The aim of this paper is to investigate the role and influence of expectations management in realising benefit success when adopting a virtual learning environment (VLE). Based on a discussion of findings from a further and higher education college in the UK, a conceptual expectations management model is developed that explores the factors influencing the formulation and realisation of expected benefits from a case study of VLE adoption over time (2003–2012). The importance of avoiding unrealistic expectations as well as proactive user involvement, change control, training and clearly defined pedagogical reasons for introducing a VLE are discussed. Finally, a number of key learning points, which managers and practitioners should address when adopting VLEs, are also considered, along with suggestions for future research.