great digital expectations – and tips on how to manage them

Digital is easy. Isn’t it?

Thankfully there are lots of user friendly tools and websites out there these days. Of course they have their limits as to how flexible and extendable they are. Fortunately you don’t tend to hit the limits very often when you use these tools and websites in your personal life.

This creates an interesting challenge to those of us who have to manage expectations of how quick and easy it is to deliver digital activity in the workplace. I find myself having to manage unrealistic expectations which are founded from personal use of the web. Naturally there is also the opposite ‘technophobe’ end of the spectrum but this post isn’t about that – perhaps I’ll write about that another day.

Managing expectations is a tricky balancing act – you definitely want the enthusiasm not to be damaged while the realism comes to the fore. Here are a few of my personal tactics and tips for different situations:

  • Explain the gap between the vision and the reality
    • group requirements into lists of essential, desirable and nice to have and show which are met by the suggested approach (ideally also show this for a better alternative/s)
    • communicate the effort needed and be transparent about the choices –  where possible ask them to be a partner in choosing what is sacrificed or prioritised in resource allocation and/or requirements
  • Show the reality of the approach
    • do a walk through to show if something is limited or time consuming – show an alternative too
    • create a prototype which is as close as you can get to the requirements with the approach and an alternative – the gap should then be in plain sight
    • find examples of others already doing it and ask them for their experience. Where possible – visually point out the flaws / customisations / effort
  • Do a little bit of what’s being asked
    • where risk is low deliver a small part but quickly – proving one way or another whether its worth investing more
    • when you think it’s possibly very expensive or time consuming but this isn’t changing views – get a quote from an agency – it’ll either be acceptable or support your hesitation

2 thoughts on “great digital expectations – and tips on how to manage them

  1. Having worked for various ad / digital agencies, my working day is pretty much structured around balancing expectations – both internally and externally. What I find key is the following –
    – always be honest and upfront from the start. the last position you want to be in is having to back track on previous timescales / promises made just because you were too eager to give a pleasing answer upfront
    – be a little generous with timing plans. if you give yourself a little breathing space when it comes to delivering creative / assets / hitting deadlines etc, and you are able to then deliver early against the plan a positive atmosphere is injected into the project. under promise and over deliver (i think we’ve all heard that phrase!)
    – if you foresee problems that will affect delivery timings, always flag these. dont try and hide and hope everything will be ok. i find over-communicating is always better than the opposite

    good blog laila. always eye opening to hear things from the client side

  2. thanks Marcus – these additional points are great and spot on. I’d always rather an agency be slightly pessimistic and then surprise me 🙂

    I always find it interesting to discuss the client side vs agency side stuff – we tend to operate like an internal agency in many ways and that adds an interesting dimension to things!

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