One of the most important functions for any project manager is managing the expectations of the client and/or business stakeholders.
This role has only grown more important in an Agile era highlighted by rapid application development and continuous delivery. In many cases, the PM sits in between the technical team doing the work and the customer hoping and waiting for a successful conclusion.
With a copacetic project lifecycle in mind, here are a few ideas on handling customer expectations, while not overpromising the “what” and the “when” of what’s delivered. Good luck!
Clear and Measurable Goals are Important
The goals of any technology undertaking need to be clearly set and measurable. A website upgrade aimed at increasing traffic needs to explicitly state the goal of how many new visitors over a certain period. A meaningful reporting system is another must-have to accurately measure this traffic growth.
Consider using SMART goals on your next project. SMART is an acronym used in project management circles since the early 80s. It typically stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Trackable is an especially useful replacement for Time-based, depending on your specific project needs.
Get Buy-in on the High-Level Goals
It is important the business stakeholders on a project agree to all of the initiative’s goals at a high level. Going through the work breakdown structures for each goal is probably overkill. Just make sure everyone understands the overall expectations and a general agreement exists.
Contingency Plan for a Successful Implementation
One easy assumption with any technology project is the progress won’t always go as expected. Having a set of time-based contingency plans helps ensure your team is able to deliver on the customer expectations.
For example, a goal to have a feature completed by a certain date is nice, but create an implementation contingency that adds extra resources to the task if sufficient progress isn’t made with two weeks (or another period) before the final deadline. This is called an implementation intention strategy, and it is an essential part of any successful project plan.
Proactive Communication is a Must
Keeping those communication channels flowing freely is vital, especially with your clients and business stakeholders. This is an essential part of managing expectations and delivering meaningful results to your customers. Make sure everyone on the project – including the technical team – stays in the loop.
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