Preston Smith's Corner

How can I develop products more flexibly by working with customers?

March 2006 Quick Tip

Customers are — or should be — the starting point for any new product. Unfortunately, customers change their minds or do not know what they want when you start designing. If you are really going to listen to customers, you must find ways to accommodate the changes that they will bring.

Some developers attempt to skirt this issue by freezing the product specifications before starting design, but a previous Quick Tip “How can we complete our design work if marketing keeps changing the requirements?” showed that this is neither feasible nor wise. If you freeze the specifications, you rule out any guidance customers can give you.

There are several things you can do to improve your flexibility and openness to what you can learn from customers:

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