Here’s the number one question for software developers:

What is the end business value of the product, feature or new implementation I am being asked to create?

Developers who can answer this question demonstrate:

  • An understanding of context
  • The ability to prioritize their efforts
  • The ability to advocate for the end user and the overall success of a product

This question has everything to do with allowing custom software developers to focus on the day-to-day implementation of their craft while still being able to think about the big picture.

Knowing the answer in any given situation will help you to understand if a requested feature will contribute to the core purpose of the product. It will also help you to understand whether the product itself resolves the client’s key bottleneck issue.

The Number One Question for Software Developers: “What” Plus “Why”

Savvy developers are critical for the success of any digital product. A developer needs to understand the day-to-day implementation of their craft, while keeping the big picture in focus as well.

Part of understanding the bigger picture is to understand the “why” behind what they are developing. It will help them create features that make sense and prevent them from wasting time on features that don’t contribute to the end value of the project. It puts them in position to encourage their team and the client to stay on course.

Understanding the scope of the project empowers the developer to be able to say “no” to the requests that may take the work off course or fall outside the parameters.

Amazon Software Development Manager Jesse Watson understands the value of developers who are able to think within this larger context. Watson develops the software at the heart of Amazon order fulfillment – a tall task in the world of software development. Here’s his take on what software developers need to know, from his article “The Hard Thing About Software Development:”

“The most valuable asset in the software industry is the synthesis of programming skill and deep context in the business problem domain in one skull.”

Understanding the Larger Context Equips You to Keep Projects on Course

The client hired a software development company to professionally build their digital product. If a developer has reason to believe that a specific request may hinder the success of a project, or prevent it from realizing stated goals, it’s the developer’s obligation to speak up.

Understanding the business value for a project gives developers a healthy parameter to do just that. It’s important for developers to take ownership in the end product. This means maintaining a healthy dialog with the client that revolves around the larger picture of the project.

It’s important for developers to understand how to say “no” in a positive and constructive manner. For instance, you can always recommend positive recommendations and alternatives. You can also take the time to reaffirm common goals.

Maintaining a positive attitude and reaffirming your shared interest in a successful outcome can help keep the relationship strong in these moments.

It’s All About the User | Number One Question for Software Developers

Custom software developers are in the business of delivering value to the end client. The end product must improve their business and solve a problem in some way. When each member of the team understands the business value and the systems are in place to work toward it, true collaboration can take place and the deliverable improves.

Understanding the context around a project also allows you the ability to critically evaluate each step and eliminate the activities that may take your project off course.