#86: Using Video for Rapid Feedback - an episode 83 follow up

In episode 83, I had a long chat with Trevor Ewen about how he provides software service to non-technical clients.

If you've not listened to it, it was an excellent interview full of wonderful insights.

So much so that I want to pull a number of topics from that podcast and look at them in more depth.

In this episode, I want to look at using Video for Rapid Feedback

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Published: Thu, 27 May 2021 07:35:54 GMT


Hello and welcome back to The Better ROI from Software Development podcast.

In episode 83, I had a long chat with Trevor Ewen about how he provides software services to non-technical clients. If you've not listened to it, it was an excellent interview, full of wonderful insights. So much so that I wanted to pull out a number of topics from that podcast and look at them in more depth.

In this episode, I wanted to look at video updates as a means of rapid feedback.

In the episode, Trevor talked about using video to provide updates on the work he was doing, provide product demos and basically anything that you wanted to convey across to his clients.

He was exceptionally passionate about using video and thought it was a really good form of being able to provide those updates.

Trevor confesses to using video heavily, and he's quite passionate about using video as a means of communication.

And it's obviously working very well for him and his clients. He's even experienced the benefit of his customers sending him their own videos - videos of them showing defects in software, videos in providing feature views of changes that have been made by his team. And he was finding that exceptionally valuable in helping communication between the two parties.

So the value of video.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is video worth?

A report from Forrester claimed that. "1 minute of video is worth 1.8 Million words".

I'm not entirely sure how they've calculated, but I could understand their sentiment.

If you look at video, over email or even just a telephone call, you're getting clearer intent, you're getting clearer meaning, you're getting better understanding between two parties.

I'd like to say at this point, when it comes to communication, my personal favourite will always be face to face communication.

I believe that face to face communication is the best way for two parties to work closer together. It helps them to build trust, relationships and ultimately better outcomes.

Ideally, if you're building software, you want to have the entire team co-located in one place. Ideally, you want the team working together so they don't have to make calls, emails or have online meetings. Ideally, you want them to be able to talk to each other without penalty.

That way, the team are in a position where they can make decisions rapidly and clearly, they understand so much better by being in close proximity and working with each other and seeing each other to understand what's trying to be communicated.

Just to illustrate, when this is an internal product, I expect the entire team from the developers, the testers, the product owner - the person that understands what is being built and why - all sit together in the same space in a team space. A space that provides them the ability to work together, workshop through problems, discuss issues, work out the best way of building and developing that product and how to enhance it going forward.

This, for me, reduces all those barriers to conversations.

All those things that make it harder, firstly to understand what's being suggested to getting feedback. Less barriers you have, the less dependencies you have outside of that team, the better and faster you will produce that software.

And I've said this time and time again, the team should not have to go outside itself for anything. It shouldn't have to go outside itself for deciding what the work is, how they're building it, or approvals for releasing and getting it into production. The more that the team can control locally - and have the authority and the responsibility for - the better that software will be and the quicker to market it can become.

This obviously becomes a bit more difficult in Trevor's domain where he's working for third parties.

Now, I've certainly seen large software houses turn up and drop software developers and embed them into an organisation - that can work again. Again, that always fails if that's a short term endeavour - so always feel as if it's a short term engagement.

More often however, as in Trevor's case, the software developers will actually be remote from the actual business they're doing the work for. Thus video is a really good way of trying to get some of those communications across.

OK, I'd argue it's probably not as good as face to face, but if they're not sat with each other, not co-located with each other, video is probably the next best option.

Certainly if I'm working with a client, even if they're only half a mile away, if we need to see something together, I'd much prefer them to do me a video and send it over rather than us having to try and book in time for when we can meet together, sit down, discuss it, go through it.

Getting that video across in the initial instance - to look at, understand it and see if we can resolve it for that - its crystal, because it gets that meaning across quickly.

OK, we may then need to go to a face to face, but at least at that point, we've got a shared understanding of what we're going to talk about.

In the interview, Trevor also pointed out the benefits of it handling much further distances. He talked about time zone differences where he's dealing with clients in Australia.

And as the global economy grows, more and more of us will be working with teams and people that aren't in the same time zone, that aren't half an hour down the road, certainly aren't in the same building.

And given the Covid-19 pandemic, one has to wonder if there will actually be less travel going forward, less international travel between those sites.

We still want to be able to have that global economy, but will we still be moving around as much?

So video provides a great mechanism for that. It provides a great way of being able to pass that communication backwards and forwards.

In this episode, I've talked about using video updates for rapid feedback.

Taking a video of a software defect or change you want to make to a piece of software can be exceptionally quick.

We're talking minutes.

Being able to get that across to somebody so they can see what you're seeing is golden for a shared understanding, helping you build better trust, better relationships and ultimately better outcomes.

The ability for video to help us with time zone differences when you can't talk to somebody face to face, even if you're video calling them because of the time zone differences, being able to interact freely in a good way, of being able to provide quick feedback to somebody so they can review and come back to you.

So think about it for the next time you see a problem in your internal software, rather than just writing an email or calling a meeting, video it. Take a video, share it with the team.

It should help build that understanding quicker, build that trust, that relationship, and ultimately, as I say, better outcomes.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode. I look forward to speaking to you again next week.