Saturday, August 21, 2010

Build me a widget...

Developers get a lot of requests from business people that sound like this: "Build me a widget (or a framework, or a proof of concept, etc.) that I can play with. It has to be flexible so I can tweak it myself and change stuff and maybe even show it to a customer." Implied but not stated, the request is also to go away but remain available if the business person needs significant changes. Business people don't realize that, from the developer's point of view, this is a very low-value request. They're asking the developer to do a great deal of work without having thought through the business case for the request. If the developer is experienced, he or she will have seen a lot of this sort of work just sit on a shelf unused.

If you're a developer, what kind of project would you rather work on? A project to build a product that could impress customers and generate a lot of revenue and gain you some recognition, or a project to build a big toy for a business person who may or may not figure out what to do with it at some unspecified future date? Business people could help themselves a great deal if they would do their part to think through a request for technology, and then engage developers early in the concept formation stage of product development.

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