People Goal 1 - Part 1: Visualize your solution

Document created by Kedar on Jan 26, 2015Last modified by communitymanager on May 12, 2015
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When you start the development process, it’s important to visualize what you intend to do, communicate that vision to the project stakeholders, and allow their feedback to affect your design. This helps you to clarify what you are developing, who will use it, and what they need, resulting in a more effective and successful solution.


Here are some of the steps commonly taken by developers as they start a project. It’s up to you to decide how much time to give each one:


  • Identify the problem

  • Propose a solution

  • Get some feedback

  • Answer who, what, when, and where

  • Determine what you could do

  • Decide what to do and what not to do



As you think through these steps, keep the example scenario in mind:  

A sales team is struggling to manage followup communication with their sales contacts.




Identify the problem


What problems in your business could a FileMaker solution help to solve? Choose one that’s relatively simple, or if you have a complex problem, choose just one aspect of it for now. First answer these questions:


  • Who is the person or group of people involved?


  • What is the action they are performing?


  • What is the problem associated with that action?


Then assemble your answers into a sentence — here’s an example from the scenario:


When salespeople follow up on their contacts, they forget some calls and take scattered notes.


Propose a solution

The next step is to propose a solution for your project. Start by asking these questions:


  • What kind of solution do you propose?

  • Who will use the solution?

  • What will the solution do?

  • What is the most important benefit that your solution will provide? (Think about the big picture: if you had to sell this project to someone, what would you tell them? Often this involves saving time and money.)


Then propose a solution based on your answers, following the format of this example proposal:


Design a hosted contact management solution

For the sales team

To centralize sales contact followup communication

So followup is consistent and can be measured.


We’ll call this your vision statement. You’ll refer to this throughout the development process to stay on track.


Get some feedback


Now that you have a vision statement, it’s time to get some feedback from other people. This is a key part of the development process. You can only meet people’s needs if you know what they are.


Here’s what to do:


  • Make a list of everyone who has an interest in the project, such as people who will use the solution directly; decision makers who control the budget, resources, and schedule; and executives whose goals will be impacted by the solution.


  • Decide who are the key players.


  • Meet with these people and find out what they need. Don’t assume that you know already; really listen to them. (For the purposes of this training, talk to at least one person.)


It’s a common mistake to focus on the people who benefit the most from the solution while overlooking key people who will use it. For example, if you are developing a grant tracking system for a university, your solution probably won’t be used primarily by the research professors (who benefit the most), but more likely by staff who administer the grants for them.



Answer who, what, when, and where


Based on this feedback, answer the following questions in more detail — keeping your vision statement clearly in mind.  We’ve provided answers from the scenario as examples:


Who will use the solution most often?

The sales team and the sales manager.


What will they use it for?

Salespeople will rely on it for scheduling and completing followup communication via phone and email.

The sales team manager will use it to monitor her team’s success with followup communication, in terms of volume and timeliness.


What is it replacing?

An ad-hoc process unique to each salesperson involving email, written notes, and other resources.


When and where will the solution be used?

Inside sales reps and the sales team manager will use it in the office.

Outside salespeople will use it almost anywhere.


Which platforms and devices will be involved?

Platforms are Mac OSX Yosemite only.  Devices are desktops, laptops, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6+.


When do you need to deliver it?

We have six months until the end of the fiscal year. The CEO wants this project in place, including testing and training, before then.



Determine what you could do


Next, write a series of sentences to document specific tasks that different groups of people will perform in your solution. These are called user stories. We’ve provided some examples from the scenario — try to follow the same format:


  • As a salesperson, I want to schedule followup communication easily, especially when I leave a voicemail.


  • As a salesperson, I want to see a history of my communication with a given contact.

  • As a salesperson, I want to see all my followup communication for today (or any other day).


  • As an outside salesperson, I want a mobile version of this application.


  • As the sales manager, I want to generate a report summarizing the activity for each salesperson, broken down by status.



Decide what to do and what not to do

Finally, decide what you’re prepared to work on now and what you aren’t. Everything in your list is going to be important to somebody, but given time constraints and your experience level, you’ll need to pick and choose.

In the case of the example solution, we decided that two of the features above introduced too much complexity into the training, so we left them out:

  • As a salesperson, I want to see all my followup communication for today (or any other day).


  • As an outside salesperson, I want a mobile version of this application.

However, they are both included in the advanced version of the example solution, so you can reverse engineer them if you choose.

You’re ready to go!