This is a story about how a software development project that can develop a solid technical solution, but will miss the business context and will not deliver business value.
Lately, my country, like the rest of the World, is trying to tackle the challenges that the COVID-19 brings to humanity.
The government has decided to distribute tourist vouchers to the citizens. On a conceptual level, the goal of this decision is to help national tourism. At the same time, the initiative had to help some low-income citizens to spend their summer vacation at some of the tourist destinations in the country.
They have launched a project called “Дома си е дома” #ДомаСиЕДома (English translation: “No place like home”). The project got its website (https://domasiedoma.gov.mk/) that looks solid, but what happened?
One of the photos on the homepage that should promote Macedonia Tourism does not illustrate Macedonia’s nature. The photo was taken by Simon Migaj and the destination is a lake in Germany.
The project tries to promote Macedonian tourism, and its website uses photos from foreign countries. Strange, right?
After the photographer has found his photography on the domasiedoma.gov.mk website, he decided to post a comment on social media. After that, his comment becomes viral very quickly. This was followed by an avalanche of comments on social media from disgruntled citizens. People blamed the Macedonian government.
The government has the ultimate responsibility, but this situation shows something else.
I can recognize the lack of project/product management that’s the responsibility of the service provider.
Check some great product management books.
Who is Responsible for Non-Technical Aspects? (Delivering Business Value)
A project team responsible for developing the software solution (regardless of the project size), has to be capable of covering business, project, its functional and technical perspective.
In an ideal scenario, the team has to cover the above-mentioned perspectives by different team members. Depending on the project, sometimes, some of the perspectives need to be covered by more than one person.
For the previously described scenario, the responsible person for the project and/or functional aspect didn’t raise a “red flag” about the illustrations on the website homepage.
It seems that the developer did not care too much about the business context when he decided to use that photo. Despite the technical quality and nature of the photo, the illustration does not follow the business context of the website. But, that’s not the primary focus of a technical person.
An illustration placed of a user interface is not only an aesthetic element.(edX UX Courses). It also provides useful information to the user. The following statement confirms what has been written in the previous sentence: “A picture is worth a thousand words“.
A project team should have a responsible person who will check the quality of the implemented solution. That’s usually a quality assurance specialist. I would expect an Intermediate Tester to spot a “stock photo” that is not in a line with the message that the website should bring to the users. Imagine that the illustration must be transformed into words and then to put those words beside a project vision statement. How it will sound if you transform the photo from Simon into “Lake in Germany” and put those words along with “Helping Macedonian Tourism”. Doesn’t make sense, right?
A business analyst who is responsible to articulate the functional scope is the one who must make a connection between the business needs (business context) and the technical solution.
In the mentioned scenario, it’s obvious that the responsible business analyst missed reacting to Simon’s photo.
Project/Product Manager, the ultimate guardian for providing business value
A Project/Product Manager is a role that has to take care of the business perspective on a certain level and secure delivery of business value. In a case wherein the project manager role is merged in a way with Business Analyst, Requirements Specialist, or Product Manager role, it must take care of details such as, whether the illustration is in the context of the service offered from the website or not.
Even more, a Project Manager should prevent the project’s risks. It’s responsible for articulating the project scope. A project manager has to take care of all other members to receive everything they need so that they can do their job with a certain level of quality. In the explained scenario, it would be good if a project manager purchased high-quality photos from a local photographer who owns outstanding photos from Macedonian tourist destinations. By this approach, the project manager would:
- help a local photographer to earn some money (helping the national economy);
- respect the copyrights of the author/photographer;
- receive an original and authentic illustration for the website;
- receive the most relevant photos for the website;
The marrow of the story
The essence should always be more important than the form. A technical solution has to provide business value.