Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Voice of the Customer!

It's amazing that you can still learn even when you know everything. I've been back at school for about 2 years (or so) now (PM Certificate and Masters) and every so often, if you listen very very hard, you'll pick up new knowledge.

Voice of the Customer! (VOC) - something that most PM's and IT, in general, get chills about. VOC is basically a process of 'listening' to the customer, capturing their requests in their language/terminology, aligning it to what in the project will provide/fulfill the request.

You basically create a grid (MS Excel) with the columns:
  • Customer (who the person is and/or group)
  • Request (the voice)
  • Priority (High, Med, Low)
  • Project (what project the functionality, etc. will be provided as part of - if there are more then one project)
  • Functionality/How-To - what functionality and/or how will the request be satisfied
  • Rating - High, Med, Low - how well did the delivery meet the 'voice'
It may not sound like much, but it puts you in the right mindset to deliver what is being requested as opposed to what you think is being requested. It's also a great way to confirm what the customer is asking for (feedback).

A nice addition to this is adding the 'voice' or management, sponsors, etc., this would provide a complete picture of what is being requested and constraints. Something like:
VP - Sam Sneed - "We need to track who is really using this thingy...." - Report X will do that.

You expand the definition of customer to ANYONE associated with the project. In my opinion, a great PM tool/process.

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