My role as developer with Bluewire is primarily focused on implementation and deployment with the intention to become increasingly client focused as I gain more experience with our product – Epro. This vision is largely derived from my experience as an adult education tutor and actor, which I believe was a contributing factor to my initial employment in June of 2011.
So when I was asked to attend the HC2012 conference as the Epro Product Specialist on the Winscribe [our commercial partners’] stand, this was for me, quite a large step towards realising this objective. The experience was interesting for several reasons:
This was the first time I was to put on a client facing hat and integrate with potential customers and/or others in the industry who have/might have problems which Epro could solve, as well as see what else is going on in the healthcare IT space.
The main things I observed and took from the experience were:
- It was my perception that the people I interacted with and demonstrated to, on our stand assumed my background was some PR/marketing role, as I believe I experienced some surprise from them when (on the couple of occasions where I was asked) my actual role of developer was revealed
- WinScribe operate on a solutions, not products based, philosophy so pitches tend to begin with questions as opposed to regurgitating lists of shiny features. Using this technique, I found I could gauge fairly quickly when people were genuinely interested in our product, were ‘just browsing’, or most interestingly really didn’t know what they were looking for
- The experience helped me to consolidate the importance of being in touch with your users and their requirements, as exemplified by Whitney Hess in her blog post – The User Is Not Like Me
- I really enjoy working as part of a team in a public environment, being able to tap the skills of your colleagues in tricky situations and being able to support them when required, leads to a satisfied, interdependent team at the end of a day
So is it a good thing for developers or other technical staff to take off their techie hats and challenge themselves in these sorts of public environments? Of course this depends on their specific roles and the company direction. Considering my role, the experience was very useful and I feel that generally speaking, it’s good to change your hat every once in a while. Any exposure to their client a developer experiences should, in theory, enable them to be more in touch with their client’s requirements and thus produce better software.