I am systemizing my client validation process. Yesterday’s post about the questions to ask before a UI engagement was just a small piece. This is important to me for two reasons; I get to streamline a process that is very messy (dealing with people is messy) and gives me a way of extracting important information about a specific problem domain. This should make the sales conversations go much smoother. Also, the responses to the questions will help me flesh out the legal work contract between the client and me.
Asking good questions is hard. It requires a high degree of listening to ask pertinent questions. Some of us are so preoccupied with what to say next or worried about how we are perceived, that we don’t listen to other people. If you don’t hear what other people are telling you is a business problem, then how do you expect to dig deeper, much less solve their problem. It also requires that the person asking the questions has a high degree of confidence. If you are afraid to challenge other’s preconceived thoughts, all in the name of not making things “uncomfortable,” then you will let dangerous assumptions go unchecked. Incorrect assumptions or major blind spots will not only cause significant slowdowns in a web application project but may also lead to having to terminate the engagement and offer the client a refund. This results in loss of money, time, and reputation.
In summary, asking more quality questions will yield more quality answers. And in any project, blind spots and incomplete answers will lead to huge problems down the road.
- Actively listen to what the client is saying.
- Vague questions will yield vague answers.
- Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions.