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Visualization is more than just designing screens

By February 22, 2011No Comments

Visualization is sometimes used in the context of visualizing screen design only. In my opinion, it’s much more than that. Visualization is a concept, process, and a way of thinking about requirements. Not only can you visualize interfaces, you can also visualize business process flows, navigation, user flows, content structure, data flows, and more.

The idea behind visualization takes place more on the process side of the software development lifecycle. It’s the setting, people, skill sets, and structure around how you elicit your requirements. There are four key components that need to be in place to make it work well.

  • It must be highly collaborative. Collaboration is critical throughout the project lifecycle. Working in a silo doesn’t foster the communication needed to be effective using visualization. It’s all about defining, designing, and building together as a group that drives solid performance. It’s critical to have a strong facilitator to lead sessions and to steer the group toward consensus.
  • You must have the right talent. What I’ve seen work is the proper combination of software and hard skills. You have to have team members with good to great communication skills. A lot of the requirements are fleshed out through healthy dialog and debates. It’s important to have consultants that challenge ideas and make them stronger. What you don’t want are note takers that simply write down everything you want without bringing in their own ideas. It needs to function more like a partnership as opposed to a client to consultant relationship.
  • If possible, you must have the right stakeholders. It’s important to have stakeholders and leaders that are emotionally and professionally committed to solving the problem. They need to be engaged in the project and make decisions quickly. If you don’t have this on your project, the chances of failing go way up. I would make this clear from the beginning if possible and try to get buy-in and commitment from the stakeholders early in the lifecycle.
  • You must have the right technology. There’s a lot of technology coming on the market that help facilitate visualization. It’s critical that you find technology that supports your process and people. Don’t let the technology dictate your approach. You need to find the right fit. Cost, training, adoption, and organization change factors usually dictate the outcome.

About the author: Jason Moccia is the President, COO, and Co-founder of OneSpring. Jason has over 14 years of experience in the software development field. In addition to operating as President and COO, he also runs the company’s Federal side of the business. His philosophy of doing one thing better than any other company emanates throughout OneSpring’s core strategy. Jason has worked with numerous Fortune 1000 companies including but not limited to Ernst & Young, General Electric, SAIC, Florida Power & Light, InterContinental Hotels, Deloitte, and SunTrust.

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