What Are Expectations?

The word expectations has probably been abused and misunderstood more than any other word in the project culture. To many project managers and systems analysts, expectations are simply those elements of the requirements that were not specified by the client. To others, expectations are the difference between what the client wants and what the client really needs. For the battle- hardened project manager, expectations are a wish list that begins a series of hard negotiations to reduce the expectations to minimum requirements. Finally, expectations are a hopelessly vague set of requirements that defy documentation.

However, it is our experience that expectations are a related set of specific factors that can be analyzed and modeled . It's just that data flow, data model, and other system-oriented techniques do not capture all the requirements for a business system.

When business experts talk about expectations, they talk about seven related sets of criteria or drivers:

  • Degree of stakeholder satisfaction: How do the clients feel about the project?

  • Meeting objectives and requirements: What do the clients want from the project?

  • Meeting budget: How much are the clients prepared to pay?

  • Meeting deadlines: When do the clients want it?

  • Added-value requirements: Why do the clients want the project?

  • Quality requirements: How well does the product have to be built?

  • Team satisfaction: How good does the team have to feel about the project?

We have discussed this concept with thousands of project and business people and they all agree that this model is superior to the simpler iron triangle approach.


The worst time to define project success is after it is over.

As we explain later, this model is also a very powerful tool for project planning and negotiation.

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

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