NEWS February 24th, 2020

Transparency, Teamwork, & Trust: The Joys Of Collaborative Specification

When it comes to putting software requirements together; transparency, teamwork, and trust are key to a successful project.

That’s why we put so much emphasis on ‘collaborative specification’ here at Levi9, as part of any customer project.

But what does it actually involve? What’s the process? Who needs to be part of it? Is it essential? Does it make things easier?

So many questions(!). Let’s take a closer look.

Transparency

In order to get the result our customers’ need, they have to tell us exactly what they’re trying to achieve – right from the outset.

It’s mission critical. It’s not ‘cos we’re nosy; we just need to fully understand our customers’ business goals – in order to start building a software solution that’ll hit their objectives.

It’s not always easy for businesses to define and specify their requirements alone – which is why collaborative specification is a great way to start. It helps everyone involved to focus on the ambition rather than the innovation.

Likewise, as a software development company, we need to make it crystal clear what we’re able to offer given time, budgets, and expectations. It’s a consultative approach, but it keeps everyone honest about what’s possible.

Teamwork

Collaborative specification also ensures that we set a precedent for ongoing communication and activity with our customers – which are essential for any successful partnership. This means we need to involve potential users and stakeholders across the customers’ business – in addition to the IT team and the software engineers building the new solution.

Of course, some customers often have very clear and detailed requirements prepared, while others (the vast majority) don’t. But involving development teams in this way, we can ask the right questions and challenge requirements – to ensure the correct actions are taken.

However prepared our customers are, it’s important that everyone is aligned, shares the same goals, and has the same understanding – which is why we take a similar approach to best practice with every customer. Success hinges on being able to verify requirements and close gaps in understanding.

Trust

Overall, collaborative specification allows us to build trust with our customers – right from the very start of our relationship. It levels the playing field by establishing the expertise of everyone involved – which sets up a true partnership rather than a ‘client-supplier’ hierarchy.

When there is no collaboration between business and technical teams in defining software requirements, there’s a high chance that the incorrect assumptions will be made, which eventually leads to the wrong solution being created. When you have trust, you have honesty. And when you’re easily able to have an open conversation, you can save a lot of hassle, time, and money.

Work In Progress

A nice example that demonstrates exactly how we handle the collaborative specification process is the approach we implemented with our customer: one of the largest energy providers in the Netherlands.

After breaking down the process into individual project milestones, we conducted a user story mapping session to identify important pieces of functionality and to outline the fundamental steps needed for the desired user flow.

This was an opportunity for the product owner, business representatives, and the development team to contribute to the specification process. It also allowed us to spot dependencies with third party systems early on, and to point out technical possibilities and any system restrictions – in order to plan an Agile release.

We’ve noticed that with this approach teams are more proactive in sharing ideas during implementation. Also, when the time is taken to understand each requirement, there’s a higher chance that the right solution will be built first time – as the potential issues and functional gaps are detected before the team starts developing code.

At Levi9, we enjoy being involved in the process of co-creation, as we have vast experience with different collaborative specification models and techniques – to help our customers get from idea to high quality working software in the shortest time possible.

To talk to our experts about how we can get your next software project up and running, drop us a line on info@levi9.com.

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