Who wants what: Expectations Management

September 30, 2009

The real tool that helps a project manager to manage expectations of a stakeholder is a realistic report of project progress. That should include keeping your stakeholders informed of any changes. Changes that has happened as well as anticipated changes need to be known. A range of tools can help you do that. Following is a discussion of these tools that can be used effectively to manage stakeholder’s expectations. What the tools do is to let you communicate effectively. The information distribution assets also are tools. In a sense that you communicate the reality through these documents, meetings, conferences, personal discussions etc.

The tools that can be used effectively include communication methods, interpersonal and management skills etc. The outputs that are effective include organizational process management updates, change requests, project management plan updates and project document updates.

Communication management plan that has the stakeholder communication profile is a direct implement one can use for expectation management. Interpersonal skills that can be used effectively include ability to build trust, resolve conflict, active listening and the ability to overcome resistance to change.

Management skills are the skills that let you take a group and motivate them to achieve goals as a cohesive team. You control and direct the group so as to coordinate and harmonize their efforts to achieve a multiplier effects of a team. A manager needs to bring in his presentation skills, negotiating, writing skills as well as public speaking skills.

Many of the information items, updates etc. output that are generated for the stakeholder expectation management, are the tools that help manage expectations in the form of putting up a true and realistic picture as far as possible. The first item to consider would be the organizational process assets updates. You add issues to these updates to bring them as close to current reality as possible. Issue log is like a reality check. It lists all the issues, resolved or otherwise in respect of the project. So updates must go out in information distribution often. Reasoning behind corrective action chosen also is an indicator of current collective wisdom. Asset update output also updates any changes in approach to a stakeholder’s expectations.

Change requests also may be required to meet the stakeholder expectations. The change requests may call for corrective and or preventive actions for a product or the project. Project management plan update will usually apply to communication plan changes. This manages the expectations in the sense that the change required could be deleting some ineffective form of communication, communication recipients to be added or deleted etc.

There are several project documents that could prove to be useful in managing expectations. The updates of stakeholder management strategy improve upon the strategy currently in use. The need for update may come out of addressing an issue or resolving an issue. It may also be due to a stakeholder’s need for additional information. Updates to stakeholder register also could be a weapon in your arsenal as this change may be due to identification of a new stakeholder or changes in the needs of a specific stakeholder.

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