On one end of the figurative schoolyard of the development space, there is the business team, the cool, rich kids playing kickball - the ones that always get use of the field; the ones that have all the money, the ones that call the shots in and out of the classroom. On the other end is the development team - the nerdy kids who are ultimately getting the cool kids’ homework done for a few bucks with the lingering threat of being out-casted and left for a different nerd.
Unfortunately, this is a common scene not just for schoolyards and large companies. The business team has all the money, has the opportunity to explore new ideas, and reaches out to the technology team only when they need work done. There is not enough collaboration effort between the two sides, often leading to extra spend, redesign or a lack of drive on the technology side.
Below are some possible benefits of including your technical team in the original planning discussions. When you really think about it, there’s no reason not to involve them in the entire process.
Oftentimes, a budget is set aside and initial resource planning is done without really having an idea of what the project will cost to develop. It’s fine to set an upper-limit or estimated budget before you begin analyzing a project, but without communicating with the developers during the planning stages, the actual amount could vastly vary.
The creatives will go crazy trying to impress the business team. A significant amount of time and money will probably be spent creating designs, building a prototype, and (if the company is smart), getting user feedback. By the time the project trickles down to the developers, however, and you learn how much it will actually cost to build, you’ve already invested so much and are in love with the idea, so you spend the extra money to get it done. This could occur for a variety of reasons, including additional spend needed to overcome technical hurdles.
Imagine you are custom designing a new home. You get it absolutely perfect, down to the color of the cabinets and the fountain in the front. When you take the plans to the contractor, however, he tells you it can’t be done how you planned it – maybe the ground can’t support such a structure or the building needs more supporting walls, which would lessen the space you had laid out. Whatever the reason, you’re forced to redesign your home. No matter what you do, you will never be as satisfied with the redesign as you were with the initial plan. Not only did you waste time, but you also end up being disappointed with the result.
This analogy transfers directly over to the technology world. Oftentimes, features proposed by the business or creative agency are not yet possible using current technology or at least will not function properly on the company’s current infrastructure.
This hurdle would be addressed immediately by having the developers involved in the planning stage. They would not only shoot down the idea right away (and hopefully explain why), but should also be able to offer an alternative solution that is feasible.
Since the developers may not feel like a part of the core team, they may be less likely to be innovative. They could be out-cast, seen as just workers doing the business’s bidding. By including your technology team in the initial planning stages, they will feel more involved and less like work mules, wanting to contribute ideas since they now have a larger stake in the project, not to mention saving you from the previously mentioned mistakes.
One thing I’ve witnessed all developers seem to have in common is their desire to create new things. When it comes down to it, a developer is more incentivized by the prospect of doing something no one has done before. Giving your technologies team the opportunity to give their input into a project in its’ early stages will often catalyze their creative spirits. By not including them, you could be missing out on things you never knew were possible!