Project management 101: Setting expectations

I have written quite a bit in the past about the importance of having a project plan. We all know how to create them and we can create a flawless plan on paper. But how do we manage expectations? How do we know going into the project what each side wants?

NEMT President Linda Allard

As the president of a company that is normally the vendor, I am always a bit concerned about telling a client what my expectations are. I am also a client at times and I don’t always sit and have a talk with my vendors about what I expect. Unfortunately, if neither side is stating their expectations to the other side, it is difficult for them to be met. Everyone tends to make a lot of assumptions. This can lead to an unhappy client as well as an unhappy vendor and it doesn’t serve either side well.

Why don’t we discuss our expectations with each other? On the side of the vendor, is it fear? Are we so excited to have the business that we don’t want to rock the boat? From the client side, we have written a contract and specified what we want, so we think that it states all the expectations. The fact is that a contract will never have all the nuances and expectations that a client wants. It will state the basics, but it leaves out all the little details. In fact, sometimes the contract can cause issues by its very nature. Lawyers tend to have their own language, if you know what I mean. As a vendor there are things we need in order to provide the best level of service that we can.

The next time you have a contract negotiation, a new project or even a new employee, I encourage you to sit down and set your expectations with that person or company in the beginning. It doesn’t need to be lengthy or difficult. It can be friendly and casual. I guarantee that it will save a lot of disappointment on both sides.


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About Linda Allard

Linda Allard is the president of NEMT.
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