Setting and managing project expectations can be difficult, but it is one of the most important parts of any project. It is your job to manage expectations of both stakeholders and clients, ensuring everyone is on the same page. For that to happen, you will need to avoid the mistakes mentioned below:
Mistake 1 – Lying when something goes wrong
No amount of project management training can stop things from going wrong. It does not matter how experienced you are, there are always hurdles along the way. It is important to be honest, specific, transparent, and open. If a problem arises unexpectedly, you have to provide precise, clear information about it.
Mistake 2 – Failing to plan for potential conflicts and problems
You need to consider potential technology and resource challenges that may emerge when managing projects and deadlines. Make sure you allocate time for undiscovered work, and put together a contingency plan for it. Many project managers simply assume that their project is going to follow the intended path, but they do not plan for undiscovered and unanticipated work, which will always happen in the end.
Mistake 3 – Failing to provide stakeholders with regular updates
If you do not communicate with your stakeholders regularly, you can inevitably end up on different pages. Send reminders to the stakeholders of upcoming deadlines, and you should also communicate the details of any delays or problems that happen.
Mistake 4 – Failing to set milestones
You need to show the client how you expect the project to progress by setting milestones. Before moving onto each subsequent milestone, you need to allow the client to see your work and approve it. By doing this, any small issues can be addressed so that they do not turn into something bigger.
Mistake 5 – Being optimistic with your schedule
Setting a realistic schedule is important. In fact, you are advised to pad your schedule a bit just in case. This enables you to accommodate any issues or delays. The best thing to do is start from the committed date and work backwards when creating a schedule. Once you have done this, pad the schedule with buffer weeks.
Mistake 6 – Not building in a discovery period
In most cases, a project will start with a kick-off meeting. Stakeholders will immediately want a timing for a first draft of the product or they will want a final delivery date. This can cause project managers to provide a rough estimate, as they are not in a position to give an accurate date. When this occurs, you need to build in a clearly defined discovery period so that you have the capacity to determine the true scope of the project.
So there you have it; six of the common mistakes you need to avoid when setting and managing expectations for your project. There is no denying that this is one of the most difficult aspects of any project. However, if you can be honest, provide stakeholders with regular updates, be realistic with your schedule, and set milestones, you will find it much easier.