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7 keys to delivering better applications faster

Roald Kruit, Mendix | May 14, 2014
While my co-founders and I were in business school, we saw firsthand how painful and frustrating it is to be involved in the application development process from the business side. So we set out to improve collaboration between IT and the business and to make development radically faster and simpler while ensuring project success.

6. Close collaboration with end user testers (during UAT). User acceptance testing (UAT) is typically a last but important phase of the development cycle. While something might work from a technical perspective, there's no guarantee it will "work" from a business perspective so UAT serves as the final validation by the business. Traditionally, though, UAT is a formal procedure with a large amount of overhead, such as creating tickets, planning them for release, etc.

UAT assessments can be made on the spot without following a formal, time-consuming procedure. By collaborating closely with the end user test team, business engineers can identify and fix small issues immediately on the fly. Changes are typically implemented so fast that the test team is often able to test the fixed application/functionality before they would have even been able to create a ticket. This approach simplifies and improves the progress of bug fixing and testing in general with better feedback from, and experience for, the end-user.

7. Implement a feedback loop to capture end-user feedback. The number of end users is always bigger than the project team you're working with (including the business representatives). Therefore, it's important to facilitate end user feedback to identify those details or issues which are not known within the smaller group responsible for building the software.

The challenge is that traditionally, there have been large barriers to providing feedback: complex ticketing systems, unwieldy spreadsheets, or e-mails that end up in a black hole. In addition, it's often difficult for end users to explain exactly what they were doing and what they expected from the application. Meanwhile, feedback like "it doesn't work properly" is useless for developers who require all sorts of follow-up contextual questions.

There is technology that helps to solve these issues by including a feedback button in every application. With a simple click, end users can provide feedback, automatically capturing the context (which user, browser, form, etc.) and including it with the user story that's submitted to the development team. It's all part of the same platform no additional system, process or implementation required so user feedback immediately ends up with the relevant development team and can be easily reviewed and addressed.

Let's face it: the perception of the quality of the software is largely related to minor semantic elements: the sequence of input fields, proper captions, etc. Because these changes take minutes to implement and deploy, they are quick wins that can help you to get more value from the software while making end users more enthusiastic.

Conclusion

Despite all of the discussion, there is still a clear disconnect between IT and the business. According to the IT Governance Institute, 50% of organizations lack any formal structure to align IT investments with business strategy. Meanwhile, a CIO Magazine survey reveals that 71% of projects fail because of poor business requirements management.

 

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