The most difficult step in a development project is establishing the relationship between industry experts and the developers. Users should be directly involved in development projects. Particularly when the scope of development project includes product and services where the end users will be external customers or consumers.
It is imperative to have senior and experienced user representation involved throughout the process or you will find yourself with a poorly written application that does what you asked or well written application that does not do what you want.
Not convinced? Here are 15 reasons why!
- Requirements are clearly communicated and understood before design and development begins. All software does 80% of what you want. The last 20% costs 80% of the budget.
- Requirements are prioritized appropriately based on the needs of the user and market. Without priorities you could find the piece you need least developed first.
- Use an Outline Scope of Work. This way requirements can be clarified on a daily basis with the entire project team. Resorting to lengthy documents, proposals, and RFP’s will only increase what isn’t read and what is misunderstood.
- Emerging requirements can be factored into the development schedule as appropriate with the impact and trade-off decisions being clearly understood. Development projects rarely end the way they began. As the project evolves new ways are introduced to accomplish existing tasks more efficiently. Users remember additional requirements that were not mentioned at the beginning of the project.
- The right product is delivered. This seems obvious but without user involvment it is entirely too common that the end product doesn’t meet user demand.
- As iterations of the product are delivered, benchmarks are established that the product meets user expectations. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.
- The product is more intuitive and easy to use. Intuitive is subject to opinion. Generally, what devlopers find intuitive users do not.
- Users become interested and therefore involved in development on a regular basis. Without this interaction, developers can be distracted by obscure features and users and business loose their stake in the overall project.
- Users sees the commitment of the development team. Developers must appreciate the expertise of the user. Conversely the user is educated how best to communicate their needs to the developer.
- Developers are held accountable. By sharing progress openly with users on a regular basis, there is complete transparency and there is nothing to hide
- Users share responsibility for issues arising in development. Many times during a development process the user changes the scope of the desired functionality. The process should not be a customer-supplier relationship but a joint team effort.
- Timely decisions can be made, about features, priorities, issues, and when the product is ready. Often development can be performed in real-time with the user avoiding misinterpretation and costly delays.
- Responsibility is shared; the team not any one individual is responsible for delivery of the product
- Individuals are accountable, reporting for themselves in daily updates that involve the user and business processes
- When the going gets tough, the whole team – business and technical – work together!