Understanding What Ain’t Gonna Be There

By Deane Barker on January 10, 2006

Prototyping: Here’s an awfully good point that’s lurked in the back of my head for a long time, but has never really been vocalized.

A major point I think needs to happen when prototyping (or even just generally mapping out any project) with a client is to discuss what will not be included.

Too often people get wrapped up in documenting what will be included in a project, how certain elements will work, what the workflow is, etc. I have to say, though, that nearly every problem I’ve had with projects over the years has stemmed from an assumption on a client’s part about something that they thought would be included. Often they are basic features, but if they’re not discussed and mapped out, it’s difficult to know about them and budget for them (time and money).

I’ve been in meetings where I mention to a client “just to be upfront about this, you realize that the ability to do ‘X’ is not going to be part of this development effort, correct?” It sounds blunt, and I’ve been called ‘overly negative’ or ‘overly critical’ when doing this (by colleagues/management, not clients). However, these sorts of things need to be on the table ASAP or there WILL be problems down the road.



  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with informing your users of what they’ll be getting up front, and at the same time letting them know that the missing element(s) could be part of phase II or III of the project. At least presenting it that way would soften the blow, vs. just telling them “just so you know, this ain’t gonna happen”. I can’t think of many instances where I’ve just delivered something and never gone back to upgrade/modify it.

  2. Within our organisation all of our project managers use this method religously. We use it in terms of scope. What is inside the scope of the project, and especially what is outside the scope of the project.

    Very handy when a clients tries to go back on their initial requirement. It becomes a legal document in essence.

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