How to manage project expectations is a favorite topic of any project manager. Effectiveness of this process is as important as communication or risk management. So, what is an project expectations management? It is all about bringing users, customers, project sponsors and other interested people to the same result. At the end neither of the parties should be disappointed with the outcome.
This can be achieved by communicating on the expected results, visualizing them in every way and constantly recalling the purpose of the project.
Effective interaction is the basis for successful project management. It is vitally important for you to understand the cultural characteristics of your environment and the factors affecting it.
Always be open to communication with other people. You should be able to listen to what your team members say or ask. The more you know, the better you are prepared to make decisions. Buy knowledge and sell solutions so as not to pay for mistakes.
Probably, this is the most obvious and the most important stage of project. It will be difficult or impossible to manage project expectations if you do not have some initial agreement with your client. There are two main tools to help you. The first is project Charter, one of the tasks of which is the confirmation of the agreement of the project team and client. It contains volume, delivery results, assumptions, risks, budget, timing, etc. Another obvious tool is the specification of requirements. Drawing up such specification requirements and getting them approved by the customer is also an effective step toward achieving the original agreement.
Having reached the initial agreement with the client, you need that all significant changes to the project pass through the change management procedure, that is, they need to be reviewed and approved by the client. Only, in this case, the customer’s expectations will be managed in a proper fashion.
Here is some good advice how to manage project expectations. A customer who has not received some fantastic results during the first days/weeks might be deceived, as their best expectations have not been met. They will then think that the money they spent on the project is lost. The ability to communicate on the results is a very valuable quality for any project manager. Similarly, you need to reduce the degree of negativity if the result of the project is disliked in advance, but this, strangely enough, is often easier.
After reaching an initial agreement, you should continue to proactively communicate the necessary information about the project through regular status updates. Those are reporting and other activities that you envisage in the Communication Management Plan. It is especially important not to withhold from the client the difficulties and complexities that may someday affect the initial agreements. The main purpose of such communications is to avoid so-to-say shocks. All the latest project updates should be delivered to the client by you.
A project manager, fulfilling their duties, regularly assesses how the project is going. This assessment must be correlated with the current expectations of the client. If you spot some discrepancies, you must take proper measures to return the project to the framework of the arrangements and bring all the circumstances together with the measures taken to the client.
You also need to voice the expected problems or complexities (risks), especially if they are on the client’s side and must be addressed by them. That is why, evaluating performance is one of the important project management skills.
Another problem is that teams and project managers do not have a tool to manage ongoing project. Sometimes they use a software, but many of these tools don’t have a indepth reporting feature. It is crucial to have the right project management tool, as it can spot important project performance changes.
Having reached the initial agreement, you will try to stick to it. One of the common mistakes committed by many managers is that if the agreement is broken, they avoid admitting it to the client. On the contrary, the client should, first of all, learn about this from you, together with the reasons and prospects.
Having discovered that the original agreement cannot be fulfilled, you must state the circumstances to the client and propose to adjust it. If you have previously effectively communicated and kept the client up to date with the main project development stages, the client will be ready for such a conversation.
In order to facilitate the adjustment of the agreements, you should spend more time preparing for a conversation and offer a number of different options for a new solution. For example, you can make less for the same amount of money, deliver on the project later, increase the budget, partially reduce the quality requirements, etc. If the client finds the solution that best suits their needs, you can renew the agreement on the main parameters of the project, and the expectations will be adjusted accordingly.
Consider the finished work with the client to determine how satisfied they are with the outcome. If needed, check with the client if you can do anything to ensure that the expectations are met in full.
Written by Emily Watts – a college professor, Investment teacher, mother of two, enjoys kite surfing and rafting. She also provides professional academic papers at www.australianwritings.com.au.