Building client input into the software delivery pipeline is critical in a world where customer experience is king.

There is no one-size-fits-all rule book for how this partnership should work. However, here are four suggestions for making the most of client feedback during the software development process.

1. Prioritize transparency over early efficiency

It is critical to have an open line of communication with clients. Setting up a single point of contact for the client is the ideal way for a software development company to do so. This could be a business analyst that can communicate requirements to the development team and report any challenges the developers encounter to the client.

This analyst should not be brought in after the development process has started. The analyst can assist the development team in assessing capabilities, establishing targets, and addressing any early concerns by sitting with them at the outset of the project. This enables the analyst to define reasonable client deployment expectations from the start.

Between the developers and the client, the analyst serves as a buffer. When a client has a problem, they contact the analyst, who is aware of the developers’ current projects. This means that if a client requests a change to a feature in development, the analyst can tell the team to stop working on it and focus on something else until a solution is found.

This keeps the development team focused on producing code rather than becoming sidetracked by customer interactions and missing deadlines. When we started following this customer feedback procedure at Finastra, the software vendor where I work, we witnessed an increase in weekly client engagements as well as application usage.

2. Build a client community

Give your users a platform, such as Chatter or Yammer, on which they may develop a community and express feedback when offering a product to many clients.

As a result, the community can function as a self-help troubleshooter, with peers educating one another. It also increases trust in your service because you are performing development in an open and honest manner.

It also provides the development team with a new perspective on the most prevalent challenges that consumers face. Developers can regularly reassess their objectives and direct their resources accordingly based on data gathered from conversations about the product, perhaps discussing specific features.

In my experience, the number of community members and the frequency of questions about the functionality of older programs is directly related. As the former expands, the latter shrinks, allowing more time to be spent on new features.

Collaboration technologies allow for a greater level of openness in workflows, reducing the need for direct contact. However, keep in mind that these tools are only beneficial up to a point. A direct phone conversation is the best way to address any difficulties if a client query stretches beyond two emails.

3. Test often

More classic UX data-gathering procedures, such as asking clients to recollect the aspects they appreciate the most from numerous distinct designs, have become ineffective at scale due to the maturing of internet analytics technologies. Developers can now track user behavior in real-time using internet tools.

It’s vital to keep track of how clients interact with your product. A user who often returns to the top-right corner of a web page, for example, maybe looking for a method to quit that page, so this feature should be made more obvious.

Similarly, if you notice a client hovering in a specific region on a page where there is no live feature, you might infer the user is accustomed to having that option available. Rather than waiting for user input to reflect this wish, the development team can decide to test with features and see how they react.

We found that the more data we collect, the easier it is to focus on the top three items from the product backlog and road map, as agreed upon by the business analyst and client at the outset of the project.

4. Put a checkpoint system in place

Setting expectations from the start is essential, and working in an agile manner facilitates this.

The business analyst and the development team can create the project’s primary objectives by working with clients, as well as agreeing on smaller checkpoints that are desirable and doable with each sprint. While the main objectives are expected to remain the same, checkpoints may be moved or changed.

Consider the case when the customer is required to present particular features to business stakeholders. Although the features may be constituent elements of an important aim, what if the current sprint isn’t focused on them? The development team does not have to come to a halt because it is advancing in a way that is incompatible with the client’s urgent demands when working in agile; all that is required is a change in course.

So, one milestone has been deleted and another added, but the basic goal of delivering the application as a whole has not changed. It’s all about matching tactical actions with strategic objectives.

It’s also crucial to limit the number of checkpoints under each main aim to a certain number. If there are more than five, the squad is prone to scramble and lose focus. Our team’s morale and productivity increased as a result of this approach, as the team became more focused. We’ve been hitting and tuning checkpoints every two weeks since implementing this approach.

Get started

Making client input an important component of the software delivery process is for more than just reducing lead times. Open communication with both engineers and clients demonstrates a commitment to improving everyone’s experience and establishing mutual trust and confidence.

For more info:

Also Read: