One of the most important lessons I ever learned in business was how to manage expectations. I know it sounds simple and maybe even minor, but this lesson is quite possibly the single greatest aspect of a project. Handling expectations correctly is more important than adding features or completing the work perfectly. Here’s how I discovered this truism.

Every time I ran late on a project but didn’t keep the client informed as to what was happening or why things were late there was horrible backlash (duh). The client was frustrated, upset, and even angry. This part is obvious. The second part was when I realized how important managing expectations truly was. I found even when we delivered the perfect project at just the right time and met every requirement the result was a satisfied client but nothing more. The realization hit home.

Regardless of any other factor, managing the clients expectations, providing clear and concise feedback, and being open in communication was of utmost importance. If things fell behind the client understands if they are made aware throughout the process. If things succeed, and the project is finished well when the client is kept in the loop suddenly the result is not just acceptance and satisfaction but rather elation!

Expectations is clearly of utmost importance. Possibly the most important. Manage them well and watch mere satisfaction turn to enthusiastic praise.