Diagnose, Deliver, Delight

August 28, 2013

Burger King used to have a marketing campaign for “Have It Your Way”. For a restaurant setting, it’s nice to be able to customize the normal menu for our tastes. But what does “Have It Your Way” really mean for our software clients? What’s on the menu for a successful project?

Diagnose the Problem

When a client comes to us with a project, the amount of forethought can vary from “I have an idea” to “I have a solution ready that just needs to be implemented”. We diagnose the problem-space and solution-space to figure out a game plan. Sometimes, envisioning the project is simply getting our terminology synchronized. Sometimes, we have some collaborative sessions and generate a plan with our clients organically.

However, sometimes a client can be too rigid for whatever reason. Maybe we’re a new contractor to them, and we do things “differently”. Maybe they’ve been in their solution-space so long that they can’t innovate their processes. There could be a lot of different reasons, but we always do one thing for all our clients: we bring a fresh and different perspective on their problem. We help them think outside the box. The client may not initially “have it their way”, but we eventually move toward a win-win situation for all parties.

No matter what road you take, we all end up with a shared vision of our problem and solution.

Deliver the Solution

This may sound cliché, but actually do what you said you would do.

After the diagnosis, all parties should have their expectations set. If everything runs smoothly, delivery should be simple. Even if everything doesn’t run smoothly, communicate. If a feature is going to take longer to deliver, let the client know. If an architecture change now is going to affect 3 features down the road, tell the client now. Adjust expectations and take the time to keep value flowing.

When we’re done, the client should have their solution, and the pizza guy should’ve delivered a pizza.

Delight the Client

Success Baby
When diagnosing a client needs, various techniques originating from studies of the Kano model can be utilized. We’re trying to get past the basics and into the performance and excitement features. The exciters get us the most bang for our buck, plus those are the ones the client remembers the most. The exciters are not only to be applied to the final product delivered, but also to the process in which the client received the product.

The journey is the reward.
– Steve Jobs

A properly diagnosed problem and solution will help prevent later catastrophes. Strategic delivery and good communication will allow value to be realized. A delighted and/or excited client means repeat business from them and new business generated from recommendations they gave to their friends. This combination allows for strong partnerships and engagements that can stand the test of time where everyone can “have it their way”.