How much does the client know about technology?

How much does the client know about technology?

September 24, 2012 7:01 pm

tl;dr
It is your responsibility to find out

We all know those help desk horror stories about the computer illiterate clients who don’t know anything what the tech guy is trying to say to them.

But there is even a greater problem providers and clients are facing nowadays. The pace of everyday life is so fast that average person can’t follow all the changes anymore even if he would like to. But we all know not everybody is for everything, so the average person knows even less than he could have, because well, he just isn’t interested in some fields.

Let’s say we stay on the subject of IT. It’s a nice subject where we all know there are huge differences between a savvy person and a layman. We don’t know the reasons why the layman is a layman and in this post it doesn’t matter. We accept his (non-)knowledge.

And now the important questions:

  • Do you know the clients knowledge on a given field?
  • Do you appreciate the situation in which you are professionally dealing with a layman?

Let me give you an example:

Mary and Jane are cooperating together on a website. Mary is the web developer and Jane is the manager of the project. They are brainstorming about a page that will contain a set of data in a table. Mary asks Jane if she would like a normal table or an interactive one. Jane of course chooses the second one, it sounds better. Because Mary is really busy doing her job, she continuously postpones the work on the interactive table that would require a day’s work in a really tight schedule. And when Jane finds out after some time, the website lacks the very important data chart, she immediately confronts Mary. Only at that time Mary finds out Jane doesn’t know how complex the making of this table is as opposed to the “normal” table and if she knew that, she would’ve asked for a normal table in the beginning.

No matter what whoever says, it will always be your fault. As a savvy person it is your job to find out how much does the non-savvy person know.

It could be very difficult to find out how much somebody knows and how deep you have to go with the explanations at the beginning of your career. But believe me, for project’s sake, it is much cheaper to invest a few more hours communicating with your client, than to steer the development in the middle of the project when the client sees you two weren’t on the same page and understood the problem differently.

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