Don’t Give In To Your Customer

As a developer, I work on a variety of platforms to deliver solutions to customers.

That’s my niche — you (the customer) have a number of platforms that you don’t know how to connect to and leverage — that’s where I come in to make them work

I’ve been doing this for years and am always surprised to find customers using a 1/10th of what they’ve purchased either because they don’t know how to use it, they don’t know they have it or they don’t want to use it.

In 80% of the cases, it’s a case of “they don’t want to use it” simply because “they’ve been doing it this way, make it work this way in that new thing”.

TL;DR — Take what we have now and upgrade it, but don’t change anything.

Imagine going from a car to a truck but not using any of the features that the truck can afford you.

I don’t need to use the flatbed for storage, I’ll just use this little corner over here in the backseat.
Why would I use 4 wheel drive to go up that hill? I can back up it just fine?
My old car could only tow 500lbs, why do more (even though your new truck now supports 3500lbs)

I could keep going on through a variety of features but I’m not that much of a Car Expert so hopefully, you get the point — you’ve paid for something new and you are not using it for what it can do but what your old “thing” does.

It sounds silly, but customers do this with software all the time.

I’ve worked on projects where customers want to port an entire application to a new platform to use one feature. All the work that went into redesigning a schema, ensuring communication worked between both systems, etc, etc and all they wanted was the old system on a new platform with one new feature.

You must be shaking your head at this point — I still am.

And this is the example where I gave in and did it their way so they would be happy.

And they were happy for a while, things were good, they had what they had before and their One new Feature.

But change is in the air…

“Why are we doing it this way?”

“Do we have to do it this way?”

“Can we use this stuff in the new platform to save time?”

All valid questions, all painting the customer further into a corner to simply port their application to a new platform instead of considering how and why they should migrate.

And here I am wondering why I gave in…

I should have pushed back more.

I should have been more proactive and showed them more demos.

I should have put together more decks to send around.

I should have pushed them to line up meetings with other stakeholders to show them what’s next.

I should have worked to find that one champion that would show them what could be done and how?

I should have been the developer they needed and not the one they wanted.

I shouldn’t have given up and next time I won’t.