Beyond user requirements
About 60 percent of software development produces ineffective or substandard results. Circa 25 percent fail outright. Traditional RFPs, especially those driven by IT leaders with little understanding of the business or user needs, are especially prone to failure. By failing to properly investigate and diagnose business requirements software development (especially Apps) are developed around assumptions about users’ needs and/or behaviour. Misdiagnosis is expensive for clients and unnecessary. This seems obvious. In other industries misdiagnosis is synonymous with malpractice.
Business and User Requirements
Ultimately, every application receives user feedback; it might be through low adoption rates or complaints from users. Fixing problems after development significantly adds to the cost – the longer companies delay identifying the real problems that they need to address, the more direct and indirect costs they incur. A focus on user requirements alone is not enough. The right approach is to only prescribe solutions after identifying the underlying business problems and/or opportunities that need to be addressed. The most useful starting point is to fully consider the strategic goals and drivers of your business. Carefully consider your go-to-market strategy – look at your product, your offer and your channels to market. Look for opportunities to support the achievement of your strategic goals through software development. The second step is to make sure that users actively want to use the software or App – that is the only way your strategic goals can be achieved.
Project Vs Product
Wrapping requirements within a project focuses minds on completion dates and budgets. However, a product led approach goes further because unlike projects, we expect products to generate a return on investment. For example, you may wish to achieve an increase in sales or a reduction in costs, better accessibility or usability, or maybe higher client retention. Your strategic goals will determine your unique KPIs. In fact, unlike projects, products evolve over time and they must continuously address your KPIs.
Agile and Design
Agile methodology is now widely recognised and adopted – one of the key goals is to deliver working software at regular intervals. Another is to collaborate with the business which in turn enables the development solution to support the achievement of KPIs that your business uses to determine and recognise performance.
Also, design goes well beyond aesthetics. Good design can and does drive performance. User centred design starts with an understanding of user types and their needs. It includes the use of data and measurement to inform and achieve better design decisions. The end result must be applications that users want to use – that support achievement of your KPIs – to achieve your strategic business goals.
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