Dear Bob ...
Like just about everyone else, our IT budget has been shot to pieces. That's OK -- I've had to lay people off before and I've had to kill promising projects before. These things happen.
What I'm not used to is a team of executives (and I use the term "team" pretty loosely -- these people have no sense of teamwork at all), each of whom act as if my budget was just doubled. I'm serious. Every one of them is on my back to take care of his or her crash-and-burn project faster than we could have done it fully staffed.
I've tried explaining the facts of life, over and over again, and what I get in response is, "A high-school kid could put this together for me in Excel in a couple of days. Why are you telling me it needs seven people for six months?"
Any thoughts on how to bring a dose of reality into the discussion?
Dear Overwhelmed ...
First, make a list. Sit down with each exec and ask them if they could get only one project done, what it would be. The rule for the discussion: They describe their projects in terms of business change, not in terms of software requirements ("We need to improve productivity in the warehouse by picking items more efficiently," not "We need an inventory picking system enhancement.")
Next, call a meeting with your business analysts. Walk them through the full list, then parcel out the requests based on each analyst's expertise and ability to get along with the various execs. In this discussion, let them know you're looking for quick solutions that are good enough, not elegant solutions that will withstand the test of time. Their job is to figure out how to get each exec most of the improvement they're looking for and quickly, not all of the improvements they'd like done the "right way."
This means that if a twice-a-day batch extract into Microsoft Access is good enough, there's no need to create a real-time SOA-driven interface. It means that a once-a-night dump-and-load into Excel might be a better answer than enhancing the data warehouse and its business intelligence interface.
It might mean nothing more than teaching their staff how to assign tasks to each other using plain-vanilla Microsoft Outlook, instead of deploying a full-blown, enterprise-scale integrated project management solution.