A friend told me an odd story. Two developers from another team were allocated at a total of 40% into a particular project. They were given a task which they’ve estimated they could complete by January.

The PM Prodded and pushed. “Finish it by December,” he demanded. Eventually, after tireless nagging, the two conceded and said they will deliver by December as requested.

“How will they do that,” I wondered. Apparently, nothing changed — only the deadline. The amount of work to be done is still the same. Their measly 0.25 and 0.15 allocations were retained as is. What was the January estimate then? Had they padded their initial estimates such that it would actually be feasible to complete the task by December? Or will they have to render overtime work to cope and meet the deadline?

Instances like these make me wonder whether the PM ever did math problems while he was back in school. *Joe works at a rate of N hours per day. A given task takes X hours. How many days will it take for Joe to finish his work? Judith needs to complete a task that requires X hours in N days? How many hours per day will Judith have to work? How many Judiths are needed if each Judith can only work Z hours per day?*