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Solving Project Communication Problems

by Michael Smith

We are always seeking ways to improve communication between end users and programmers. I recently gave a talk on this subject at the Capitol PC User Group's Entrepreneurs SIG. The audience came up with a list of common communication problems that they had seen and we looked at how we could solve them using free open source tools. The issues we came up with included:

  • User and developer speak a different language
  • "that is not what I meant"
  • Developer "knows" what user wants (doesn't really)
  • Poor cost estimates
  • Poor time estimates
  • Confusion about who is responsible for what
  • Late requirements, scope creep
  • Invalid testing
  • Multiple people – on either user or programmer site - causing miscommunication
  • "Game of telephone" – miscommunication passed on
  • People change – forgotten requirements
  • Missed the mark of strategy
  • How does it integrate into larger system
  • Foreign Language issues

We looked at several tools and approaches to solve the communications problems:

  • Wireframing: a blueprint for your application
  • HTML prototypes: a photograph from the "future" of how your complete application will look
  • DevNotes: a tool to document changes in scope during prototyping
  • Formal signoff: to freeze scope before development starts.

For more details see article at http://www.cfug-md.org/articles/coldfusion_mx_and_fusebox.cfm

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