Understanding your customers’ needs is critical for success, but getting there can be complex and time consuming.
We’ve gotten to know McLeod Software, one of the largest software development companies in Birmingham, AL, as a coaching client. McLeod is a leading creator of transportation and trucking management software for carriers, brokers, 3PL providers, and shippers.
Much of McLeod's success comes from listening to their customers and providing software solutions for their problems. On Oct. 3, they gathered more than 60 key customers for their Executive Advisory Council to gain greater understanding of their needs and generate input into their road-mapping process.
Sigao has worked with McLeod since January as they’ve transitioned their development methodology from waterfall to Agile. McLeod's product managers didn't want to leave any process untouched, so they brought Agile thinking into their EAC process and received a lot of positive feedback.
Here are some lessons learned from McLeod’s successful process.
It can be difficult to gather feedback from large crowds
McLeod used a crowd-voting platform to reduce a large group of possible features to a smaller, more focused group. This gave everyone an equal voice and ability to focus on mission-critical areas.
Long requirements-gathering sessions can be painful
McLeod provided opportunities to move around, injected humor throughout their meeting, and even provided “fidget items” like Slinky toys and pipe cleaners. Participants focus better through complex meetings when they're allowed to move around and create.
Quiet people can easily hide in a crowd
When learning from your customers, you want to hear everyone. McLeod encouraged citizen note-takers to jot down any idea on a sticky note, then shared those ideas with the crowd. Everyone had a voice.
Developers can’t deliver everything in every release, so choices must be made
McLeod used a voting currency and MoSCoW prioritization to help developers find the functionality that will provide the highest value. This information will be combined with complexity estimates to build a product roadmap.
Moving forward with Agile
These are just a few techniques McLeod used to create a successful platform for gauging customer feedback. As they continue to grow their Agile methodology, they will iterate on these ideas, increase the volume of their user voice, and reduce time-to-value for customers.
McLeod will host another mid-year Executive Advisory Council in 2019 and will no doubt have more innovation to offer their attendees.
If you want to learn how to develop better requirements from your users, reach out to us and let our coaches offer their insight.