Chapter 4: Understanding and Meeting Client Expectations

Project management is about managing work processes and leading people. The technical skills of a project manager—the ability to organize the project and develop a scope, budget, and schedule—are critical to executing a project that will finish on time, within budget, and to the project specifications. However, the project will not be a success if the important stakeholders are unhappy with the results.

Project stakeholders often have a significant role in the success of a project. The ability of the project manager to understand the expectations of the various stakeholders and motivate them to contribute to the project success is a major aspect of the project manager’s leadership role. In this chapter, we explore the concepts and skills needed by the project manager to understand and meet the expectations of the one of the most important stakeholders—the client—and the various means and methods for motivating the client to contribute to project success.

One of the definitions of project success focuses on achieving client satisfaction. This definition highlights the importance of the client as critical for both defining and achieving project success. The client is an important project constituent and in most cases the most important constituent. DarnallRussell W. Darnall, The World’s Greatest Project(Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc., 1996), 48–55. described actions for the project manger focused on defining and meeting client expectations. Project success often includes meeting project goals and specifications, and it also includes understanding and meeting the expectations of the client. Depending on the complexity level of the project, the plan to meet the client’s expectations can range from having a general discussion with the project leadership team to developing a formal plan that is tracked during the life of the project.

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