Cooperation between a non-technical person and a development team
We work with different teams on projects which are at various stages of development. The teams differ in terms of experience working with developers or software houses. Finding your role and properly taking advantage of such an arrangement is something you have to learn.
Efficient cooperation with an external team of developers requires knowledge, preparation and appropriate approach. Does this mean that a person with no experience cannot effectively carry out a project involving the work of developer teams? Not at all! There is ample evidence in the form of successful implementations for less experienced clients that says otherwise.
We want to share some thoughts and advice to help you streamline this process and mentally prepare you for the job. Since we really like Star Wars (but do not necessarily want to come across as smarty-pants), we have decided to collect these wise words for you in the form of 7 tips from Master Yoda. And given that Yoda is a Jedi, you just have to take him at his word. May the force be with you.
When with software house work you must, and idea of technology you have not, 7 tips from master Yoda kindly take!
1.“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
First of all, do not be afraid! Don’t be afraid of the things you don’t know and don’t fear facing them. Do not be afraid to ask either. After all, you are using external competence. If needed, it is their job to bring you up to speed. Do not stress out when you realize you do not know or you do not understand something. Every cooperation can only be successful if based on trust and understanding. Nobody will scoff at your lack of knowledge. Ask for and expect support, and you will get it.
2. “Much to learn you still have…”
…but you do not have to learn everything! There will be many things completely new to you, but as soon as you realize that you do not have to know everything, you will be fine. You will become better at recognizing areas of expertise that are actually relevant and necessary for effective cooperation. Then, once again: rest assured you are working with people who know what they are doing and focus on the exploration of knowledge which in fact is important for the success of your project. Keeping focus on what’s important can help you quickly reach the target and effectively implement consecutive stages of the project. Following this advice, rather than impatiently waiting for results, will make the effects of collaboration more visible and satisfying for everyone involved.
3. “Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.”
We love Agile and pay heed to its principles when implementing projects entrusted to us. We are flexible and it’s our goal, above all, to ensure that your project is in line with your vision. But do not get attached to this vision too much, though!
Things will change and everyone should just buckle up. You included. Just learn how to swiftly react to such change. Your project will certainly run into some unforeseen problems necessitating changes of assumptions and adoption of new ones. Expecting and getting ready for changes will save you a lot of stress. We have done numerous projects and know it for a fact: changes can not be avoided. This is why agile approach it is so important in project management. Make sure the team you want to work with offers such a model of cooperation. This will allow you to quickly introduce changes at any stage of implementation. Prepare contingency plans and make sure you grasp basics of software development and project management. This will make it easier for you to use terminology communicate with your team.
4. “You must feel the Force around you”
Trust the competence of those whose services you use and share the knowledge you already possess. Do not deny things “just in case”. Coding is a creative and intellectually demanding work. Showing confidence in the people who work for you will be rewarded aplenty in code quality. Stress, tensions and pressure never lead to anything good. Let the people whom you pay prove their worth. Check, comment and allow feedback, but also listen to valid arguments, as they can come in handy. Always explain why something is important to you. The adage “customer is king” quite naturally stands, but you must also keep in mind that the team which is working for you is there to protect you too. Consider this apt analogy: a dentist should not extract a healthy tooth, even if you wanted it and paid him/her for it.
5. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
We often hear: “okay, let’s try”. But according to Yoda: there is no trying, you just do it! Do not try, make concrete decisions: do, and verify. If you want to avoid expensive experiments, but are not sure — discuss and seek advice. It is completely ok to change your mind when needed. The success of the project (rather than following its original specification) should be your ultimate goal. Keep in mind that companies producing software are run by people who also have some business acumen. Speaking to them may provide valuable insights.
At Naturaily, most attention in the initial stage is spent on thorough understanding of the product, its market environment and purpose. We develop software carefully considering its business context. We try to learn more about our clients, and understand their history and current situation. This lets us quickly recognize their real needs, even if they can not name them themselves. In the process, we not only get a better understanding of the product, but also get to know better the people behind it. Bottom line: let’s talk, but not only about product features. Instead, tell us more about yourself and clue us in on your plan for world domination!
6. “To reach our goal, a straight path we will not follow.”
Things will get tough. Well, not so tough, but it’s all roses either. Big things are always born in pain. These are every mother’s and developer’s words of wisdom. There is a slim chance that everything will go smoothly. However, the road to success is a bumpy ride. Here again: right attitude is half the battle! Big things take time.
Each team assembled for particular project must find common ground. Many different people and methods of work must tie in with each other. Your team will include diverse personalities: individuals, introverts, or compulsive team players. Meet the people who will build your product and use this knowledge to properly manage them. With a bit of empathy on each side, it will be easier to overcome difficulties.
7. “Trust, but verify.”
Remember that the people you work with are in fact dedicated individuals and lend their skills to support your efforts as best they can. However, the onus is on you to have the knowledge in your business and always be at the top of the game. In the very process of working on the vision of the product you may have gained some valuable knowledge and experience which the team may lack. So trust, but verify and talk. Be open and be patient. Explain!
People who work for you will never do anything wrong intentionally. Keep in mind that lack of information or poor communication are the most common sources of errors in projects. And these situations are expected, especially in projects where a team is working in a different time zone. Inquire how such issues are handled by the company you want to work with. Find out what tools they have in place to support ongoing communication or, if necessary, organize duty hours to make sure there is always someone to talk to.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
…Implementation was fast and smooth. Customers were always happy and developers did not have to deal with bugs we have not seen any for over 2187 years. They got forgotten, lost in the electronic maze THX 1138 4EB along with the fixes. We have long lived and prospered on the light side of the Force, where invoices are paid on time.” ;)
Yes, we like fairy tales. But we are also quite down-to-earth and know that some things are only possible in the movies. Nevertheless, we always try to do all we can to write screenplays for successful cooperation, where the main role is played by the only hero and author of the story: our client.
What are your thoughts? Do you have some interesting experience in this field that you would like to share? Send us your suggestions and advice on how to facilitate cooperation with development teams for people without technical knowledge.