One of the greatest challenges that exists for companies today is internal communication. An example of this is the recurring expressions you hear from the workers who are making the requests, such as: “Computers do what they want”, “I asked for A and they gave me B”, “they never solve the problem I have.”
Meanwhile computer programs also have common responses to requests such as: “We do not understand what you are asking,” “Without all of the required information, I cannot help you.” These problems may even cause tension or discord among coworkers.
This undoubtedly represents a major challenge, especially when running against time and / or with limited resources. Fortunately, there´s advice and some tips that can help you address the issue, regardless of which side you´re on. Whether requesting or delivering, you can always improve your processes.
First we must have the following in mind: every professional is an expert in their area, that is, he knows which requests may be not understood clearly by who receives the request, so it should be as clear as possible to express a request, and not assume that the person understands or is aware of what is needed. In this specific case, I´m referring to requests for new information rather than reporting problems to the HelpDesk.
For example, suppose that the accounting department needs to create a report showing profits and losses of the year. Will the developer know exactly how to illustrate this balance providing all the information required if he does not specialize in accounting?
For the above case, there are tools that can help, for example, the use of the document “Functional Specification”. In order for this tool to be very useful, and to serve its purpose without worsening the problem, it must fulfill its promises: or more specifically, give every detail of what the current process implies and the desired result. Although this might sound somewhat obvious, it is the first problem detected when the aforementioned phrases are heard. For this problem, one should use a pre-set format containing all the necessary information in an organized way to ensure clear understanding of the user´s needs.
How to improve?
First, and perhaps most important of all, is not to consider the specification document a “waste of time” or “unnecessary”. This tool can be considered the backbone of the solution to problems, and their proper use can make the difference between a good solution and one that does not solve the problem. This point applies to both the writer of the document as well as the reader.
If necessary meetings should be conducted with the support of consulting staff, to ensure that what was written in this document was understood correctly and that there are no doubts.
The more complete and detailed the document, the fewer iterations will be made to achieve the ultimate solution. This means less time and resources, and results in increased efficiency in the areas involved in the process.