How to Set Project Expectations

Setting project expectations is simple if you use the right tools and communication techniques. But every project, client, and team is different, so there is no one size fits all solution. That’s why we’ve outlined the art of how to set project expectations below. 

Keep reading to learn more about how adding transparency and visibility into your project management process will help improve goal alignment. Then, check out some unique and creative project management expectation tips you can implement right away. Finally, discover the most common project management expectations and how to best communicate with stakeholders.

Why transparency is key

Transparency in project management means open and honest communication in every area. It also involves letting key stakeholders and clients in on the process of each project. 

Transparency is key in professional services management because it helps teams reach their goals and manage client relationships. Here are just a few benefits of learning how to manage client expectations: 

  • It builds loyalty. Transparency allows stakeholders to trust that your team has their best interests at heart. When they can look at visual representations of how their time and budget are being spent, clients can see how team efforts map to higher portfolio goals. 
  • It improves feedback. When project tasks and goals are neatly laid out, clients and team members can provide fast and accessible feedback.
  • It prevents scope creep. Did you know that nearly half of all project experience scope creep? Avoid this common project management mistake now with transparency. Set project expectations now so clients can understand which future requests of theirs can and cannot be accommodated. 

How best to manage client project expectations

Managing client expectations is all about communicating information in a fun and memorable way with visual tools, charts, and data that help get everyone on the same page. Give these creative tips a go if managing expectations in project management is a top priority for you and your team:

1. Try Gantt charts

Use Gantt charts to create a visual representation of your resource breakdown and project timeline. Communicate limitations and add value with creative solutions already baked into your Gantt charts. 

2. Come up with client FAQs and hold a wording workshop 

Train professional services employees on how to word communications that set expectations through effective emails, phone calls, and meeting agendas. Offer your team three to five common project expectations and FAQs from past clients. This rewards better, clearer responses.

Take this time to come together and address how you will manage project expectations as a group. As a team, come up with a template response for digital communications that everyone can personalize as needed. 

3. Design team member trading cards 

Make trading cards for each of your key project members using a free and easy tool such as MyTradingCards. Add each team member’s photo then insert their job title, primary role in the project, and key skills. This will set project expectations for who is on the client’s team and provide a quick reference point for virtual or in-person meetings. 

4. Incorporate creative TikToks and GIFs 

Lighten the mood with some custom made project expectation do’s and don'ts. Show clients some love by incorporating GIFs and social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Send GIFs and social media posts as an email or a shared document in your project management solution.

Communicate with stakeholders

Transparently communicate project expectations with stakeholders using these practical solutions: 

  • Make status reports easy to access. Give stakeholders their own view of your project dashboard that displays the most up to date data at-a-glance information. This saves time emailing on new information back and forth.
  • Centralize all notes, documents, and resources. Add them all to one searchable database that your stakeholders can refer to as needed. 
  • Set process goals. Project goals focus on the final product while process goals are based on the journey to get there. Set expectations with your stakeholders through concrete process goals such as individual task deadlines so they get an idea of how your team will realistically get from the beginning to the end. 

Bring it all home: Introduce clients to project management software

Now you know all of the valuable benefits of transparency in project management. You also have some innovative solutions for how to set project expectations and communicate with stakeholders. Bring all of these strategies together with one powerful tool: project management software. 

Project management software provides all the above benefits and can offer crystal clear communication between you and your clients throughout your project. Try Wrike’s free trial and see how you can quickly and easily get everyone on the same page no matter what project phase you’re in. 

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