Expectation Identification

Expectations are the result we hope to achieve from something. They develop through:

  1. Sales
  2. Education
  3. Past experiences
  4. Personal needs


The best way to identify expectations is simply to ask a lot of questions and actively listen. Actively listening means taking in what they say, and rewording it to clarify you have heard correctly. A range of question can be asked, including:

  1. Current business process
  2. What they don’t like about the current process
  3. What they do like about the current process
  4. What they expect to gain from the process
  5. Priorities
  6. Current knowledge about
  7. System capabilities
  8. Team capabilities
  9. Project rollout
  10. Previous experiences with projects


Once an outline of expectations have been formed, they can be categorised so the next step can take place (note, there may be a mix of expectation types). Types of expectations include:

  1. Fuzzy
    1. Define: Have some idea that there is a problem, but either cannot conceptualise it, or do not know the solution to the problem
    2. Next: Clarify – explore the problem, or what the goal of the solution is (make suggestions and determine if the suggestions solve the issue)
  2. Clear
    1. Define: Know what the problem is and what they would like to solve the problem
    2. Next: Clarify you have included everything
  3. Unrealistic
    1. Define: Wanted change is not possible due to team or system limitations
    2. Next: Educate – determine what they have incorrect understanding of, and educate them about it.
  4. Realistic
    1. Define: Wanted change reflects reality
    2. Next: Clarify you have included everything
  5. Implicit
    1. Define: Unspoken expectations that are assumed to be known and fulfilled
    2. Next: Ask a lot of questions. Often these will be about project rollout (time, speed to develop solution, etc.) or positive aspects of the current software that they want to keep. Using example of solutions or a prototype phase will help to identify these expectations.
  6. Explicit
    1. Define: Spoken expectations
    2. Next: Clarify you have included everything


Document the expectations you identify and ask the client to confirm if everything is included a few days later. They will be able to identify if any miscommunications have occurred, and if any expectations have been missed.

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