Meet thy customers

One of the myths about Quality is that it is ‘meeting’ customer expectations and I always wonder what ‘exceeding’ customer expectations is.

In reality what customers actually want, is not clear to them. Software are imaginary in nature and the expectations  keeps on changing as the customers actually see the software. The development of software is kind of a godly work where we create stuff out of nothing and unless you see it, you don’t know what you really need.

Now if you want to know what is going on in one’s mind, do you think that the best thing is to ask that person to write a 3 pages email? That is good also but more applicable solution is to ‘talk to that person’. As you engage your customers in more discussions, what actually is needed becomes clearer.

The concept of Three Amigos is getting very popular where we like both Programmers and Testers (a.k.a. Engineering team) interact with Customer more and more. The decades old philosophy is that you need people who understand the business and then translate that business knowledge into requirements. Then they explain the stuff to the Engineering team. Unfortunately this does not work now.

MeetingCustomers

(the image is from HubSpot’s free images collection)

Recently I was having a discussion with an engineering team that is working on a Silicon Valley project and we were having arguments so as should we allow the programmers to talk directly to the client or shield them through a layer. The reason it came up was that talking too much to the Client may influence the decisions that Programmers make. One of the senior guys, whose opinion I respect a lot, summed up the discussion with following statement:

“An Engineer that doesn’t talk directly to the customer is not an Engineer”

We then discussed a few cases where talking to the clients earlier helped shape the software in great ways. And hereby I suggest that let the Customer influence your decisions as an Amigo 🙂

At the start of year 2013, I suggested all Testers to learn only one thing and that is their domain. Here at the start of 2014, I am suggesting all Programmers to do the same.

What do you think that engaging engineering team with the Customer helps or hurts?

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5 responses to “Meet thy customers”

  1. Abdul Aziz says :

    This concept is at the core of DDD (Domain Driven Designing) and everyone in the project team should have a good grasp on the domain in my view. The customers, programmers and testers speak a ubiquitous language. This is the ideal approach, although there are certain challenges that one may face in this approach in specific types of projects.

    Like

  2. sharaniya srinivasan says :

    All stakeholders in a project should know about current project happenings. If this is emphasized, then degree of confusion or miss will be minimal. And of course, customer is a key stakeholder!!. In this post, you insisted very clearly how important it is for every stakeholder to understand the domain

    Like

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