When I started working many many moons ago, computers were still just becoming part of the workplace landscape. I "grew up" professionally in the world of the SDLC (software developers life cycle) and spent far too much time writing requirements, managing "users" and "developers" and running endless test scripts and user acceptance testing. Point being, I spent a lot of time with building software - usually the amount of time spent managing expectations and instances of miscommunication was far greater than any number of hours spent writing the actual code.
Part of my trip this week is to facilitate the launch of a major web based system that has been in development for years. There were two people who ran point on this initiative, Chris and Jon. As we get ready to launch and go through the last huge crunch of testing and bug management (which is always 90% of the work) I have constantly had the opportunity to talk with Chris and Jon and reflect on how amazing this development cycle has been. I honestly have never been involved in all my years with a development project that was so intimately focused on truly communicating with the end users. These two men have had their fingers on the pulse of their user community - countless hours were spent reviewing prototypes, testing beta releases and, here's the most important thing - REALLY REALLY listening to the feedback they got. Most everything that has been submitted as requested functionality has been delivered, in the way the users wanted it. The team was even able to deliver additional modules that were not part of the original scope of work.
I have always believed and fought for the principle that software, when used correctly, enables people to be better at their work - its still ultimately always about the people. I've preached this for years and never before have I seen it truly in practice - so, to Jon and Chris, I know your hard work will pay off. You have built a tool that will significantly impact the work lives of thousands of people. I salute you, your commitment to quality, your commitment to communication and most importantly, your commitment on not pleasing someone who made deadlines or just signed your paycheck, but on pleasing your USERS.