Software Development Done Right

Navigating Success

Ch. 3: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Well, this one might be a little tough to swallow if you are the customer, but here we go!

The old phrase “The Customer Is Always right” is one that many use in the Service Industry and one that I’ve used many times as I’ve worked in restaurants, delivering newspapers, as a janitor, and other odd jobs I’ve had during my life. While I think the intention of this quote is to help center that your main objective when helping someone is to do what they want, this doesn’t apply to building software products and certainly doesn’t apply to projects that a customer hasn’t done before. If you're in charge of hiring experts or independent contractors - or if you work with them directly - learn how to hire for quality over quantity and use them to tell you when you are right or wrong.

Let me explain:

When you decide to have a new house built, go to the doctor for an ache or pain or say, go to martial arts school and earn a belt, you are looking to whomever you are getting the service from to handle the details and guide you. This works especially well when circumnavigating the globe too! In all cases, those who are guiding you are  the experts in the domain that you are entering. You are the student. They have many years and oftentimes decades of experience working in their craft. They will guide you through the process. While this chapter could be read at any time in this series, this is a foundational building block to a word you’ll be reading me use time again - TRUST. Trust in the process, trust in the company whom you are working with, and ultimately trust in the team (or shall I say boat crew) that has been assembled to help you. Trust is a very special word, I’ve learned. It will make or break this relationship. Trust is the reason you have hired an outside firm to help you - the customer - achieve your goals and if you are not ready to admit that as a customer you are not always right, it’s going to be a difficult relationship on both sides. Some customers who have used software applications in the past or seen experiences that they like can come across as, “Why is it so hard to build this? Apple has been doing it for years''. Just because you use software, doesn’t mean you know the ins and outs of how it’s developed. Trust your team and trust that you as the customer are not always right. This should not be construed as the customer is ALWAYS wrong. Don’t ever think that and that is not what I’m saying. It’s more that when you develop software, view it as a partnership - where there will be give and take. Accept it, understand it and realize that it’s all part of the process and best for everyone when it’s applied. You are the captain, but the key is to understand that everyone has a unique set of skills and when trust is maintained, you are free to do what you do best and the rest of the crew  does theirs. Trust can be subtle but you’ll find it is a core property to success as we continue with our Software Development Done Right series.

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