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Running head: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

Managing Expectations Project Management MBA

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS Abstract

This paper looks at different ways a project manager can influence a customers expectations and perceptions. One key recommendation is in setting realistic expectations for the customer upfront. If you can under promise and over deliver with timelines and other milestones for the project, you will have a better chance exceeding the customers expectations. The ultimate success of the project is not determined whether it came in on budget or on time, but whether the customer was satisfied with what was accomplished (Larson & Gray, 2011). After the project has been approved, the project manager and team need to work closely with the customer to develop a project scope statement that clearly states key expectations and limitations for the project. Active involvement from the customer is highly encouraged. The more they are involved in the process, the more they will understand any problems that come up that could impact the success of the project. Customer perceptions of performance are shaped more by how well the project teams deals with adversity than by actual performance (Larson & Gray, 2011). When project managers follow some of these methods, they will have a much higher chance of exceeding their customers expectations.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS Managing Expectations Project managers can have a great deal of influence on managing customer expectations. Since the ultimate success of any project is not whether it finished on time or on budget, but whether the customer is satisfied with the outcome of the project (Larson & Gray, 2011). To

start, it is important to involve the customer in the planning process. The more input they have at the beginning of a project, the better chance their expectations will be met at the end. When the project is authorized to move forward, the project manager needs to work closely with the customer to develop a project scope statement that clearly states the objectives, parameters and limits of the project (Larson & Gray, 2011). When you give the client a detailed project management plan at the beginning of the project, you can establish the scope of the project and the motives behind it (Managing Expectations, 2010). The plan also covers the goals and objectives, success criteria, and major project deliverables. At this time you also want to detail any known constraints that could later affect the projects success or the clients outcome. You can also clarify how the project will be organized define each stakeholders role and responsibilities to help minimize or avoid communication breakdowns over the course of the project. It is also helpful to clearly define your strategies for monitoring and reporting on the progress of the project, and how risks will be monitored and resolved. To properly manage expectations, it is critical for the project manager to set realistic expectations for the customer. You never want to over promise and under deliver. If you think the project will take 8 weeks to complete, set the expectation for 10 weeks and then over deliver. It is also important to make it clear from the offset that the project is going to need a lot of the Acceptors time and that they will be actively involved (Managing Expectations, 2010). Getting

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS agreement and buy-in from all levels of the customers organization when necessary is also important. If management is not involved from the start, success during the process can be hindered. The project manager has to get buy-in from the customer to the project management process. Making sure that the customer understands, values, and buys-in to the approach to the project and its supporting processes, e.g., change control, decision requests, etc. (Borysowich, 2008). A great way to accomplish this is to hold a one day kick-off meeting with the customer. During the meeting, you can address key concepts, the human side of project management and the importance of regular communication. Other important factors include keeping the risks visible. There is a saying, think

negatively during the planning process and positively after the project has started (Borysowich, 2008). The point is to keep the customer involved in managing risks. You also want to inform the customer early and often about any potential problem areas. If you are honest and open with them, you will build their trust and it will keep open lines of communication. Customer perceptions of performance are shaped more by how well the project team deals with adversity than by actual performance (Larson & Gray, 2011). To exceed customer expectations, project managers need to set clear expectations, under promise, over deliver, get buy-in and involvement early and often from the customer and, keep communication clear, open and honest.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS References Borysowich, C. (2008, July 13). Managing customer expectations. Toolbox.com. Retrieved June 2, 2012, from http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/enterprise-solutions/managing-customerexpectations-25950 Larson, E. W., & Gray, C. F. (2011). Project management: The managerial process (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin. Managing Expectations: How to Keep IT Project Clients Informed and Happy. (2010, February

3). Managing Expectations: How to Keep IT Project Clients Informed and Happy : Small Business Resources/Blog from TechInsurance. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.techinsurance.com/blog/it-managers/it-managers-manage-client-expectations/