Setting and Managing Expectations in an IT Project Through Automation Software

Meeting project deadlines amidst last-minute change requests, new additions to requests, and modifications can be challenging.

This requires setting and managing expectations of all the involved stakeholders (client, top management, and the team). Setting expectations is all about delivery and communicating the correct information.

Robust software estimation forms the primary framework which enables setting and managing expectations related to IT projects.

Let us explore how.

Planning Process

The project manager should spend a required amount of time to objectively analyze the primary quantifiable goals that are mutually agreed upon by all the stakeholders. This helps the PM in revisiting the defined goals and seeking the top management’s advice on challenges that might be affecting the defined measurable goal attainment. It is also essential to align the development and marketing goals so that expectation and end objectives can be managed with respect to sales and marketing. This facilitates better team guidance for project delivery. (1)

Communication of exact goals requires detail orientation. In the presence of an automated software estimation tool, the quantifiable goals can be estimated in a consistent manner. The scope document produced has mutual agreement on expected goal attainments which boosts team morale.

Meeting Involving Stakeholders

It is essential to rope in all the stakeholders from the very first day to define goals and set expectations. It can be done by holding two strategic meetings. One meeting is with the development team and the other with the client. Meetings involve working out the details such as requirement analysis, project scoping, time required, and discussion with the marketing and sales team. The meeting enables bringing all of the stakeholders on the same page, with respect to project intricacies and formalities and having clear expectations with respect to the timeline.

Estimation software enables transforming subjectivity of these meetings into objective, action oriented, and specific achievable objectives. Expectations should be quantifiable for better management. An automated tool facilitates that.

Project Requirement Analysis and Goal Setting

The project scoping should chart clear project requirements to prevent hidden requests from creeping into the scope. Minute modifications can affect the estimation of timeline and cost, therefore, any modification from the mutually agreed plan must be thoroughly assessed.

Strategy to attain the goals, potential risks, potential dependencies, delays, and risk mitigation strategies should be clearly defined. Reviewing analysis of the set priorities on a timely basis ensures that focus is maintained.

Once this is done, estimation software should be employed to break each requirement into ‘Use cases’ and related ‘Implementation Type’. Estimation of all categories of effort can be done manually but might vary due to technical variance of estimators.

An automated tool which has prebuilt template involving expert analysis of effort model limits inconsistency and variations. An automated calculation of Developer ramp up effort, Installation effort, deployment effort, build script effort, and version control effort enables objective goal setting.

Communication Process

It is important to take into account the communication methodology in order to maintain the equilibrium between real-time communications, along with daily and weekly reports. The communication process involves developing a communication plan that includes the scope of the project, defined priorities, task owners, status updates. It includes notification methodology when issues arise, or when a particular task is completed.

Right from the estimation phase, the final scope document which goes to the client should be distributed to all developers and analysts involved in the development process. Consistent and standardized communication synchronizes organizational and individual goals.

An automated Software estimation tool with robust project management capabilities can ease communication flow and knowledge sharing. Other than team status, meeting client status reports help in aligning the client and development team with regards to process management, cost estimates, and issue resolution. This promotes a strong client relationship. Such meetings help reviewing and reinforcing set expectations and their management.

Relevant Goal Setting and Role Definition

The milestones should be realistic in nature and attainable too. A calendar should be involved to indicate what tasks have been completed and what needs to be done. Setting realistic target dates ensures correct expectations are set and managed. Robust time estimation involves neither being overoptimistic nor under-optimistic. Every project activity right from development to testing should be estimated and properly justified in the scope document.