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  • Writer's pictureDeeanne Clarke

Banish ambiguity: be clear on your objectives.

Picture the scene...

Customer and supplier talk to discuss delivering a piece of work and come to an agreement. Supplier comes back a week or so later, feeling pretty pleased, having sourced a prize merino sheep. Meets the supplier...

It's a sheep!

But you said you wanted something with four legs, hooves, and eats grass. Costs a lot of money.

I wanted a horse!

Both scratch heads.

Moral: Banish Ambiguity!

Method: Write good product descriptions and good acceptance criteria. Be specific where appropriate and support with examples, drawings and diagrams. Confirm progress! If you want a horse say that you want horse, establish the acceptance criteria, the budget, the time scale and so on.

Anecdote: About 20 years ago, I was invited to work at short notice on a project for a supplier doing some work for Lufthansa. The supplier had spent about a year working on a solution for a new ticketing system for check-in desks. Proudly they were ready to show the solution. On seeing it, the customer was aghast.

Where was Novell, where was ZENworks? The supplier was dumbfounded. They had produced a Microsoft build, whereas the supplier was expecting a Novell solution. I came in and helped turn it around. In the end it was a great success, but a very costly lesson.

Times and products change, but understanding your client's needs is timeless.

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