How to Set Client Project Expectations

Well defined client and stakeholder expectations at the start of a project lays a robust foundation.

Precisely, this is why a lot of thought goes into the initiation phase of the project management methodology.

Building the business case, outlining the problem & providing a glimpse of the probable solutions and results that gets your clients excited enough to open their wallets.

Now, in a more B2B scenario, time, quality and cost are major talking points. But, clarity around the key deliverables, milestones and delivery schedules are of prime focus.

Read on to learn quick actionable tips that go a long way in building trust and gaining customer confidence.

Communicate to ensure understanding

We all do a lot of communication during the course of a project. Use the top notch collaboration and project management tools to exchange information.

Those are smart things to do, but the real deal is in making sure the message is understood well without any gaps.

This warrants, having a solid communication plan.

Note, the client is interested in deriving the maximum business value from his investment.

The expected outcomes maybe strategic or tactical. Hence, even before you get into project execution make sure the client and you:

  • Have the same understanding of the deliverables
  • Agree on any assumptions that have been taken into account
  • Are clear on the milestone timelines
  • Have listed out any unanswered questions
  • Have defined the change management process to handling execution deviations
  • Have an absolute understanding and agreement on the project scope
  • Have identified associated risks and are ok to deal with them when the time comes

Some common documents that you should prepare and share with the client are

  • Risk Register
  • Scope (SRS, FSD etc.)
  • Project Schedule – preferably a Gantt Chart
  • Payment Schedule
  • Change Management process

Note: The above list is indicative and can also be covered as separate sections within an overarching project agreement or proposal document based on what works best for your business.

Benefits:

  • Client has a very clear understanding of what will be done and when.
  • You demonstrate your thoroughness and attention to detail.
  • Less ambiguity also means less anxiety for your client & hence minimal distractions.
  • Client engagement and feedback mechanism improves.
  • You also minimize chances of scope creep.

Maintain higher Client Engagement levels

In a typical project delivery scenario, clients often feel left out or recuse themselves from the execution humdrum.

Many clients only check back at the appointed milestone delivery dates and may remain incommunicado before that.

You must prevent this from happening at all costs because

  • A non-responsive client may jeopardize project progress or the entire project altogether.
  • Your and client and you may get out of sync due to lack of info on the most current events at either ends.
  • Lack of feedback will restrict project progress.
  • Teams may not receive required info critical to the project.
  • An uneasy uncertainty sets in within the team leading to chaos and demotivation.

How to you keep your clients engaged?

1. Make your Client a part of your execution team

Introduce your team to the client. Setup a kick-off meeting and let the client interact with the project team and understand the key personnel and their roles.

It helps set the tone for the execution, teams get to hear the project objectives and goals directly from the client.

And in turn the client sees the depth of your expertise, preparedness, understands how things will be set in motion and is more likely to contribute.

Adding a hint of informal and more human touch to the scheme of things.

Setup a project within your chosen project management tool and add your client too so that he receives timely notifications, alerts and status updates.

2. Set up regular cadence and checkpoint meetings

This one works like a charm. Trust me! If done right, there is a more sense of commitment and accountability at both ends.

I would go as far as to say that there is a healthy competition at both ends to stay on top of project events.

This means greater focus, motivation and participation.

Maintain rigor by sharing the calendar upfront with the key participants and agenda for each of these calls.

Kanban and Scrum board offer robust agile project management capabilities to track progress, identify roadblocks, seek feedback and execute faster.

3. Centralize all information both for your clients and teams

Project execution can get messy with tons of emails, chats, documents, excel sheets, WhatsApp pings and what not. We all have been there.

So do not get lost in transit!

Task collaboration and project management software offer robust capabilities such as:

As a result, everyone knows what information to access, when and where.

Similarly, execution huddles, brainstorming, approvals are done quick and in real time preventing geographical barriers from impeding your progress.

Overall, expectations on either ends are more transparent and both strive to hold their end of the bargain.

Conclusion: What do you finally achieve?

Adopting the right project collaboration software first of all eliminates barriers to running smooth execution. It brings your clients and project teams together.

Both know what to communicate, whom to communicate, when and how.

Secondly, when your clients can access the project management tool in real-time it reduces their anxiety pre-emptively. Why?

What it means for your clients is that:

  • Clients see project progress and execution in real time for themselves.
  • Actions mean a lot to them. It gives them a cushy feeling of getting closer to their objective.
  • Focus is always on the project goal by both the client and the team.
  • Greater alignment with project objectives prevent distraction.
  • Shared understanding reduces, rather prevents conflicts to a great extent.
  • Constant client engagement and participation is maintained.
  • There is a greater sense of ownership and accountability.

Lastly, all project stakeholders understand the fact that “we’re in it together”!

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