I am currently working on an 8 month final project, of which 1 month has already passed. Its for an Engineering Doctorate degree. I have one supervisor and one client(who is a PhD student).


It is really important for me to finish the project on time. The most important reason is that I was recently offered a job and I told them that I will join after 7 months. So if I don't complete the project on time then I might lose this job. Secondly, I am living in a foreign country(All of my colleagues are too) and earn some monthly living expenses from the university. These living expenses will stop exactly after 7 months. So if someone is late with their project then they will not get any living expenses for the remaining number of months. Every year they have two or three such cases.


  1. They are not responsible for my project timeline: This is not really a problem but both of them made it clear to me on the first day. In the beginning the supervisor told me that you will be the one driving our discussion sessions and deciding your work for each week. The PhD student also told me that "I am not responsible for protecting the timing of your project and you are responsible for that". So I cannot blame them for any delay.

  2. Unwilling to Negotiate: The problem is that my supervisor is not willing to negotiate anything related to scope or requirements. The first time I tried to bring up the issue of scope, he said "We will see near the end of the project what happens". The second time I tried to bring it up he got angry and told me "To be real blunt,this is what I want in the end. If you are worried about your grade then I must tell you that you will be given a fair evaluation".

What does a "fair" evaluation mean? Does it mean I will get the degree but I will work 2 more months after my project timeline without pay and also lose my new job? In that case, this is not really fair at all.

  1. Unrealistic Expectations: Now for some reason I feel like that it might not be possible to complete the three goals of the project on time. It might be possible and it might not be possible. I am not sure of the time because I have not done something like this before. And I think that the supervisor is also not sure of the exact time it will take. For example, When I asked about the first goal then the PhD student said it is really simple and will take around 2 weeks. However, when I started implementing we found out that there were a lot of things to implement just to support the simple thing and it is much longer than just 2 weeks of work.

  2. Trying to change directions/ Integrating my senior's work: Furthermore, he also wants me to integrate this project with a senior's project. Sometimes they want me to go in a different direction which is again scary for me.

  3. They ask me to write down the project goals so that could be used to evaluate my work in the end.


I am really stressed out about the timely completion of my project. I am currently working really hard and don't even take the weekend off. My colleagues are only working 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday. This is the reason that I am already implementing things while they are still studying papers for their topic.

How should I deal with this so that I complete the project on time? How do I set realistic scope and goals for my project without making this guy angry? How do I make sure they don't ask me to do something in the last two months that would make me late?

closed as off-topic by Myles, Joel Etherton, IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, user8365 Feb 10 '16 at 21:15

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Joel Etherton, Community
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  • Sounds like a conversation you need to have with your stakeholders. If you are ultimately responsible for timeline then you need some control over scope or a clearly defined scope before the project is 75% complete. Unfortunately you are off topic here since this is about navigating an academic environment rather than a typical workplace. Maybe try at the Academics SE? – Myles Feb 10 '16 at 17:48
  • Welcome to the world of work. You call it "stressful", we call it "every day". This is not a new phenomenon, and it's pretty much all opinion and conjecture when being answered. We don't know what makes "this guy angry". We also can't predict what they'll do in the future. – Joel Etherton Feb 10 '16 at 17:51
  • @Myles I posted it here because my question was more about requirements and scope management. – bbbbbbbbbb Feb 10 '16 at 17:52
  • 1
    PM would likely close it as too broad. – Myles Feb 10 '16 at 18:28
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is more about performing a job function than navigating the workplace. This question my be more appropriate for Project Management SE – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 10 '16 at 18:28

First, you make a plan based on the current scope. You observe your progress against the plan. If you won't finish on time, you talk to your supervisor about reducing the scope. In theory, you could increase your workload, but for some reason you've done this right from the beginning, leaving yourself no room for future expansion.

Now your supervisor has rejected attempts to reduce the scope early on, when they were based on no information at all. But if you say to your supervisor

I have to leave on [date] to start my new job. I may be able to help you in the evenings after that, but you know it will be a lot slower. It's best to pick the things that absolutely must be done, and I will make sure they get done before then.

You are likely to get a positive response. You may get an angry threat to lower your mark. I suggest reacting as though this would be awful and enquiring whether this would mean only an A instead of an A+, or perhaps even as awful as a B? Don't smirk or look relieved. Look like your mark really worries you. But if you are going to pass this course by getting parts 1, 2, and 3 done then you don't need to do parts 4, 5, and 6 to get an A - it's enough to pass. You already have a job lined up! Nobody cares what your actual marks were in grad school after your first job.

They are telling you they won't do anything to help you hit your deadline. So you need to. You need to keep tracking yourself against your goals and against how much time is left. You need to set aside perfectionism and see that being finished is important. Don't encourage them to look for every tiny tweak either. When Part 1 is done, tell them that Part 1 is done and you're moving on to Part 2. If they want endless changes and do-overs for Part 1, ask them if they want those so badly that it's ok not to get Part 3? Yes, they may say your work is poor and you should do everything, but then again they may not. You won't know until you ask.

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