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integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

Eliminating custom software mutual mystification

June 2nd, 2015

Always test your assumptionsIn the software development world, it can be common for miscommunication to cause delays and even change the investment amount on the client's part. While we've certainly had that happen occasionally, we've learned over time how to combat the issue.

The key is to eliminate assumptions.

Naturally, there will always be some assumptions made by both parties. If the assumptions are few, it won't cause major issues.

If, on the other hand, there are too many assumptions, it can lead to a high risk of major miscommunication.

As an example, one issue that can easily crop up is the speed bottleneck in the software. It's normal for a client to assume the new software will perform faster, even if that topic was never discussed.

Once the software is being tested, the following could be the client's thought process:

"I thought the new system would be faster after the changes. I wonder if I should tell the LSG consultants. Well, I don't want to embarrass myself trying to communicate exactly what's happening. I'm sure the LSG team will figure out the problem on their own."

You can see how that might be an issue, especially if we never explicitly talked about increasing the speed of the software.

The key to combating any assumption-based issue lies in our team at LSG being sure to ask plenty of questions, and restate our understanding of what has been agreed upon.

Here are just a few of the specific techniques we use:

  • If we spot unusual tonality or body language on the part of our clients, we dig in with exploratory questions.
  • If we or they use phrases or terms that might be misunderstood (very common in the technology world), we ask clarifying questions.
  • When our techs find themselves getting excited about a new challenge, they make sure to paraphrase back to the client what they believe was said.

At LSG, we want to ensure that we know what our client's expectations are, and that we can actually meet those expectations. By eliminating assumptions throughout the process, we can discover the "how" to make that happen.

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