Thursday, July 9, 2009

Managing Expectations

Everyone has expectations. Your clients (internal or external), your co-workers, your manager, and even family and friends have expectations of you. Managing expectations, in my opinion, is a huge part of our life, especially at work.

We work in a high paced, highly fluid environment; where managing expectations are critical. Change requests to requirements are frequent and not always documented.

According to The Consulting Academy and Brazos Consulting:
Expectations are deeper and broader than "requirements:"
Expectations are your client's vision of a future state or action, usually unstated but which is critical to your success: A client who "wants the project to be quick and dirty," or who "wants to be involved in all the details" or "not involved at all," or who expects that your project will result in "reducing his work force by 80%."

Expectations are set by all kinds of events. Something you said or did, or even the way you said it, something somebody else said or did, or something the client picked up from somewhere else. But it's important to know that expectations, rational or irrational, valid or invalid, are not developed in a vacuum.
So we have requirements; that state what you are creating and how it should work, and expectations; what the client perceives the application can do. In most cases the two are not even close.

Client A requests an application to track employee training. They submit the requirements, ask some questions and off they go knowing what the application you are building does. Over time they see other systems and how they function, may talk to a co-worker to see if the functionality can be added in to their app. Now the co-worker, not having a clue what you are doing says “Sure Notes can do that”. Do you see where I am going?

The Intranet Journal has a very good article titled Managing Project Expectations . Six Keys to Successfully Managing Expectations
1. Know Your Capabilities
2. Set Clearly Defined Expectations
3. Educate and Empathize
4. Be Realistic
5. Continuous Monitoring
6. Communicate Early and Often

A key take away form the article is:
When defining expectations, resort back to the SMART rule of goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Most importantly, make sure all parties are in agreement with what the expectations are from all parties. Again, perception is reality.

So while properly managed expectations should not have an adverse effect on the outcome of your Lotus Notes Development or Administration project

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