Tech teams that are coached to ‘think business’ and ‘talk business’ are on track to become highly effective. They need to understand the end user needs to move up the effectiveness ladder.
Teams that understand the ‘why’ behind the software code they are writing are more effective compared to those that write code blindly to specifications provided to them. Organizations that intentionally coach their technology teams to relate to end user needs will create an A+ product for their customers, and reap the rewards in the long run.
The Importance of Understanding the Big Picture
I learned a very important lesson early in my early days in software development.
A team of software engineers were developing a family tree software and the initial results were not very promising, as measured by customer feedback. Interviewing the product managers and developers led to an important discovery. The product managers had assumed that the developers understood the significance of family trees and the motivating factors behind why someone will create and maintain one. There was no attempt made to educate the software developers about the cultural nuances involved.
The developers were just coding to the specifications given to them and all user stories were built exactly as described. The end result was a product that fell short of expectations. A group of A+ developers could not create an A+ product since they did not fully understand the end users’ needs.
2 Unintended Consequences of Not Understanding the Big Picture
Businesses that focus on accelerated revenue growth invest a big percentage of revenue into new product development. Product and technology leaders have the responsibility to ensure that every single dollar invested into the product is being put to good use.
Here are the two critical downsides to missing the mark in the initial iterations of a product:
- Poor customer experience: The first impression for a customer tends to be a lasting impression. It also reflects on the brand and the company. Making a poor first impression can be difficult to overcome.
- Rework: While rework is inevitable in an agile product development environment, it could be one of the big consumers of innovation dollars if it gets out of control. One of the reasons a product misses its mark and has to be reworked is because the end user experience was not thought-through during product design and development.
How to Know When this is Happening on Your Teams
Leaders who are not proactively looking for symptoms of ineffectiveness tend to miss the obvious signs. As mentioned before, rework is an inevitable part of agile development, so leaders can get into a comfort zone of accepting all rework, regardless of whether or not it could have been prevented.
A periodic (and detailed) analysis of all rework done by the team might provide some valuable insights into effectiveness. Analyzing customer feedback relating to poor usability and brainstorming the root cause of this feedback with the development teams can also provide a window into how much they are thinking about the end user experience when they are writing code.
There are many other ways to detect ineffectiveness but the key to all approaches is being proactive.
5 Tactics to get Teams to Understand End User Needs
Here are some easy ways to get development teams to understand end user needs:
- Explain the business reason for building the product
- Explain the revenue assumptions behind the product. If it is a new product, explain the target market and revenue assumptions. If it is an existing product, explain the goals for the next version and how much revenue is expected from it (from customer acquisition, retention, upsell, etc.)
- Discuss end user personas with the teams. Encourage them to role-play and interact with the product
- Share results of usability tests as well as customer feedback on a regular basis – remind your team constantly about the pain points and expectations of end users
- Encourage the team to use the products they develop for at least a few minutes each day
In conclusion, teams that understand the ‘why’ behind the code they are writing are more effective than teams who code blindly to spec. The end result is an A+ product for the customers. At Onvia, we intentionally coach the technology team to relate to end user needs and we are reaping the rewards of such coaching.
If you’re interested in writing code and building digital products that clients need and rely on, then you’re in luck. We are currently hiring skilled and customer-centric developers at Onvia. Click on the link below to see the Onvia jobs that are available, learn more and apply.