This is an article by John M. Lowe, Jr., P.E., speaker for our upcoming Civil Engineering Collective session: Manage Your Projects to Meet Your Clients’ Expectations, which you can find here.
Hardly anything has a greater influence on how we perceive being successful in life than how we meet the expectations of others and how well they meet ours. In our professional life, nowhere else is this more applicable than in the client/consultant relationship.
The official measure of success frequently comes at the end of a project when each party evaluates how well their expectations have been met. The goal, of course, is for both parties to conclude that all of their expectations have been met. This is possible, but only with considerable attention being paid by both parties throughout the entire project. And it can only occur when each party has a clear understanding of what the other party expects. While the responsibility for managing this process is shared by both parties, most of the day-to-day effort usually falls to the consultant.
The first opportunity for the client’s expectations to be established occurs when the consultant submits their Statement of Qualification (SOQ) to the client during the selection process. The consultant wants the client to have a favorable impression of the consultant’s qualifications, but care must be taken to not overstate its qualifications, thereby creating an unattainable expectation of the consultant’s performance. In some cases when this happens, clients become disappointed when its expectations based on the SOQ have not been met. On future projects, they may require that the SOQ be attached and made a part of the contract for professional design services. Then, if the consultant’s performance is not consistent with its SOQ, the client may declare that the consultant is in default.