Are You Listening To Your End Customer? Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be

I would feel like a complete failure at my job.

Somehow, someway I have a supervisor who feels they can cram something unrealistic down my throat simply because they can. I know already the arguments he is going to make, I know already the solutions he will propose, and I know already that he is probably trying to kill me.

How did I get here?

If you back-trace the reality of almost any project you will find out that the project that now has a very tight deadline was typically conceived 2–3 times as many weeks as the deadline now presented to you. That was a lot of opportunity for someone to tell me about this “new” project and get my input on what it would take to have me complete it.

So knowing this and having them come to me now with a “new” project and a very tight deadline I would have to believe I have completely failed to explain how software is built successfully to everyone involved. In fact I would wonder if the lessons I have already taught them where willfully ignored, perhaps out of some sort of childish power play.

Now if you are asking me what I would do in this situation, I would simply do this:

I would tell them to take their list of features and put them in priority order and I will then knock out each feature as I can and will finish what I can by the deadline. I cannot promise all features but I will try to at least finish the important ones.

Brace yourself because it is very likely the next thing you will hear is…

We don’t know what all the features are.

This will make me grind my teeth because if you don’t know what all the features are then how could you possibly set a deadline. This happens all the time and is a significant example of why I have a hard time calling what we do engineering.

Even if they already know what features they want it is also likely they will say is that every features is a priority. That is some serious bullshit right there because I have never, not once, built a piece of software where some feature that seemed important at the beginning got shuffled off the end of the list by the time we are done.

All this will make you wonder just exactly what they were doing on the run-up to the project…and again, they clearly are not listening.

Make no mistake, if you are in this situation the problem is you. Somehow you have lead your management to believe that they, the people who likely have the least understanding of how this is done, get to dictate to you how long it will take you to do it. This cannot stand.

The people are building the feature for a new piece of software need to be the ones figuring out some kind of estimate of what it will take to deliver that feature. That estimate is not going to be accurate (hopefully erring on the side of way, way over) but it will be far better than anything some manager pulls out of their butt. Beyond that, people are more responsible for the decisions they made. If I make an estimate to you I am going to work ten times harder to make that then if you dictate it to me.

Since we know that projects do not appear out of thin air it is important to retrain your management to understand that bringing you in on a project as early as possible will maximize their chances of success. All of the discussions they likely had about what and how and when are basically pointless without the what, how, and when team in the room. The system they are imagining is rather useless if somebody is not there to grind them into reality.

So, your primary focus going forward is to make sure that nobody brings you a new project ever with a deadline already attached. You should already know about the project and already have worked very hard to find a manageable deadline.

Source :

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