I find it fascinating that all of us work on projects where we are focused on what needs to be done. When we have expertise in the area the project requires, it makes our job simpler. Get done what needs to be done and move on. When we aren’t quite sure what to do, figuring things out blinds us to other possibilities.
Possibilities? Yep, they are the ones that get exposed by two simple questions. Who will use the project we complete? What will someone do with the project we complete? Focusing on what needs to be done never interrupts us to ask these questions.
There is a user experience component to the project we complete that is often ignored. Can someone make sense of what you did? Is it easy for them to follow the steps, if that is what your project requires? Can someone, other than you, easily find the information that is needed to keep your project working? Who will use your project when it is complete demands that we think deeply about these questions.
We assume our project will have value. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be working on it. But who determines its value? Did we think about why someone needed this project completed? How will they use the output of your project? What decisions will they make based on what your project does?
Both these questions are important. An example of this is I know of someone who is trying to create accurate financial statements for an organization. Using new software, they are trying to recreate the data for this current year in the same format as was used in the past. When completed, they will have finished the project by focusing on accuracy.
When asked about different groupings of accounts, they said that the software can be coded in many ways to create special reports. Easy to do if you are the person with all of the knowledge. But who will do this when the expert hands it off? Will they have the skills to make the accounting software “bend” to the next person’s wishes? Or, would it be better to simplify the reports in a way that will automatically group things in a better, logical way? Accuracy will not help you answer this question.
Who will use the reports you generate? What decisions must they make? Are the accounts grouped in a way that will help them see when things are not going right? Do the account groupings align with what is important to focus on to make sure the organization continues to succeed? Accuracy again, can not help you answer this question.
Project work is valuable. So is your time. Thinking about who will use what you make and what they will do with the output of your project before you finish you work will help you make something better. Making you more valuable and less average the next morning when you start a new day.