What is most important to the success of a project? Is it staying on budget, completing work by the established deadline, customer satisfaction, or building long term client relationships? While the answer to this question may vary from person to person or company to company, there is an underlying factor needed to achieve all of these objectives. The ability to manage client expectations is the driving force behind success in these areas.

The first step to managing client expectations is to get to know your client and identify what your client actually needs to make the project a success. In the world of eLearning, our capabilities are rapidly expanding as technology becomes more evolved. While in and of itself this is a wonderful thing, clients can get caught up in all the possibilities and forget their original purpose. In situations such as these, a balance must be found in order to satisfy the client while still staying true to the initial agreement.

This brings us to the second step in managing client expectations: create an initial agreement. There are many ways of creating business agreements with clients. These may include emails, phone/face to face conversations, or written contracts. It is highly recommended before the start of any project to create a written contract covering the agreements made from both parties in detail. This contract should clearly state the client’s needs, which were previously identified, and how you plan to achieve them. The contract will enable you to keep the client focused and prevent them from making out-of-scope demands.

Third, and finally, keep communication strong throughout the project. Maintain constant communication with the client by discussing project updates and status, as well as bringing up any questions or concerns. This is a good way to ensure everything is being done in accordance to the client’s expectations and prevents last minute rework and client frustration. With this in mind, however, it’s important to not allow the client to become so engrossed in the steps of the project that they forget to maintain an overall perspective. There is a careful line that must be walked between accommodating the client and allowing them to become sidetracked.