In today’s world, the customer is king! Whether the customer is an internal customer of the business, an external B2B customer or a consumer, the same phrase applies.
Gone are the days when customer requirements were gathered over a number of months, parsed into specifications and the application delivered a number of years later.
The world is now all about the power of now. Customers want applications that satisfy their requirements literally in weeks while improvements to the application are expected weekly. This has led to the concept of getting a minimum viable product available (MVP) quickly while constantly improving it based on customer feedback and new requirements.
This has meant a fundamental change to the way applications are developed to ensure the customer experience is just right.
As the customer is king, they must be involved at all points in the design process. The goal is to ensure that the customer gets exactly what they want from day one and as the product improves.
The initial ability to fully prototype an application before delivering the first version is key. The customer needs to be able to see and feel how the application will work which can only happen if a prototype version of the software is developed; PowerPoint images simply will not do.
Providing a working prototype of an application to your customers in advance is a key component to delivering the initial application that they want such as:
- Creating a virtual service with test data, literally in minutes, which can then be used to develop the application prototype. This can ensure the customer gets a feel for how the application will be used, how it will map to the processes it supports and how responsive it will be.
- Creating services without access to the hardware or software where the real service is running, ensuring there is no dependency on teams or individuals outside the project ensuring the project teams timeline remains on course.
The result of this prototyping process are components and functionality that is reusable and will become a standard part of the application delivery lifecycle. This provides value during the design phase and during the next phase which involves the delivery and updating of the application.
Ensuring Delivery of Quality Applications
There is no point in delivering applications quickly to your customers if the quality of the product is not good. Apart from frustrating your customers, you run the risk of severe reputational damage to your brand via social media as people complain about what you have delivered to them.
- Introducing testing early in the development cycle i.e. the prototyping phase leads to a better tested product.
- Through the use of synthetic data all testing paths are covered not just those for which data has to be manually created.
Automation of Testing Cycle
By helping to automate much of the testing cycle and avoid incremental costs testing against expensive internal or external IT resources essentially ensures a fixed cost for testing. Now automation ensures that testing can be run exponentially more times than in the past with manual testing cycles.
Improved Application Support Experience
Customers understand that with any service or application, there can be issues. For the vast majority of customers, the main thing they experience is how they are assisted with any issues they have with an application. The key to this is to ensure that if they do have an issue, it is resolved as quickly as possible or a commitment is given to deal with a new requirement in some future version of the software.
Building on the work done during the research and delivery process, the support teams can reuse much of what has been developed as part of the process to improve the support experience for customers such as quickly creating an image of the customer’s environment to work through an issue with the customer.
This leads to an ability to rapidly recreate the issue the customer is seeing. It is a well-known fact that once an issue has been recreated, resolving that issue is quite straightforward. Many support requests are not delayed fixing the issues but are delayed trying to recreate the issue in the first place to fix it.
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