I have been in IT for a long time. While working in different companies and departments I have gained a lot of contacts and acquaintances. Interestingly enough, I have been encountering the same issue everywhere.
Let’s play with our imagination. You are creating a feature that allows receiving payments via your website. At some point it turns out that a part of your users gets a bit less post-payment services than others. All in all, it’s not critical. Here also comes business department and tells you that there is no time to fix it, so let’s just make some amendments manually in database. “Don’t waste so much time on it, we don’t have that many of such users” – they say.
What does it lead to
This kind of stories is normally double and triple as time goes by. In this case you get a lot of Finally it comes to a situation when the user scenarios are broken.“change the database access manually”, “check who’s made the last change in this ad”, “look up this user’s email” and so on and so forth. Later it starts taking a whole lot of team’s time (the time you didn’t really have initially). The team lands into the motivational trap, as it normally wants to go forward and see how people use their product. Some of the developers cooperate and end up with a dysfunctional product and a huge amount of time wasted on solving users’ claims. And not to forget – those kinds of tasks are always urgent and demand a drastic switch of attention. A lot of teams end up with a couple of on-call employees (and it’s not a good solution). If you let the situation go as it is, finally it damages the whole project and team’s motivation (as your team gets quite fed up with this routine).
A solution to this problem
I can offer you a solution to this problem. Remember that IT-specialists cost a lot. So, to spend their time on something abstract is quite a questionable waste of money. Firstly, find out what percentage of users encounter a particular problem. Secondly, count the time your employee is going to deal with it manually. Now compare it with time spent on creating a simple interface for your business department to solve these users’ issues. Normally this comparison is a key to the right decision (however, it needs to be based on your certainty and patience). The right way is to calculate a systematic solution i.e. time to fix a bug or minor functional defect. This example is going to be an illustration. You need to make clear, that solving a problem once is better, since the team won’t waste time on tiring actions over and over again.
After a couple of such cases it’s a good idea to sit down with your business department and decide on one of two options – either you create an interface for your business colleagues (so they manage the claims themselves) or you find a systematic solution to the problem.
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