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Our development team did do an interesting experiment to elect the most critical demands, those ones that needed to be built first. To reach this, we created a spreadsheet that, although our creation, brought ideas from other worksheets that came across to us here in the company.
We took advantage of a forum that happened among 30 people, all heavy-users of our software. In it, our main tool was a spreadsheet (link at end of article), whose tabs are described below:
- DEMANDS: A simple list of demands with the improvements requested by users. It’s the result of months of informal conversations, emails, phone calls etc. It has an ID column to make the lookup easier, a title and a brief description. This spreadsheet was printed only once, and stayed with me throughout the work;
- FORM: Almost the same of the DEMANDS worksheet, but with an empty column where each participant will fill out your vote. It was printed in sufficient number to have one for each participant;
- FEEDBACKS: The lines, again, are the demands. Each column represents a person present in the forum. The intersection is the vote of each one to the demand. We ask the participants a rating from 1 to 10, corresponding to the size of the benefit this demand will brings to their area, if it be built. The last column of this spreadsheet is a simple average of the votes between 1 and 10. Thus, if the demand is beyond the scope of work of the participant, he/she can vote 0 (zero) and your vote will be ignored in the average;
- CALC: Here’s the trick. Days before this forum, we did the same job with the developers. In this worksheet is only computed the averages given by them to every demand. The developers rated from 1 to 10 corresponding to the size of the effort that the demand would have to be built. Then we applied a tiny part of AI (fuzz / defuzz) to classify the effort between “Little” and “Much”. The other two columns do the same with the attribute voted by the participants. The first column only replicates the values from FEEDBACKS worksheet, and the second one classify the value between “Little” and “Much”;
- GRAPH: Its a quadrant that arranges the demands inside groups according to their benefit and effort, as below:
To fill out the worksheet FEEDBACKS, we paused the presentation by one hour, giving time for another presentation to happen.
The result of this work is the best. It’s the match of your users most want / need, with that the developers say be easier to build first. Thus, in the quadrants of the graph, you will notice which clearly demands bring much benefit with little effort, for instance. This adds value to development, customer relationship, and here, has brought more excitement and satisfaction to the developers.
Now I look forward opinions about where in the process this worksheet will bring more help. Here we used in the maintenance phase. I believe which in new projects, the greatest gain would come in the phase of transition of the product, where there is a certain level of knowledge between the supplier and customer.
The workbook is published in XLS and will work normally in OpenOffice Calc. This is hosted on GitHub, and you can get it clicking here.
See you 😉