This week in the Project Shrink question box:
"Are the expectations of stakeholders important to a project managers? And how do you get to know what they are?"
From the question I guess you already know the answer. So here you go: yes, expectations are VERY important.
What people (and therefore your project stakeholders) really, really, really want is what can be termed their interests or, as I sometimes call them, their stakes (hence the name“stakeholder”). With fears there is a stake to lose, and with wishes there is something to gain.
In this context, I consider interests as the aspects that drive people. Before you start drawing your “interest evaluation diagram” or some other tool or technique, be aware that in general these interests are hardly ever communicated. It’s pure mind stuff, all inside the head of the owner. A four-year-old boy may share his true interests with you, but the
fiftyyear-old graying accountant will tell you nothing.
If no one will tell you anything, what is the point? People will tell you something if you ask them. They will tell you they want an ice cream cone, a new hyperspeed Internet uplink, or a new financial software package. In essence, they tell you what they expect. It is a statement created by themselves about a desired situation: their expectations.
So the expectations are indicators about what they think they need.
We can ask them flat out what these are and throw in some other questions to provide us with some useful extra information. You can send these inquiries by e-mail and ask that the responses be returned by e-mail. Especially when the number of stakeholders is large, it’s a very nice, convenient method.
You can include the following questions:
1. What are your expectations of the project?
Just phrase the question as boldly as you can.
2. What is the purpose or mission of the project team?
This Indicates what the stakeholder thinks is the goal of the project.
3. What benefits do you need from the project?
What does the stakeholder have to gain from the project?
4. What are your highest priorities?
Are there any conflicts with other issues? How important is the project for this stakeholder?
5. What resources are you willing to provide to the project?
This indicates the level of commitment and participation.
6. Do you expect some negative consequences from the project?
Has the stakeholder something to lose in the project?
7. What outcome is needed and/or expected from the project?
This gives you explicit expectations about the project results.
8. When should the team’s work be completed? What milestones do you expect?
This gives you explicit expectations about project process.
9. What is the business case for the project?
This indicates the expectations for the business.
10. What organizational policies influence the project?
Policies can be regarded as expectations of the organization.
11. What are your experiences with similar projects (personally and/or departmentally)?
History determines one’s current expectations.
I hope this helps. What do you think?