How to get what you want from software developers

By Thom Holmes, ITworld.com |  Business

  • Prior to each standing meeting, and with the help of team members, develop a
    preliminary list of feature requirements and assumptions that can be used for
    discussion. You should also moderate the discussions to keep them focused and relevant
    to the task at hand.

  • Do your homework. It is the job of the client organization to clearly define and
    inform the developer of its needs. Every feature of the program will require some
    homework on the part of the client. Make homework assignments at the conclusion of each
    standing meeting and give deadlines. You will wrangle the answers to these assignments
    by working with team members.

  • Arrange for smaller discussions between meetings with developer and client team
    members on highly specific topics requiring additional detail.

  • Require the developer to report in writing on the results of each standing
    meeting within 24 hours. This will confirm the decisions that were made.

  • Recommend a weekly meeting, at the developer's site if feasible, between the
    most technically knowledgeable members of the client team and the developer's technical
    team. The purpose is to provide access to members of the client team who have
    information that will help the software engineers. This will undoubtedly result in more
    homework, which is good. It will also make the developer's efforts more clearly visible
    than they would otherwise be without these meetings.

  • The client should actively participate in drafting of the Functional
    Specifications. This will take a little more time up front but result in a solid
    specification that will have few surprises when it comes time to review the final
    draft.

  • Publicize the results of these activities to management through emails, regular
    status reports, and informal channels to assure them that the project is moving forward
    at a healthy pace.

  • These are some of the simple techniques that a project manager can use to keep a
    development effort on track in its early stages, even before one line of code has been
    written.

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