Transparency in Software Products

Published on Saturday, August 9, 2008


Transparency in Software Products

Lack of transparency leads to an "us and them" attitude. It breeds contempt for your customer. Customers are forced to provide feedback at a point when changes are very high friction and hard to manage. It forces the development team to follow through with undesired functionality simply because "its too late in the development cycle".

No one disputes that iterative development is a bad methodology; but some organizations simply don't follow it. They promote iterative development and say they're iteratively developing; but they aren't. They periodically provide their releases and sometimes publicly available betas; but that's not iterative. Iterative development is when working parts of the final products are made available to a customer independantly. Without making working parts available for feedback by the customer independent of final delivery; it's fundamentally waterfall.

Iterative development is fundamentally a transparent development process. There's different levels of transparency that an organization can implement; but without iterative development an organization or team is fundamentally opaque.

There are many leaders in the software development industry who have adopted and endorse Agile. Agile recognizes that the software end product is a product for customers and the process hinges on customer satisfaction. At it's core, Agile is about transparency. It's about continual feedback from the customer to ensure work is cost effective. Without involvement from the customer, work involved on that software end product is a waste.

Agile is so prevalent some software development certifications are based on it.

Signs of an opaque methodology:

  • Issues raised by customers are responded to with:
    • "That's by design"
    • "this will be considered for the next release"
    • "that's work"
  • Issues raised by customers to be dealt with in a future release are lost or forgotten when that future release is made public.

If you use software from a company that exhibits these traits, you should everything in your power to tell them that it is unacceptable and that you simply won't put up with it.

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