Friday, February 04, 2005

The GAP between what needs to and what is

The gap applied on an agile process: who was guilty?

After being a software developer for more then 4 years, working directly and indirectly with customers, I had the opportunity in the last two months to become a software customer. This experinece was quite beneficial, and "the gap" problem is one of the things I encontered direcly.

Both I and the developer, came in and stayed troughout the project with the best intentions. But there were still missunderstandings, that we successfully overcame but I wanted to get to the bottom of them. Many times, I was very occupied at work so I didn't have the time or was too tired to be able to update specifications, answer to questions in useful time. This disrrupred the main thing affecting any good collaborative project: communication.

Having other more important things to do all day, just increased the gap and might have comporomised the entire project, even between a customer and a client with the best intentions. This was mostly my fault. And probably every customer, thinks (rightfully) that he had nothing to do with the failure, because he had more important things to do.

The closer the customer, the better the software

The customer must make a good compromise between his job and the time he can allocate the developers , to answer questions, kill ambiguity in specifications, give feedback, "steer" the development.

This lack of time, or more urgent things to do in their day to day activity, will always happen with the customers. This is the thing that must be overcome but any agilist, people that try to get the customer involved as much as possible.

Sell this to the customer. The need to be as colose as possible. The need to reorganize some activities in order to be close to you when you need him. Probably this is the hardest thing that must be sold to the customer, along with the software, if you want to embrace an agile methodology, but is well worth it. Afterall, the closer the customer, the better the software.


Even with motivated parties involved in a project, a gap between what must be implemented and what is implemented wil always appear. Keeping this gap, as small as possible cannot be done in a single step, and must probably begin when you first contact the client, "preparing" him that his attention will be very necessary, even though he's got a lot of other more important things to do. Then by using an iterative/incremental development process, applied with small iterations (2-4 weeks), and with frequent releases to the users, that won't let the gap grow, . After all, if you try to cover this gap after 6 months, you might not be able to do it anymore ...

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