Understanding needs and requirements come with the definition of duties of the client-facing system analyst. Understanding requirements early is the secret to avoiding feeling let down. It’s the secret to good school grades and happy customers in every field.
As one hairdresser mentioned, a client seriously wondered if the cut hair could be reversed after the haircut!
This post explains why we should try and spend a lot of mental energy and some time at the front end of any task that will likely take us a few hours, days, weeks, or longer.
Measure Twice but Cut Once
This English proverb puts the idea succinctly. Watch expert Carpenters and Tailors at work, and you realize why they always do this. You cannot grow back cut wood or cut cloth!
Here are some situations where our dear readers might find the idea useful.
If you have ever felt that you got poor grades despite working hard on anything – there is a great marketing lesson:
You failed to understand the requirements early.
As any teacher will tell you, numerous students do not read the syllabus or misread the question. Without reading the syllabus, it’s hard to focus your efforts appropriately. And we tend to underestimate the effort and time required, so even after understanding requirements- there is execution to be done. And execution is messy and unstructured till you can develop a process. See the planning fallacy.
Yes, sometimes the question is not straightforward, and it’s good to ask the teacher, and teachers are happy to explain. The best teachers enjoy questions to clarify as it helps them remain intellectually agile – one of the perks of teaching!
B2B and high-value B2C
And the same logic applies to keeping customers happy. Great Real Estate Agents do this. They’ll show you many houses to help you understand and clarify your requirements. And so do great car salespeople, life insurance agents, and financial advisors. They spend a lot of time and effort in understanding the problem you are trying to solve for yourself.
Tips to understand requirements early
- Before you say yes: You get a request because you have made yourself available, and the customer perceives you can do the job well. Before you say yes to a new project or customer, it is time to figure out if you want to do it. And importantly, if you can do it. You may want to do a project but cannot because you are over-booked. The general rule is to take up work that you can do well. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
- Preview the work involved: A first quick approach is to search online to assess the work involved in the new project. Search on Google, and YouTube, as they might have some good tips that give you a sense of the customer, requirements, and typical customer complaints. Software folks look at GitHub; something should be in your specific industry. Reddit is also a good source; specific industry groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc., can help. If you have a trusted expert who is a friend or mentor, ask that person after doing the direct online research. We all are guilty of skipping secondary research despite Google being ready to give us results!
- Meeting the customer before signing up: Before you sign up to do the work based on your secondary research, meet your customer. In all situations, the customer must “do “something after you have supplied your piece of the product or service. “Doing” something could mean just using something appropriately. As software system suppliers will tell you, organizations buy expensive software and hardly seem to use it.
- Buyers Remorse–Cooling off period after signing the contract: Give three days cooling off period for large contracts as the FTC suggests. We believe that the rule is helpful to sellers as well, as no seller wants an unhappy buyer even before the supply has started.
- You got paid, but the customer does not use is bad news: You might feel good that you got paid and there are few customer support calls. But this could be a very costly strategy if many buyers are non-users. It turns the B2B buying center on its head. If many customers don’t experience the value of your offering, customer satisfaction, referrals, and market share can only go down.
To summarize, careful thinking without too much time can lead to more success (fewer letdowns!) and happier customers.