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Gathering Stakeholder Expectations

Gathering Stakeholder Expectations

Author: Jeff Carroll
Description:

This lesson discusses how to gather stakeholder expectations.

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Tutorial

Source: Image of two people interview, Creative Commons, Kelly Eddington; Image of bowling pin people, hourglass, file folder, Public Domain, Sparkol VideoScribe Internal Image; Image of watch, Public Domain, http://bit.ly/1a48e0o; Image of scope flow diagram, Creative Commons, TBD.

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Hi, I'm Jeff. And in this lesson, we'll learn how to gather stakeholder expectations. This is the first step when creating a project scope. And it's critical at this stage to understand and document the key stakeholders' expectations.

It's the role of the project manager to coordinate the gathering of expectations. So interviews must be arranged with each stakeholder or a key representative of each stakeholder group. Remember that stakeholders can include any of the following key personnel; project manager, project sponsors, project team members, key decision makers, users or customers, and any other organization or individual who are impacted by the project, and whose decision can affect the project scope.

Now, let's discuss the two methods used to gather expectations. The project manager can either use qualitative or quantitative methods to gather expectations. And in both cases, it's their role to fully document what's been collected. During an interview, the project manager may not know which stakeholder expectations will shape scope creation. So they should record as much detail as possible.

The qualitative method is done by interviewing stakeholders. And since each stakeholder type might have different areas of expertise or influence, question should be targeted to each type. For example, project sponsors might be asked questions such as how do you see the project deliverables impacting the organization in the following year? Or what critical components are necessary and which might be considered optional? While interview questions with project team members probably wouldn't include those questions.

Potential users of the final deliverables would also be asked, how would you use this product in your work to determine the desired user experience? If other stakeholders don't use the product though, asking this question might create incorrect expectations for the product.

In addition to qualitative interview questions, the project manager can review data from the organization or from related projects, or about the expected outcomes or deliverables. This is a quantitative method. For example, if the project deliverable is a watch with similar functionality to a tablet computer, then the project manager might research normal watch production to provide data on design methods.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the time necessary to gather all stakeholder expectations. While the time can be considerable, it is much better to know expectations before work begins on a project. The longer a project runs, the more difficult it can be to adjust scope based on missed expectations.

Once expectations have been gathered, the project manager must classify and categorize the information received, with the goal of identifying key expectations. It's at this stage that conflicts can arise between stakeholders. And it's the role of the project manager to resolve these issues while still maintaining strong relationships with all project members.

When categorizing expectations, consider these three types-- project outcome expectations. These relate what stakeholders expect the project to deliver. For example, for our tablet watch project, a project outcome expectation might be, it is expected that the watch first be functional before worrying about its fashion.

Project benefit expectations. These relate how the stakeholders expect project deliverables will impact the organization. For example, it is expected that the watch will result in an expansion of the user base in the 10-year-old to 20-year-old demographic.

And process expectations. How do the stakeholders expect the project to be managed? Who will be the decision makers? How will information be distributed?

And who will approve each stage-- are all expectations that must be gathered. Once all expectations have been gathered and categorized, then the project manager begins to scope the project, following the scope flow diagram. Details on these steps will be discussed in later lessons.

OK, now you understand how a project manager gathers expectations. Nicely done. In this lesson, you learned that a project manager needs to identify stakeholders and their expectations using qualitative or quantitative methods, document those expectations, and you learned the three types of expectations. Thanks for listening. And have a great day.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Stakeholder Expectations

    Expectations that project stakeholders have in relation to how a project will be managed and what project deliverables should perform.