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2 September 2010

Managing expectations

Success, at least the ephemeral success of a happy customer, is achieved through exceeding expectations. Set low expectations and it’s easy to succeed. Set high expectations, and even though you do an awesome job, nobody is really that impressed.

You aren’t really in control of a person’s expectations. Despite all the effort you put into setting realistic expectations about your team’s capability, or the difficulties of the problem you are tackling, people will still be influenced by other extraneous factors.

They’ve seen all their corporate projects run over budget and delivery disappointing results constantly. They’ve seen Facebook become an internet behemoth in less time that it took for their billing transformation project to get to it’s first release. Or they’ve simply gotten used to using Microsoft Powerpoint 2010 and expect all new systems to have similarly advanced features.

People’s expectations don’t match reality. No matter how hard you try to convince them.

What can you do? Function Points? Story Points? Planning Poker? Incremental releases? Rolling waves? Abandoning estimates altogether?

What’s your plan?