Outside in developmentI was just reading one of our author’s blog – Carl Kessler, author of Outside-in Software Development: A Practical Approach to Building Successful Stakeholder-based Products.

I have taken the liberty to post his entry at the start of 2008.

“Three simple resolutions can get you going down the path of delivering more successful products. You can get started today:

1. Figure out who your product’s stakeholders really are. You probably already know to think about your end-users. Get in the habit of considering two other stakeholders as well: partners and insiders.

Partners are the folks who have to put your product into production and keep it running. They might be in your client’s IT shop or might be third-party service providers. Think about making it easy for these folks to keep your product running well; it will pay off big-time.

Also try to identify all your product’s insider stakeholders. These are the folks in your own organization who have a stake in the product you ship and who affect your work in some measurable way. Insiders may include your finance, sales, support, or architecture and standards teams.

The key question for insiders is the same as for all other stakeholders: what do they need from you to be most successful? We often don’t think about this question enough, especially for insiders. For example, ask your sales team what they most need. You might find out it is a set of early demos, or you might gain vital intelligence about the features that really matter in competitive sales scenarios. Similarly, ask you support team what it would take to fix clients’ problems faster. There’s much to learn here.

2. Focus on your product’s consumability. In other words, how easy is it for everyone who has to deal with your product to do so easily and productively? This can generate a wide range of questions, such as: is it easy to figure out how much CPU or memory is required to use your product in some standard production situations? Can it be readily installed and integrated with other systems? Do your end-users require training to take advantage of key features, and how can you minimize the cost and time required, make it fun, or at least provide it in a way that helps your users feel smart?”

Here’s infomation on Carl’s book:

In Outside-in Software Development, two of IBM’s most respected software leaders, Carl Kessler and John Sweitzer, show you how to identify the stakeholders who’ll determine your project’s real value, shape every decision around their real needs, and deliver software that achieves broad, rapid, enthusiastic adoption.

The authors present an end-to-end framework and practical implementation techniques any development team can quickly benefit from, regardless of project type or scope. Using their proven approach, you can improve the effectiveness of every client conversation, define priorities with greater visibility and clarity, and make sure all your code delivers maximum business value.

Coverage includes

  • Understanding your stakeholders and the organizational and business context they operate in
  • Clarifying the short- and long-term stakeholder goals your project will satisfy
  • More effectively mapping project expectations to outcomes
  • Building more “consumable” software: systems that are easier to deploy, use, and support
  • Continuously enhancing alignment with stakeholder goals
  • Helping stakeholders manage ongoing change long after you’ve delivered your product
  • Mastering the leadership techniques needed to drive outside-in development

 At IBM Press, we think this is a great book.  But don’t just take my word for it – check this out:

Carl let his readers know the book is up for an award: 

“The annual Jolt Award finalists were announced on December 21st. The idea of the Jolts is to “recognize the most innovative, trend-making, ahead-of-the-curve products. Jolt-award winners are the software products, books and websites that developers should be using today.”

And, wow, “Outside-in Software Development” is a finalist! What makes this particularly exciting is the strength of the entries, as the other finalists are also really good. I don’t envy the decision making task of the 19 industry leaders who are the judges.

If you’re looking for some good reading as we go into the new year, you can’t go wrong to check out the list of past Jolt Award winners – there are some great books there.”