The Importance Of Aligning Expectations

Dennis Newel

Senior Product Manager at ReCharge Payments



"I was working for iQMetrix in Vancouver as a Senior Business Analyst where I was pulled in to build up a new group to work on making a custom enhancement to our product for one of our clients. The enterprise we were making enhancements for were used to give their requirements to companies as one massive document and expected the vendors to come back when they had finished on the product."

Actions taken

The document consisted of "user shall" and "system shall" requirements. However, it turned out later that they had made a couple of incorrect steps - some steps didn't require user input, but they had included them because their process dictated that they had to shift between the user and the system.

"After a couple of months, it became clear that this was going completely sideways. As a company we looked at the project as an extension of the core product, so we were trying to productize a thing the enterprise just wanted for themselves. The enterprise was actually quite surprised when, three to four months down the line, we told them that based on our tracking we wouldn't be able to meet our deadlines. They said that vendors would usually come to them a month before the deadline to tell them they wouldn't meet their goals, so would need another year."

"At the time, iQMetrix had never worked on a project of this size, or with enterprises of this size. If I had been involved earlier, I might have been able to inject a different approach, that would have been more iterative and less 'big-bang' focused. However, because this approach had already been agreed on, we had a timeline for delivery."

"It was interesting to see the cultural differences and how the two organizations saw the project. As we started working more closely with our counterparts on the enterprise side, they started to become more interested in iterative, Agile approaches and we even tried to re-plan the project to have multiple partial roll-outs. However, all of their higher levels of management said it was completely off the table. We were just seen as a vendor who should deliver software, where we saw it more as a partnership with a long future."

"The deadlines were unrealistic and, unfortunately, at one point we were even doing double bookkeeping, where we presented one number to the customer and had a different number internally. We knew the project was going in completely the wrong direction. The client eventually pulled the plug on the project as they were unwilling to spend any more money."

Lessons learned

"In hindsight, I got involved too late. By the time I got pulled in, the company had already made the agreement with the enterprise to make a custom enhancement to their product, delivered to spec and on time. It's interesting to see what happens when you don't align your expectations of a project from the beginning. You should also be aware of the risk of not having enough experience in what you're getting into."

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Dennis Newel

Senior Product Manager at ReCharge Payments


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