Knowing when to ignore user requirements

In CRM projects, engaging and involving end-users to understand their requirements is crucial. Imposing a system is rarely the best approach, but there is a lot of interpretation needed to translate what users say they need into a working useable solution.

For example, people say things like “I’d like the accounts team to check a box on a customer record when they want to show the sales team that the account is on hold and we shouldn’t sell to them”. This translates to the sales teams needing to be able to see when an account is on hold. Different systems and different implementations can deliver this in different ways. Finding the most elegant solution, that will be the best in terms of usability, often means ignoring the stated requirement and reinterpreting it. Another “gotcha” is where management stipulate requirements, perhaps even over-riding staff, that in fact don’t reflect the true use case. Get more than one point of view if possible, especially from the front line.

Done badly, this can result in very unhappy clients and that’s why so many consultants prefer the safe route of taking down exactly what clients ask for. They deliver software configured according to those requirements and voila, their backs are covered even if the result is an over engineered solution that’s awkward to use.

But a wise consultant will know the software, work with its predetermined structures as much as possible and gently steer user requirements so that the customisation is minimised and the inherent workflows and functionality that exist in the software are kept intact.

Great developers of great software understand that user requirements need interpretation. It shows in their software. Look for this software and look for consultants who understand people and how they use software, and good things will happen in your business.

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