Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can Your Team Pass The Elevator Test?

This is a snip from coding horror;

Can Your Team Pass The Elevator Test?

Software developers do love to code. But very few of them, in my experience, can explain why they're coding. Try this exercise on one of your teammates if you don't believe me. Ask them what they're doing. Then ask them why they're doing it, and keep asking until you get to a reason your customers would understand.

What are you working on?
I'm fixing the sort order on this datagrid.

Why are you working on that?
Because it's on the bug list.

Why is it on the bug list?
Because one of the testers reported it as a bug.

Why was it reported as a bug?
The tester thinks this field should sort in numeric order instead of alphanumeric order.

Why does the tester think that?
Evidently the users are having trouble finding things when item 2 is sorted under item 19.

If this conversation seems strange to you, you probably haven't worked with many software developers. Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, it might surprise you just how many times you have to ask "why" until you get to something-- anything-- your customers would actually care about.

It's a big disconnect.

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