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Managing Expectations

What it is folks!

First off, my apologies for not blogging as much as I should have been. 2019 has been amazing so far both personally and professionally, which has kept me busy with stuff other than blogging. However, I promise to get on it a little more for the remainder of the year, particularly with more technical blogs and quick updates.

For this blog, however, I want to change gears and talk about something that has been on my mind for a while. Recently, I encountered a situation where an Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud (EPRC) customer ditched the software because they felt it didn’t produce the results they wanted. Whereas the tool is lacking in a few areas that make putting reports such as budget books and comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFR) together with a little more difficulty (sorry, I still love you), I continue to wonder if the customer’s expectation of EPRC was too high.

Ojasalo (2001) wrote an article that broke expectations down within two categories: realistic and unrealistic. Realistic expectations are when expectations are expected to be fulfilled, and unrealistic expectations are very unlikely to be fulfilled. I think it’s safe to say that many of us understand that concept, but within these two categories are other sub-categories of expectations:

  • Fuzzy expectations – Customers expect a change but don’t quite know what that change should be.
  • Precise expectations – When customers expect a change and know exactly what needs to be changed.
  • Implicit expectations – When elements of a service or product are so obvious that they don’t even cross the customers’ mind because they believe the specific elements won’t occur.
  • Explicit expectations – When customers know exactly want they want and know exactly what went wrong when those expectations are not met (Ojasalo, 2001, p.203).

Having realistic, explicit, and precise expectations when buying and implementing new EPM software is crucial, but of course, may not always be optimal. Wanting to get out of “Excel hell” is fine, but knowing the downstream impacts of implementing new financial software and understanding the change management component as well as the change in business processes is just as important. Moreover, wanting to use a new reporting software because of all the “bells and whistles” is great, but thinking you can push a magic button and out pops a CAFR or budget book is unrealistic. Ojasalo (2001) posited that “[w]hen customers have expectations which are not fulfilled by the service, they will be disappointed, and when these expectations are unrealistic, disappointment cannot be avoided” (p.205).

Managing expectations do not fall directly on the customer, however. Companies like Oracle, Oracle partners, as well as the customer, must work together to ensure realistic, explicit, and precise expectations. To do that, first, we all must help to focus fuzzy expectations and make them more precise. The customer must know exactly what they are getting into from the very beginning. If not, as time goes along, expectations become more unrealistic. Second, implicit expectations must be revealed. By revealing those expectations that the customer may be taking for granted, the expectations become explicit, which avoids any surprises that may be lurking later on. Also, think about this. The cost and subsequent damage of not revealing implicit expectations are greater than the cost of revealing them. Finally, it’s important to calibrate unrealistic expectations to realistic levels. Don’t come into a situation thinking that Planning and Budgeting Cloud will solve all of your budgeting problems or that EPRC is the answer to all of your reporting problems (don’t get me wrong, it’s close though :)).

Doing these three things: focusing fuzzy expectations, revealing implicit expectations, and calibrating unrealistic expectations will lead to long-term success and higher satisfaction with the product in use. Sounds like a win-win for all parties involved!

Til Next Time!

Reference

Ojasalo, J. (2001), “Managing customer expectations in professional services”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 200-212.

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