Normally, the people that were interacting with as a software consultancy shop don’t know a lot about software development, so we have to start by exploring their project scope and budget.
Typically our clients have a general understanding of the problem to be solved, but not see the 5-10 different ways of solving it nor the difference in difficulty between those options, so there is a lot of vagueness when it comes to the project scope.
Our first task then is to help clients discover what their true problems are, and how to solve those with custom software solutions as simply as possible.
There also tends to be vagueness around budget – many people either have no budget or do not understand the true cost of custom software. SaaS products promise one-size-fits-all solutions at a small price tag, but having a product tailored to your exact needs is a different animal.
Over-seas operations likewise add confusion around the cost of software development as they promise inexpensive developers, but these are often not the best solution due to breakdowns in communication and delivery standards.
When you are building a complex, unique product clear communication is paramount for building the right thing in a timely manner.
If you are considering building custom software, take a look at our article about when custom software is needed.
Business Context is Key
Often it is best to start software projects with questions about the business before talking tech. What is your business? What your business problems are you trying to solve?
Once we understand the business context and are able to empathize with their needs, we can talk about what needs to be built from a software perspective.
Many times our Client Empathy process often gives us the insight we need in order to suggest ways of doing things that reduce complexity, or might have a better user experience, or reduce the cost of the build – sometimes reducing the price tag by 75%!
Once a project is under way, the Client Empathy process is not over.
As part of our iterative development process we frequently follow up with our clients, asking, “how are things going? Are you happy with this? Are we headed in the right direction?”
Client Empathy is how we mitigate the biggest risk: building the wrong thing.
We realize this principle doesn’t make us completely unique in the industry. There are lots of good folks out there doing great work.
The difficulty is there’s a lot of companies who are not doing it well, and it’s very difficult for an a person who’s not educated in software development to get through the salesmanship that makes everybody sound the same.
At the end of the day, choosing a development shop is about trust, as is any other business relationship. We value Client Empathy and honest, candid, transparent communication because those are the foundations of a trusting business relationship.
If you want to see what an engagement with Level 12 looks like, contact us, and we will be happy to consult with you and your team.