Project with no end date

Ole Tobias Bird
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June 13, 2023

Some internal projects have no end, meaning that there is no end date. We could in theory set a end date far in the future but that would be a bit confusing.

Is there no way of creating project updates without setting an end date.

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2 votes
Diogo Teles
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June 13, 2023

Hi Ole,

We've been trying out Atlas across our business and encountered the same issue. We had to shift our perspective a bit. Here is the approach we're using:


When will it be done?

Project owners are asked to provide an update based on when the project will fulfil all the success criteria outlined in the "What will success look like" section. This update is based on the information available and their understanding of the project's progress at that moment.

This estimation serves multiple purposes. First, as the work progresses, we can utilize these estimates to establish a more realistic deadline for the project. Second, significant variations in these estimates may indicate the need for intervention, such as holding an alignment meeting or ensuring consistency in resource allocation. Lastly, if different individuals offer conflicting opinions on the deadline, it signals the potential requirement for realignment.

In summary, this approach to this question helps us gauge progress, identify areas requiring attention, and ensure alignment among stakeholders.

What is the current status?

On track - means work is progressing as expected.

At risk - This implies that we have encountered obstacles or potentially problematic scenarios that can escalate into more significant issues.

Off track - We face significant obstacles that could prevent us from delivering the project on time unless we reconsider the scope or take steps to overcome these challenges.


Update body

Here, rather than discussing the project as a whole, we're specifically interested in hearing about the progress of the tasks currently being worked on. For instance, if we've agreed on tasks for the next month, the update should mainly highlight how those tasks are coming along and if any support is needed. The aim is to focus on the current tasks and their progress rather than the broader project timeline and risks.

1 vote
Sing Chen June 13, 2023

Hi @Ole Tobias Bird , @Diogo Teles  I would love to hear some specifics (obviously without sharing confidential or sensitive information). We are very 'tight' in our definition of a project and it must always have an end date - even if it's aspirational.

If our environment, if a business leader or someone in my team (PMO) reached out to discuss the idea of a project without an end date, my first question to them would be, how do you know how you are tracking? If there is no requirement for an end date, in principle, there is nothing that can happen during the project that can "derail" it.

The 'fuzzy' dates that Atlas supports (date, months, quarters) has been super helpful for us to build psychological safety for teams and has made conversations round target dates less contentious.

Diogo Teles
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June 14, 2023

Hi @Sing Chen 

In our case, we work with both scenarios.

  • Projects with deadlines. These could be very specific or, on rare occasions, will aim for a quarter. These projects are usually reactive and driven by an external factor.
    • Examples: we won a tender and need to meet its time and deliverables requirements, or there was an incident or non-conformance that requires prioritised resolution, or there was a change in an external input such as supply chain, and the business needs to adjust to it.
  • Projects without initial deadlines are focused on long-term strategic objectives. They relate to complex business changes, continuous improvement, business growth, or development of new product lines. Initially, these projects lack a firm deadline; any set deadline is more of a wish than a feasible target until the first milestones are reached. The initial progress helps us understand the work's scale and complexity, and feedback from project contributors is critical. That's why we use the "When will it be done?" field, as explained earlier. As the project advances, we can establish a concrete deadline, changing the meaning of that field and the risk status field to a more conventional perspective.

I'd be happy to chat more about this. Feel free to shoot me a message on LinkedIn if you want to keep the conversation going.

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