Understanding requirements and customers process

Today there are software tools for almost everything. You can have your coffee machine warm, 5 minutes before you arrive. “Fancy gadget” you call it.
It’s possible to “solve” every problem, but not to have plattforms that are stable and easy to use. I hear a lot of these from friends that have nothing to do with software.
They get a new finance software, a new time recording system or what ever. And what I always hear is, that the sofware does not cover their processes.
“You need to enter that, then to go back to adjust the other and go ahead again to finish.”

Analysis

Why is the process not applied correctly to the software?

Now this is my personal opinion, but they think they are smart enough, to improve the software requirements, to have a better solution for the customer.  Thats very attentive, but they build software for a process they do not understand. Basically it’s not their fault. They cannot know every process of every employee and normally they are not in direct contact with the end user.

Even when the requirements engineer (assumed there is one) understands the customers processes and needs, he might not be able to transfer the knowledge to the developers team.
Probably because they do speak a different language. But thats another story. I will do a post with this issue one day.

Solution

There is a company called IDEO. This company focuses on innovations for new products, as well as improvements of old products.
There are several videos available to illustrate, how they work.  I learned a lot from them.

First of all, that means even before they have one single thought about the solution, they try to feel the end users everyday live.
How they do?
E.g. by spending a day doing the same the customer does.

I already tried this several times. This really helped me to understand the customer.
Next I’m going to try the same with every team member. I’m not just speaking about the developer team. I mean the whole project team.

I will of course update this post, when I have some news ;-)

Summary

When your team builds an application, you need to understand the use first. Don’t think you are smart enough to understand it by your self. It’s not a question of cleverness to do so.
And don’t think you could improve the process. Even if you could, the process is given and can not be changed.

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