“Hey, Ivo I would like you guys to add a few features to your product to do <high level description>. I really need that.” a customer told me over the phone. After discussing their wish in more detail, it seemed to be an edge case.
I asked him to put his request in an email, stressing that it did not need to be anything fancy. Just a short description of what they wanted the product to do and why. Having these things in writing is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- It obliges the customer to think through what they want and structure their ideas. It is easy to get away with a bit of nonsense in a conversation, but in a document you can spot bullsh*t from a mile away.
- Having it described by the customer ensures nothing is left out, or interpreted the wrong way. If I would do the documentation there could easily be an error caused by wrong assumptions. Imagine, for example, that the discussion was about building a house. The word house creates an image in your mind, but it does not coincide with what I am thinking of.
- A written request is easier to share with others and track for future reference.
- The product might already be capable of doing what the customer wants because of an existing feature or workaround we both missed.
- It is a good way to determine if a feature really is important for the customer. Otherwise they will not spend a few minutes to document their request.
All of this makes putting things in writing the best bullsh*t filter. Tell me over coffee someday if you agree 😉