The way that you handle the revisions process with clients will determine if your customer services can be deployed in a timely fashion. Some clients will take up your time just because you show that you have it, and this is no way to do business.
Instead of dumping the customer or delivering an unfinished product that can be later used against you, cultivating a good revision development system creates an understanding between parties that serves both sides well. Here are some of the most important characteristics to look for in a revision development system.
Flexibility for Change Throughout the Product Life Cycle
For the most part, the earlier that you can make changes in a software product, the less time those changes will take to implement and test. Changes in earlier iterations affect fewer aspects of the overall project, giving you less bugs and technical debt to deal with down the line. Being able to revise the project early on also minimizes your deployment risk.
Your revision development system should create avenues for you to identify potential problems early on, deliver that feedback to the appropriate parties and facilitate administration changes between parties. In this way, your revision development system will be part beta tester, part CRM and part scheduler.
Identifying Project Milestones
If milestones are properly marked within a project, a client will usually adhere to a stricter standard in terms of revisions. In short, do not present the project timeline to the client as a single, unified whole. Your revision development system should break the project down into milestones, or subprojects, that your client must sign off on in order to continue forward.
Identifying Bottlenecks and Mission Critical Points
Part of identifying milestones through a revision development system is to help a company identify bottlenecks and mission-critical points within a project. In order to keep a project on schedule, client should be informed that revisions should focus on the changes that are needed to ensure the functionality of the project. By identifying mission-critical points, you stay away from revisions that are based off of client opinions and assumptions, which tend to be driven by an uninformed technical perspective.
If there are revisions that are mostly cosmetic, these can usually be made at the end of a project. However, your revision systems should also identify where cosmetic fixes might overlap with functional code and bring up more problems than the fix is worth.
Setting Revision Policy After User Feedback
There are some revisions that simply cannot be made until the project has been deployed and taken into consideration by the end-user. As a matter of fact, your users will teach you a great deal about how to upgrade your revision development system moving forward. Your system should make it clear which elements of your program rely upon user feedback, reducing the amount of open space that your client has to make revisions based on dubious assumptions.
Marketing User Upgrades
User feedback is true data that you can use to make improvements in your product. After rollout, your revision development system should also be able to incorporate an element of marketing into the revision process. If you come across a blog or upgrade that is truly warranted after deployment, your systems should account for the fact that many users enjoy following iterations and may welcome a revision in the form of a new build. In this way, so-called mistakes can be marketed as upgrades, helping everyone to save face while providing the same level of service. This strategy also helps to extend the timeline of a project into a more tenable space.
Creating a revision development system once helps a company's project lifecycle for years after. Make sure that you present your clients with a strategic approach to your revisions. They will appreciate the professionalism, and you will save your company a great deal of time on the phone and behind your consoles that should be put elsewhere.