This tool, the expectations management matrix, is used to understand the client's expectations for a project. As changes are introduced in a project, the project manager must know how to adjust the project to accommodate the changes. Using this tool, the project manager can determine which of the project variables (scope, budget, schedule) is more flexible than the other variables. Below is a example of this matrix:
The project manager shares this matrix with the client to determine which of the three project variables must be minimized or maximized, which variable the project team must try to maintain, and which variable can be adjusted. For example, a new student union on our campus must fit within the anticipated budget for the college (a check mark in the cost and Min/Max cell), the schedule for when the new building will be ready should try to be maintained (a check mark in the schedule and constrain cell), and the scope (features) of the building can be negotiated in order to meet the budget and schedule (a check in the scope and accept cell). As a result, any new changes to the cost or schedule will influence the scope of the new building.
Using this tool with the client can help the project manager know which variables can be adjusted when the client asks for changes to the project. However, we need to keep in mind the premise for this tool is that any change to one of the project variables influences the other two project variables.
Although this tool may not be required to make this expectations determination with the client, this framework is beneficial for the project manager. The framework can guide the project manager when preparing to carry out the expectations management conversation with the client. As part of this conversation the client must also be made aware of the influence of changes to any one of these variables. Having this expectations conversation early on in the project makes the change request process much easier for all stakeholders.