Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Customers INTERESTS are always right

In software development, the customer is very rarely right! Usually, they come to you asking for some new feature like integrating everything they've ever done, with Excel, or demanding all their fetures now be exposed to all the other departments in the company via web services, or something along those lines.

Often, the demands are based on what they used to do with their last system, or what has just been discussed at a seminar they went to. Usually their "requirements" are based on what they've seen or heard someone or something else do.

Users can't be expected to think out of the box, with regards to I.T. solutions. It's not their job anyway - they have a business to run...what they are never wrong about though, it that they have needs that are to be fulfilled. They want a void filled, or they want something better... They won't always articulate these needs properly - often trying to do the job of your business analyst for you, but positive, respectful discussion, suggestions and proposals will always win the day. Occassionally, their solution may happen to be the right way forward as well - in this case, you need to give them their time in the sun. Othertimes, you may have much more cost effective solutions, that are a much better fit with your environment and meet their underlying needs better than what they asked for in the first place - when this happens, for the sake of you and your team, and future exchanges, you need to always bring the conversation/exchange back to the original request and make it clear that it was that initial request that sparked this idea, and that it is that user (group) that is responsible for this outcome - I.T. guys can have no ego!