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Showing posts from October, 2012

Customers, users and other myths

Evey project we undertake has a sponsor.  This may be someone in Academic Registry, in the Finance Department, a College, or any other area of the university.  The sponsor is the person who requests the project and in some cases also provides the funds to make it happen.

Until recently, we called this person "the customer".  Which made sense in one way, as they were requesting and possibly paying for the project.  Calling them the customer encouraged us to focus on satisfying their requirements and steered us away from a purely IT-based view of the world.

Of course, these people were usually senior managers and usually did not actually use the systems we were building or buying.  The users, or sometimes "end users", were a different group entirely.  Although I've never met someone who called themselves an "end user".

The downside of these terms is that they aren't accurate and they obscure the requirements of the systems rather than illuminate them…

Time to say "thank you"

When writing this blog, I'm always tempted to write about a current project, or a new IT technology, or some aspect of the service we provide.  This belies the fact that a lot of our job is about people, whether they are the people who use our systems, the people we work with in other parts of the University, or the people in our own teams.  One of the most important aspects of my job is to support my staff as they do the actual development work.  As development staff, we tend to immerse ourselves in the current interesting (or frustrating) problem, then the next project.  We focus on how we can improve systems, or processes, or ways of working.

That is why this week I organised a small social evening to say a personal "Thank you" to everyone in Development Services for the work they have put in over the past year.  This was a time for looking back rather than forward, for considering the whole rather than the part, and for taking stock.  More prosaically, it also brough…