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Recovering from Customer In Absentia

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  • Larmore, Edward
    Two friends and I have been working on a pilot XP project. It is a game called Eder s Cage , a variation of Shut the Box . Our customer showed up, after a 3
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2001
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      Two friends and I have been working on a pilot XP project. It is a game
      called "Eder's Cage", a variation of "Shut the Box".

      Our customer showed up, after a 3 session absence (we just finished our 5th
      session). He then ranked user stories, emphasizing the graphics aspect of
      the
      game over implementing the rules of the game. Which is the exact opposite
      of what we've been doing in his absence. What do we do? I can think of 3
      choices:
      1. Stop our momentum on implementing the rules, and do it in the order he
      wants.
      2. Blow him off completely, and do it the way we know is right.
      3. Try to convince him to change his ranking, as graphics without rules
      doesn't really provide him any business value. (I like this one best).

      Any thoughts?

      BTW, I'd be happy to email source code and logs of our progress to anyone
      who's interested. (I'd include them here, but this group strips off
      attachments).

      -Ed Larmore
      R a t i o n a l
      the e-development company
    • azami@speakeasy.net
      Interpretation 1 - the customer is always right, and this just goes to show why you need the customer on-site. You ve spent 60% of the project pursuing the
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 2001
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        Interpretation 1 - the customer is always right, and this just goes to
        show why you need the customer on-site. You've spent 60% of the
        project pursuing the wrong requirements.

        Interpretation 2 - the customer doesn't have any concept of actual
        business value, and is only interested in bells and whistles rather
        than real functionality. Bad customer! No cookie for you! The
        customer is either a moron or a marketer.

        I think XP says that you shouldn't nay-say the customer. The customer
        is the authority on requirements, and know much more about what has
        business value than you do.

        In my experience with commercial projects (non-XP) the customer (the
        marketing department) would come up with what look like really inane
        requirements. Things like letting the user change the fonts and
        colors used in the display screens of an administrative tool being
        more important than either simplifying the use of the tool or
        increasing its monitoring capabilities. The unfortunate fact of the
        matter was that although actual users would not really benefit in any
        way from the fonts and colors feature, marketing and sales would get a
        big advantage from it. It makes for prettier screen shots and
        snazzier demos, and it gives them a way to graphically distinguish the
        new version from the old so that visitors won't skip the booth just
        because it looks like the same stuff they had last year.

        A game that works would probably be more fun to play. A game with
        great screen shots would probably sell more copies, especially if
        accompanied by a strong marketing campaign.

        I think if you want to do XP, you do the stories the customer tells
        you are most important. As far as educating the customer about
        the relative importance of graphics and funcitionality? Well, you're
        doing short iterations, right? When the customer plays with a pretty
        game that doesn't work, maybe she'll change the priorities in the next
        iteration. And if she doesn't, then it just goes to show that she was
        right and you were wrong.

        -MAD
        azami@...

        --- In extremeprogramming@y..., "Larmore, Edward" <elarmore@r...>
        wrote:
        > Two friends and I have been working on a pilot XP project. It is a
        game
        > called "Eder's Cage", a variation of "Shut the Box".
        >
        > Our customer showed up, after a 3 session absence (we just finished
        our 5th
        > session). He then ranked user stories, emphasizing the graphics
        aspect of
        > the
        > game over implementing the rules of the game. Which is the exact
        opposite
        > of what we've been doing in his absence. What do we do? I can think
        of 3
        > choices:
        > 1. Stop our momentum on implementing the rules, and do it in the
        order he
        > wants.
        > 2. Blow him off completely, and do it the way we know is right.
        > 3. Try to convince him to change his ranking, as graphics without
        rules
        > doesn't really provide him any business value. (I like this one
        best).
        >
        > Any thoughts?
        >
        > BTW, I'd be happy to email source code and logs of our progress to
        anyone
        > who's interested. (I'd include them here, but this group strips off
        > attachments).
        >
        > -Ed Larmore
        > R a t i o n a l
        > the e-development company
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