The missing link between business need and software development: product design
by Ari Tanninen, Product development consultant at Gosei Oy on Sep 23, 2013
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There is a disconnect between IT buyers and IT vendors. Buyers assume that vendors will figure out what their IT system should precisely do. Vendors assume that buyers surely know their business and ...
There is a disconnect between IT buyers and IT vendors. Buyers assume that vendors will figure out what their IT system should precisely do. Vendors assume that buyers surely know their business and know exactly what their new IT system should do. Requirement analysts are deployed to gather requirements and write a specification which becomes the basis of a contract. A project is executed and the end result is taken to use. Users hate the system because it is clunky, does not meet their needs and is too complicated.
Why? The problem is systemic. Both the buyer and vendor assume that someone knows what the new system should do and how. In new product/service development requirements do not exist and cannot be gathered, they have to be developed collaboratively and iteratively. When automating an existing business no one knows with sufficient detail how that business works.
Agile software development proposes to fix the problem by iterative and incremental development where feedback from users using working software is used to guide the development effort. But working software is an expensive way of getting feedback when compared with role-play or paper design prototypes.
To solve the disconnect a new mindset and tools are needed. The mindset should be one of product and/or service design, where multiple stakeholders engage in a participatory design process centered around common, cheap, design artifacts.
This topic will include discussion about:
- the disconnect between business and software
- the nature of product and service development
- the role of feedback and learning
- participatory design and user-centered methods including service blueprints, role-play, prototyping and simulation and how they can be used to fix the disconnect
- advantages: better products, new ideas, engaged stakeholders, utilizing latent and tacit knowledge, increased empathy, cheaper more purposeful systems
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