In software development, delays and frustration can be a big problem for teams trying to work efficiently. When stakeholders and developers don't understand each other, it causes misunderstandings, rework, and missed deadlines. This is even more difficult in multicultural teams, where different backgrounds and communication styles make collaboration harder.
But there is a solution that can help tackle these issues head-on: the Expectation Workshop.
In this article, we show you how to use it.
An Expectation Workshop can be narrowed down to 8 key steps:
<ol><li><strong>Determining who's involved in the project</strong>(e.g., department heads, customers, employees).</li><li><strong>Clearly defining what the workshop aims to achieve</strong> – discovering each other’s expectations.</li><li><strong>Providing relevant information before the workshop</strong> (e.g., workshop template, resources explaining the workshop).</li><li><strong>Allowing participants to introduce themselves</strong>, their roles, and their areas of expertise.</li><li><strong>Explaining the project's background and objectives</strong> (e.g., “the goal of the project is to develop a mobile banking application targeting tech-savvy millennials”).</li><li><strong>Opening up a discussion about the project</strong> to uncover the team’s hidden assumptions. Go through each of the project's components and ask if anyone has any questions or needs additional information. Ask about issues like:<ul><li>Who’s the target audience?</li><li>What tech stack has been chosen and why?</li><li>What resources, when it comes to time, budget, and infrastructure, and personnel?</li><li>Who’s involved in the project, and to what extent?</li><li>Who are the project’s stakeholders?</li><li>What are the project's key milestones?</li><li>What’s the project timeline or deadline?</li><li>What are the future plans for the product and project?</li><li>What’s the required compatibility and scalability?</li><li>What are the regulatory or compliance requirements?</li></ul></li><li><strong>Collecting stakeholders' needs and expectations</strong>, including:<ul><li>collaboration rules</li><li>documentation needed</li><li>project scheduling</li><li>team availability</li><li>tools, support, and information needed</li><li>communication channels</li><li>measurement techniques</li></ul></li><li><strong>Recording the outcomes of the workshop</strong>, including:<ul><li>communication plan</li><li>decisions made</li><li>risks identified</li></ul></li></ol>
An Expectation Workshop conducted as shown above, can uncover hidden assumptions and expectations that, if not tackled, can cause serious misunderstandings that will slow down the development process. It will help clarify the expectations of all the parties involved and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
To ensure that the meeting delivers the expected value, the facilitator needs to be prepared for a few challenges.
The first may be to encourage the group to open up. This can be achieved by establishing ground rules that emphasize the importance of active listening and non-judgmental feedback. Using icebreakers and team-building activities can help to build trust and create a comfortable atmosphere.
Another challenge is managing expectations that may be unrealistic. To avoid that, the group needs to focus on measurable outcomes and provide constant feedback.
By applying the Expectation Workshop to our team, we were able to capture information asymmetry in the team and validate false beliefs.
This led us to make several changes in the development process so that the team was able to deliver higher quality work more quickly, ultimately leading to the delivery of the planned scope within the set time frame and with greater satisfaction.
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