There’s this idea called the Disconfirmation of expectations theory that states that having unrealistically high expectations from the adoption of a new IT application will result in lower levels of realised benefits. Get customers excited about a new product and fail to deliver on it and you will have unsatisfied customers. And unsatisfied customers are unlikely to use the product to its full advantage.
There is a risk with products developed using agile approaches that they fail to deliver on their initial promise. The immediate stakeholders know that the product will evolve incrementally, but is this true of the broader audience? Are they aware of the intended regular heartbeat of delivery or are they expecting a fully featured product at the first release. How are you managing expectations beyond the immediate product team?
Be wary of what you say early on. Creating a vision is essential but be mindful of how this is communicated. Early demos, proof of concepts, prototypes, wireframes often show a vision of the end goal, several releases into the future. Words are easily forgotten, explaining that this is an end goal vision is not enough, you must show a vision of what the cut-down product for the first release is and ensure it is appropriately communicated.
Expectations work both ways, it is easy for the business to tell IT their requirements and assume they will be developed in their entireity in one go. Similarly it is easy for agile developers to expect the business to understand their incremental approach to delivery. The key to success is effective change management; identifying all stakeholders (both core and peripheral) and create a culture of agility that goes beyond the immediate project team. In a large organisation that maintains more traditional approaches, agile projects must be supported by a well designed communication plan that builds the relationship between both IT and the business. Identify whose life will be touched by the product and develop a strategy for communicating to them. This doesn’t mean “they can see what is going on on the project Wiki” this means someone taking responsilibity for listening, engaging and evangelising on the product, the project and its goals.