Negotiating and Managing Project Expectations

One of the many factors in project cost overruns is due to setting unreasonable expectations. Whether working as a consultant outside a company or as a project manager within a company, all too often we become “yes” men to secure a deal or please superiors. We may win in the short term by getting the job or by delaying management’s wrath by telling them what they want to hear, but, in the long run, both scenarios are losers. As a consultant you land the gig and wind up with bad word of mouth advertising as being late and over budget. As an internal project manager you develop a reputation of being unreliable and/or overly optimistic. Instead, be real and upfront about duration and costs of expected projects. Give pushback to help set reasonable expectations. Maybe someone else will promise the moon? You should challenge competitors’ unreasonable assertions. You may still wind up losing the deal, but in the long run you will maintain your reputation and eventually land more deals because of it. Short term pain for long term gain is tough in this economy. What is your word worth and where do you go to get your reputation back?

One Reply to “Negotiating and Managing Project Expectations”

  1. I believe a good use of time is to find out when starting a project who the “real” decision maker is on the project and schedule “30 minutes” of “Goodwill” time; find out what the major stakeholder in your effort “expects” and then develop “reasonable” with them and the team as you plan all efforts of the endeavor – namely “time/$/resources”.


    William M Maguire
    Hewlett-Packard Senior Project Manager.

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