Other Tips for Understanding Expectations

Given our expanded concept of requirements as expectations, the following tips help in ensuring that your clients ' expectations have been fully understood .

Become a Culture Vulture

You must understand the business culture of your clients. Spend time talking with various people from the client's business area and people from other business areas who work with the client's area. Check out factors such as these:

  • What is their mission statement?

  • How do they recruit new people?

  • How do they train their people?

  • How do they measure performance and what are their performance indicators?

  • How do they celebrate success?

  • How do they deal with mistakes?

  • What formal organization structures exist ”hierarchical, team-based?

Check out the Scenery

The physical working environment and cultural space in which the client's people work can often give you major clues about their culture and attitudes. Look at things such as these:

  • Can people personalize their work spaces?

  • What types of posters , cartoons, and photos are there?

  • Do they have a place where their people can gather for informal meetings?

  • Do they have a formal dress code?

  • Do they socialize together? How? When?

  • What are their common interests besides work, if any?

Learn Their Language

Listen to how your business client speaks and the jargon used when talking about work and private issues. The key issue here is to always ensure that you understand what their terms and jargon mean. Get used to saying something like "I want to get a better understanding of what you just said. Could you please go over it again for me?" Focus on the following:

  • What are the key terms that are used regularly?

  • How much jargon is used?

  • How aggressive , hard, or soft is their language?

  • Is their language based on optimism and hope, or on cynicism, pessimism, and negative attitudes?

  • What metaphors and images are used commonly?

Say It Once, Hear It Many Times

Finally, never interview a client about expectations by yourself. Most people get overloaded during these types of sessions and either misunderstand or simply don't hear certain parts of the interview. At a minimum, have two people discuss requirements. One can ask the questions and focus on the interview process and the other team member can document the interview and follow up on certain issues. Always summarize your understanding of what was said in the interview and send it back to your client for confirmation. Use of tape recorders and so on would depend on the client's culture.

The best option is RAP sessions, which involve the client, other stakeholders, and the project team determining the scope, objectives (functional requirements), quality requirements, constraints, and added value for a project through intensive team-based techniques.

You must meet your client's expectations rather than just their requirements. Doing this requires you to get to know your clients as people first and as clients second:


Understand your client and you'll understand their expectations.

Radical Project Management
Radical Project Management
ISBN: 0130094862
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 136
Authors: Rob Thomsett

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