Lean Startup methodology and Agile development preach customer driven development and all it’s benefits.
I think real world examples are always a good testament to why they are right. The story below emphasizes not only the importance of reaching out to users, but more specifically THE users that will be you know, using what would be built.
Last week, I got a frantic email requesting a new feature in my product to help an additional team. I got more details about what they were asking for and arranged a call to discuss it.
The other team wanted to know if we could create a popup for their customers to accept a Master Service Agreement.
I asked them why they needed it?
They PM on the team said that their current paper document was taking forever to get through the customers’ legal/procurement processes and that a click-through popup would solve the issue.
I asked if the customers would be allowed to accept a legal document online or if the legal/procurement teams would still need to review it. The PM didn’t know but said he would reach out to find out.
Later that day the PM emailed a group of sales/account managers who work directly with customers to find out if an online legal doc would be sufficient. They quickly replied that the non-paper option would actually cause more problems and not be helpful at all.
Development time saved. Lesson learned. #goaskTHEuser