A stereotypical developer focuses only on the infinite lines of code and related tasks while not being concerned about the needs the client shared with us. However, this is not always the case. In these times of digital transformation, the software engineering industry is constantly evolving and more and more often we meet programmers who do not mind participating in the process of communicating with the client. It turns out that this approach allows you to create even better products. Additionally, the creativity, technological thinking, and experience of programmers also lead to avoiding many problems. Today we will focus on how you can improve the communication skills of developers who want to engage in a closer relationship with customers.
Regardless of how developers are involved in the relationship with the client and nearshore team, we have prepared some practical tips that will help improve the work process and build even better business relationships. Even if programmers focus only on their code assignments and try to stay out of the way when it comes to a project’s details, reading this article will definitely help them better understand the principles of working well together. If necessary, the CTO or project managers will deal with the non-technological aspects of the arrangements. And if you are a freelancer or startup creator who comprehensively handles most issues related to IT projects - all the more should you read the tips below.
Let the client and nearshore team know that the developer is involved
There is a misconception that programmers have to deal with their code, ask a few questions as possible, and deliver ready projects. Nothing could be more wrong. Communication related to software engineering projects should flow in two directions. When the customer presents his expectations for the product, who can define its technological limitations better than the developer? You shouldn’t ignore the view of the programmers just because it’s said that they are all introverts. This is false! Research on software engineers shows that introversion is only 10% more common in this professional group compared to the average! On the other hand, developers should also not avoid getting involved in a project at the stage of its UX/UI design, optimization, and proper development. Show that you care and it will be appreciated. If the client sees that your comments are about real improvements to certain solutions or to avoid problems, they will feel well taken care of. It’s important that the project managers and team leaders involved in the project support programmers and encourage them to share their thoughts, as well as engage them in some correspondence with the client, if possible. However, be careful with real-world meetings. Very often, a larger group of people is an unnecessary waste of time. Including developers in the communication that results from preliminary arrangements based on specific demands will be a much better solution.
When communicating with the client, it is worth using the language of benefits. Describing the most advanced algorithms of a software engineering project does not make sense if the client does not understand what real advantages will be brought to him by using a given solution. You should also listen carefully to the client's needs. Trying to push through something that we think is super modern and extensive can end in failure if the client needs something completely different. We can advise and propose alternative solutions, but the first thing we need to address is why we are creating the software engineering project. In most cases, clients will not be people who are proficient in technological vocabulary. If something is unclear, the developer should immediately act as a translator - from the programming language to the human. Also, remember about the very important “human factor”. The point is that making mistakes happens to everyone and we don't have to play the infallible at all costs. Let's be professional but remember that there are people like us on both sides of the relationship. This will be especially useful when deadlines are exceeded, or problems arise during the work. Be transparent and honestly explain what happened. Such action will always be received better than cheap excuses and telling half-truths.
The bigger the project we are working on, the more important are the communication channels and team cooperation. This applies not only to the client-developer relationship but to all other entities involved in the project: designers, project managers, team leaders, and other extended team members. The right information needs to flow to the different departments at the right time. It is worth preparing lists of necessary questions and information that should be exchanged. This will not only improve the work on the software engineering project but also make the client well-informed at the end of such communication about what we are doing for them. The exchange of messages should be based on specific facts and should be as concise as possible to take care of the valuable time of the developer and client. Before you waste an hour describing the problem in slack or in an email, think about whether a quick phone call or Skype conversation will bring better results. It’s good practice to acknowledge receipt of messages or tasks, as well as informing the other side when we manage to deal with them. If a certain issue has to wait a while in our backlog, let's explain that in advance so as to avoid situations where someone expects an answer earlier than possible. All these seemingly small things contribute to the improvement of the quality of communication, and thus a better relationship with the client and the entire team.
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