  1. Don’t Ship A Product For A Deadline’s Sake

If the deadline is approaching, don’t make the mistake of cutting corners and shipping an unfinished product. That might cause real consequences for your company and lead to more problems in the future.

  1. Don’t Punish Your Team For Missing A Deadline

As a Product Manager, you should take the responsibility for missing a deadline. Never punish your team for it, because they have been working hard to meet this deadline.

  1. Celebrate Achieved Deadlines

The last thing you need to do is to celebrate when your team meets a deadline. In order to get the effects of a deadline on your team’s work, you need to ensure they have a positive association with actually meeting a deadline. If you don’t celebrate their achievements, it will seem pointless to try and work hard to meet a deadline.

Deadlines are a useful tool to encourage creativity and critical thinking in your team, but be careful not to make them an obstacle – otherwise all the potential benefits will be lost. To watch the Product Manager’s Handbook Series, click here to visit our YouTube channel. If you’re looking for a product development team to work with to deliver excellent products and results, contact us!