Improving Your Relationship With Development Teams: “The Company Card”

Imagine you’re hiring someone to buy a few groceries for you. You write up a quick list of what you want and send them to the store with your credit card. You said you wanted a nice red wine, but not an 1811 bottle of Château_d’Yquem. They left off quinoa, because who really likes that anyway. They also got you some Cheetos. Everyone loves those, but, not on the list!

Groceries with List

Typically, a client is paying a development team for their time. Ideally, at any given second, the team is working on the things that the client would deem most important. Realistically, there’s often a disconnect between what’s being worked on, what’s being communicated, and what’s most important.

Here’s a few potential reasons why:

  • The team (client and development team) doesn’t create a list or creates an ambiguous list.
  • There’s a lack of priorities within that list.
  • The development team isn’t following the list (going rogue or making decisions on behalf of the client).

As developers, most of us have the client’s best intentions at heart. We’re often making judgment calls on the best ways to spend our time. However, at the start of a relationship with a client, we’re developing trust.

At the start of the relationship both sides should overemphasize

  • Communication. Have regular cadences of discussion.
  • Transparency. Have the ability for the client to see what the development team is working on at any given time.
  • Clarity. Make no assumptions in either direction. Check in when things are question marks.

Trust will build in the client as the developments team’s decisions start to mirror what their own would be. As trust builds, there can sometimes be a shifting from manufactured transparency to enlightened ownership, i.e. I trust that you know what is most important to me.

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