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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ship It! - 5.8 Customers Are Unhappy

Get the customer to work alongside you to help define the product while managing their expectations about what’s possible and what’s not. Don’t just get their input at the beginning of the project; keep in touch throughout the development process. So how do you communicate the project status to the customer? One of the best ways is to create a live system that can be used for demonstrations as early as possible, even if the feature set is incomplete. This is true whether the product has a GUI or is a set of application programming interfaces (APIs). Every time your team completes a new feature, add it to the demo program so the customer can see it and give you feedback.

Tip 31: Deliver live demos early and often

How do you communicate with the customer between releases of the demo? Encourage the customer to check The List as often as possible, and keep it up-to-date so they can see it change. Invite the customer into your development world so that they can see your direction and your problems. A customer is more likely to accept a delay if they understand what caused it. Also, encourage them to suggest changes to The List. If they don’t like the way the project is going, they should ask for you to change it. After all, they’re paying the bills. If they frequently communicate their needs and your team continually adjusts the product to meet them, then the end result should make everyone happy.

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