Posted by: kerrywills | October 29, 2010

Manage expectations


One of the most important consultative skills that a Project Manager can use is to manage expectations. This comes in many forms…

  • Expectations of stakeholders around level of confidence and information involved in project estimates
  • Expectations of deliverable completion and target dates vs saying the day something is due that it won’t meet the date
  • Expectations of the team members around the scope of work and project commitments

Managing expectations for projects is really important. Let’s take the scenario where work will take 12 months to complete. If the expectation is set that the work will be done in 14 months and you come in 2 months early, then you are seen as a miracle worker. However, if the expectation is set that the work will be done in 10 months then you come in looking like a clown. The punchline, though, is that in both scenarios it took 12 months to do the work. Therefore, having a solid estimate and setting realistic expectations up front is critical.

Estimating is another important area to manage expectations on. Since there are different levels of confidence and information available for estimates it is important to explain to your business partners what each estimate means.  This is especially important early in a project when a high level estimate is done. Without explaining the level of information, confidence and proces to evolve the estimates youmay be held to an initial estimate which was made with very little information.

To be clear: I expect you to manage expectations

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