Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· andreathegiant

Check Expectations, Regularly

Misaligned expectations is where a large number of project based issues arise after implementation has begun. Does this (extremely simplified) scenario sound at all familiar?

Client: "[Feature A] is broken."

Project Manager: "[Feature A] is not broken. It works as designed."

Client: "When we originally talked about [Feature A], I thought it would do [Out of scope functionality and/or graphic design component B].

Project Manager: "It does not currently do that. It can, but it will take extra funds."

Client: "I don't want to pay extra, it was implied that [Out of scope functionality and/or graphic design component B] would be a part of this original scope.

In this situation, the project manager is faced with a difficult situation. The project manager must either correct the expectation for the unscoped component, or must swallow the loss.

The only way to prevent this situation from arising, in so much as is possible, is by ensuring aligned expectations before implementation. If there are features that you implement frequently, such as an event listing, create a list of all the possible things that you could do with this feature. In the case of the event listing, this could be a list much like the following:

  • Showing the event location on a map
  • Ability to search for events closest to you by zip code
  • Free event registration
  • Paid event registration
  • Gridded calendar view of events
  • Past events list
  • Categorization of events

...and so on. When initially discussing the scope with the client, lay out all of these possibilities, and allow them to choose what is pertinent to the goals of their project. Additionally, allow them to assign priorities to each of these possibilities (e.g. must have, nice to have, etc). This way, expectations will be aligned from the get go.

If this cannot be done before the scope is closed and signed, it is best to reaffirm what is a part of the scope during the design process, rather than during implementation. This, while still disappointing, will avoid developer re-work, and will ultimately save the client time and money.

Go forth and align expectations!