One of a project manager’s biggest tasks is keeping a project on track in the face of constant requests for changes and additions. It is for this reason that managing the expectations of project stakeholders from the outset of the project and having a strategy in place to deal with scope creep are both crucially important.
So how do project managers ensure that there is a complete understanding and alignment of project goals and expectations? Here are our top 5 tips for managing expectations and keeping projects on track.
1. Get involved in the planning
This is the very first step in expectation management. Often project might be proposed by senior management with little understanding of what will be involved in the execution of the project. It is up to you as the project manager to get involved at the start and plan the project in detail with senior management. By working together to define objectives that are agreed on, these can be referred back to later if any issues arise.
2. Get all stakeholders involved
Once again, this is a crucial step that should take place at the beginning of the project. Involving the project team from the beginning will allow all project stakeholders to voice their thoughts and concerns during the planning phase. Not only will this help to create a more accurate project plan, but stakeholders will also feel comfortable with the project goals if they have been agreed on together.
3. Clearly define project scope and deadlines
Having a clearly defined scope from the beginning is important in keeping everyone on the same page and avoiding creep. Even little changes can accumulate and start to cause scope creep, so identifying all of the key points and potential risks early and creating a clearly defined strategy will help to mitigate this. Included in the strategy should be realistic project deadlines that your team should review weekly, keeping them moving forward together toward the project goals.
4. Define responsibilities and create accountability
Managing everyone’s expectations of their own role within the project from the beginning is critical. Make sure that each team member has a clear understanding of how they fit into the project, how it all fits together, and their accountability within the overall strategy.
5. Keep communication open and transparent
This is perhaps the most important point in ongoing expectation management. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your team, as well as between team members themselves, will ensure that goals are consistently aligned. A good communications strategy will keep each member of the team aware of all of their tasks and relative deadlines. Calendars and milestones with notifications can also keep everyone at the correct point in the project.
Regular status meetings should also be organised to review the project status in a face-to-face meeting, allowing the team to be honest and work together to overcome any roadblocks and challenges.
Looking for more project management tips? Check out Top 5 Tips for Project Management Success