Project Expectation Management

Program and Project Management

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Saeed Nadjariun

Project Expectation Management

In managing a project, one of the critical factors that doesn't get enough attention is EXPECTATION management.
No matter what method or process you use to deliver, you must realize that your project will have far reaching impact on many lives. Everyone will have their own perception of what's being delivered. As a project manager, one must make sure that everyone's expectation is managed appropriately. This will help keep everyone's focus on the mission, objectives, and deliverables of a project.
COMMUNICATION is at the heart of expectation management, which helps us with establishing a balance between expectations and realities surrounding a project.

  Jose Daniel Esterkin
CEO, Argentina
 

Identifying the Expectations of Project Stakeholders

It is not enough to deliver on the CUSTOMER's demands; successful projects have to meet ALL stakeholder expectations.
This is a tough target because each stakeholder has a different idea of what constitutes "success" of the project.

IDENTIFYING THE EXPECTATIONS OF PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS
One of the most beneficial and yet neglected activities in project work is taking the time to clarify mutual expectations with the stakeholders. Don't assume that you already know by gut feeling what all of the other parties want, are going to do, how they'll behave, and what they'll deliver to your project. There are countless situations where a project ends and one or more parties are disappointed.

Delivering the correct product or service, which performs as the customer (and all other stakeholders) expect, is no accident. Practices developed and established within the quality discipline can be applied to the project management discipline. This integration begins as the project is conceived and carries forward until the outcome of the project is created and is accepted by the customer. These practices focus on clearly understanding what the stakeholders want and consciously planning to deliver it, including methods for ensuring the product will be correctly built.

IDENTIFYING THE PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS
Obviously, before you can ask them about their expectations, you need to identify all the stakeholders of your project, and that is not so simple as it seems. Who will be affected negatively or positively by this project?

Well, there is no magic for this, or a specific methodology. Here are two approaches you can use in most of the projects:
1. EXPERT JUDGEMENT: you invite some experts who have experience in the industry or the technology related to the project. You ask them who they think this project will impact. You document their responses and try to use this information for identifying individuals or groups that will be affected.
2. STAKEHOLDER IDENTIFICATION WORKSHOP: you coordinate a practical workshop that uses creativity techniques to identify stakeholders. Example: you distribute post-it notes and ask participants to write stakeholders names or groups the project is going to affect. You give them keywords to help them do this: "processes", "technology", "business", "users", "clients", etc.

Source: Lynda Bourne (2006), "Project Relationships and the Stakeholder Circle"

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