The Project Update

This is a role-play scenario to work on with your teacher.

You will play someone who works in a small startup company. Your teacher will play your CEO.

The Scenario

You're responsible for an 18-month project, which is one of the biggest in your company. With 3 months to go, it's obvious to you that it's going to be late and cost more than the original budget of $2m. There have been a number of problems - a key software component was much more difficult to develop than expected, and your major partner company has gone out of business.

You need to give your monthly report to your CEO.


Try to explain the situation to him in a clear and professional way, sticking to the facts, and get a decision on how you should proceed.

Useful Vocabulary

"I'm afraid..."

Used to soften a statement: "I'm afraid we tried that already. It didn't work"

Car crash / train wreck

A situation which is bad and completely out of control. "Why should we spend more money on this project? It's a complete car crash."

Feature creep

A project may have 10 features to begin with. This usually increases. The scope “creeps” larger over time

Not fit for purpose

If something is not fit for purpose, it’s fundamentally not suitable for what it’s meant to do. Think of a car with square wheels!


Someone, usually senior, who has a special interest in a project

To achieve the same outcome

To get the same effect in a different way

To jump through hoops

To do something tedious, requiring many steps. “To hire a new developer, I have to jump through hoops with HR and Finance.”

To wave a magic wand

To do the impossible. "I'll try, but I can't wave a magic wand".

"Maybe a better approach..."

A polite way of suggesting an alternative, without directly rejecting someone else's suggestion

Deep dive

To examine a topic or problem in real detail; to focus on a problem until it's resolved. "We have to fix this issue. Let's get the team together for a deep dive session"

I’ve heard all this before!

Said if someone is trying to promise that something will be done, when they have previously said the same thing - and you are sceptical. Not rude, but very direct

Requirements Specification

A document that clearly defines what a product or platform does; what it doesn't do; or changes/new features that are needed

Steering group

A group of senior people who meet regularly to oversee a project

To be all over (something)

To be focusing or working hard on a problem. "Trust me, I'll tell you as soon as I know more - I'm all over it."

To monitor and review

To see how something develops over time, and discuss it regularly

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