Managing client expectations – Basic Guide

Posted by in Blog

Did you know anything about managing client expectations? This is basic information that can be useful.

Most of you faced situations when delivered product appeared below client’s expectation level. There can be many reasons caused this circumstances but most of them were caused because of expectation management mistakes or it’s absence.

Managing client expectations

In all of the situations, especially when we speak about project management, we should first check what we determine as project goal and what requirements were declared on project start. Level of understanding of goals and, especially, requirements can be completely different for some different people according to their level of competency.

You can call yourself a lucky person if your clients understand such things like scope, functional/non-functional requirements, etc, but mostly they don’t. Expected result is obvious for client. No matter how quickly you can catch the idea and ask important questions before you will have to estimate the project, some part of expectations will be outside of your understanding and scope.

Expectation types

First of all try to determine the expectations type:

  • Realistic
  • Unrealistic
  • Implicit
  • Explicit
  • Fuzzy

What is realistic expectation? Sometimes it can be determined only in case of time available for expectation development and implementation. Unrealistic in therm of one day, it could be possible if you have more time. So time is NOT elastic and time can make many expectations realistic. What do you need to make them so? You need proper estimates and clear details, e.g. requirements.

Business goals

Business goals that were determined as requirements could add time deficit in the middle of development process:

Bad requirements –> Bad understanding of expectations –> Bad estimate –> Time deficit –> Unsatisfied expectations

Meaning and understanding are very different for every client. Explicit requirements are the result of your work, not client’s. Try to clarify each statement, each feature. By doing this you will provoke client to re-imagine his product, will allow client to clearly understand what should happen on each step. Ask him to explain feature goals, understand customer’s goal for this feature.

How is it relative to another functionality?

You’ll see how expectations become more clear for you and client. Determined amount of work could be expanded so you’ll be able to protect larger timelines for realization, to add more specific details to project plan. By the way, it will allow you to have more information for QA and project protection at the end.