Written by Frank Schroeder
Why is it important for software and application vendors to get continuous user feedback? How can user feedback improve the application development and make them evolve into better applications?
Overall, the IT and communication market is growing continuously. Especially, the field of enterprise software development has still strong growth rates according to a Gartner research from January 2019
We will see a substantial growth in software and application development in the next upcoming years.
Beside the growth in the market for software and application development, there have been dramatic changes in the past 20 years concerning how we develop software applications. To name only some significant ones:
- Open source options
- Libraries and frameworks
- From waterfall to Agile
- Client Server to Web and Mobile
- Application Programming Interfaces (API´s)
What does this mean for software developers and the development organization?
Speed, software developers have to speed-up and provide applications and software features in weeks or months, not in years as it used to be, as the market is changing and demand for new applications and updates is more disruptive.
Agility, to achieve the speed and the required quality, developers and development teams need to move to agile methodologies with sprints of two- three weeks instead of 12-18 month waterfall projects.
This will lead to a collaborative, product management/product owner-driven organization for software and application development. As this will allow for a continuous product development and improvement, based on collaborative processes.
Collaboration and communication with the user and customer even need to start before the development begins to insure that the scope and the specifications of the development are spot-on.
Why is customer and user Feedback important?
- It makes you gather the right scope and requirements
- Improves products and services
- Measure customer satisfaction
- Create a better User experience (UX)
- Improve customer retention
- Helps taking business decisions
State-of-the art development teams need to have clear ways to integrate customer feedback into the development and the lifecycle of an application.
They should be able to gather and access customer information, to listen attentively and collaborate with them and their teams, and they need to communicate with customers continuously.
What do major Software vendors recommend on user feedback?
Microsoft, Brian Harry, Blog:
Brian Harry mentioned, on his blog, how important Feedback loops are, especially in an agile development environment. Often, feedback is needed to drive a product or release. In his case, feedback influences or even drives:
- Software Workability
Feedback on these are important and critical components of success.
Atlassian, Laura Daly, Blog:
Laura states in her blog that “Collecting and responding to user feedback is what makes agile software development lean”
For her, it is imperative to consistently and constantly listen to users and customers during an application lifecycle. She recommends we collect and process user feedback in every stage of the development, and start already pretty early in the lifecycle, having it in the
Alpha, Beta and Testing phases.
Laura concludes that “the best ways to make sure that your’re able to move fast and deliver quality is through layering in user feedback through every stage of software development.”
Mendix, Danielle Goodman, Blog
Similarly to Laura and Brian, Danielle stated the “Waiting until the end of the sprint for feedback is too long. You want as short feedback loop as possible, so you can adapt your process quickly.”
Following helps to facilitate short feedback loop:
- Shared project portal to share user stories and communication
- Instant app sharing
- Embedded user feedback widgets
All three recommend early and short feedback loops during application development and the software lifecycle to insure speed and quality of the development department.
It is important to involve users and customers from the beginning of a software/application development project. Starting already at requirements gathering, validation and verification, collecting feedback can happen via Survey technology, for instance. During the lifecycle, continuous collaboration, including options to gather user feedback, can be a key driver for successful applications in time, quality and UX-wise.
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