How to set the right expectations for project delivery?
Setting a clear list of expectation to the client for a project delivery goes a long way to great client relationships. A mismatched and misunderstood project goal and target always leads to dissatisfaction among team members, account head, and all other stakeholders.
I manage a team of a few developers who build web applications in Drupal. While working on projects with my team, I have had the chance to practice a few of the points that I have mentioned in the article. It has not only kept us on track but also kept people happy and motivated.
What should you do?
Be involved from the beginning
When you begin a project makes sure that you and your team members are involved in the project from the beginning. There are times when the team would expand and you have to accommodate a new member. Make sure to walk the new member through the whole project and not just the part of the project they would be working on. This gives a wholesome idea and would help the newbies to understand the context of the work being done.
Involve all stakeholders
Including decision makers and stakeholders during the project planning and goal setting phase will ensure that no unplanned task gets in. This will avoid any last minute changes or any further approvals that would need to be taken later on into the project and help with managing expectations.
Identify pain points
Know exactly what value your project would be creating, know the nitty-gritty of why and how to fully understand the context of the project. To understand how to build the solution the problem statement needs to be understood. That can be done with a proper requirement analysis.
Let the stakeholders know what is possible and what is not. Be clear with the outcomes and process. Also, let your team members know.
Underpromise and overdeliver
If you have a project that will take a month and a half to get over, promise 2 months for so. There might be bottlenecks, you might run into unplanned problems and that might delay your delivery. It is best to set a timeline or task by keeping something in hand. In that way, if you finish before the time that’s a win-win.
Have clear scopes and boundaries - Set realistic goals
When you know something won’t be possible, just let the stakeholders know. In a project define the scope of a task. A particular task can be executed in a lot of ways. Be transparent about the way you would do it and mention the scope of the task. There should not be space for ambiguity.
Set smaller targets, plan - prioritize
You have one end goal in mind - good, break that up into smaller tasks, that way you could make sure to always be on track and time. You have to deliver a project in 6 months - make weekly project plans, review, update and track the progress.
Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and are accountable
When you assign a task to someone, make sure they understand their responsibility. This is a cut-throat world and everyone is busy. No one would want to take up additional responsibilities or clean up one someone else’s behalf, it's just not right. For example, when you assign a coding task to someone, make them understand that they are not to push a buggy code and wait for a QA to see that. When you assign a task, it is important that the responsible person is also accountable for the task.
Communicate - follow up with team
Communication is the key to any collaborative task. Have frequent reviews, meeting and understand how you could help them in the process. Understand that it is you in between the client and the team. If there is a screw up with the project or any of your tasks it is highly likely that you have failed to communicate with your team and that will be a real pain in the back.
Communicate with client
Keep your client updated with the recent happenings, have frequent meetings and understand that all of you are on the same page. Client communications will ensure everyone understands and is on board.
Bottlenecks on the projects are unavoidable, but not knowing about them is a serious offense. Right from the beginning encourage your members to let you know about issues. If issues are escalated to the right authority at the right time it will keep the project from going off track.
Update plan changes
Plans and tracks will often need to be altered. New changes will need to be accommodated. Once you get to know that from your members or from the stakeholders - explain and let people know that. Your members might be working with a project plan in mind and you have another, the sooner they get to know about any change of plans the better it is for managing expectations.
Project management is not a difficult task and communication is the key. We put a lot of emphasis on client communication and stress on the details, that way it ensures we set the right expectations for a project delivery. We deliver high-end experiences in Drupal for Media and Publishing, Hi - Tech and Pharma, all of these for a global clientele while ensuring the right tracks for handling a project.