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Why Do We Ask So Many Questions Before and During the Development Process?

Question - the most powerful tool in communication. It all starts with a question! So why do we ask so many questions before we start the development process? Why are there so many ‘whys’? 

With this article I will try to not only explain but also walk you through the development process starting from the very first question you may have.

Step 1. Get in touch with us and ask the first question. 

Jan, whom you can find on the Contact us page is actually a real Account Executive at Monterail and he is here to answer any questions you may have at the very beginning like:

Get in touch with us and ask the first question


Those are only a few question examples Jan can help you with. During the first stage of your project development we will advise on any tech and non-tech questions you may have to help you make the best decision. Our team will also ask many questions to understand the idea behind your product, get to know the market you are targeting and help you choose the right business strategy to follow. After the first questions are answered the Business Analysts Team will get in touch with you to further develop the requirements and define the project scope. If you want to get to know tips from our Business Analyst Tetiana feel free to read article on 18 Tips on Running a Successful Software Development Project.

The first meeting I have with a potential Client, is a discovery call. During that meeting most of the talking is done by the Client and their team. The goal of this meeting is to find out as much as possible about the Client, their needs, their business model, the app they want to build, when they want to build it and other requirements they might have for choosing a tech partner. Having that information I am able to assess if we are capable of taking this particular project on and also to present the client with relevant (similar) projects we’ve done in the past that showcase our expertise. Typically after this first meeting the Client has a clear understanding of if and how we could potentially help them and decides whether to go forward in the process e.g. by requesting an estimate.

Jan Solecki Account Executive
at Monterail

Step 2. Discuss the idea with Business Analysts, workshop it and receive an estimate from us.

Moving forward, our Business Analysis Team will contact you to develop the idea and ask many spot-on questions about the product you would like to create. 

At this stage we often ask domain-specific questions to understand the business context and get to know potential customers we will create the solution for. It all plays a significant role in the success of the final application. Understanding business constraints and final user requirements helps us choose the best technology and plan the development process accordingly.

Very often this stage is aligned with Discovery Workshops organized with the Product Design Team. Workshopping your idea not only helps us understand the scope of the product but also prepare materials like wireframes and user stories for the development team.  

This phase often focuses on questions about cost, budget, estimation asked by our clients like:

Discuss the idea with Business Analysts, workshop it and receive an estimate from us


This stage is also connected to the list of different questions you will be asked by the Business Analyst to identify the scope and prepare the first product backlog. 

As a result of the Business Analysis phase you will receive scope and estimated cost presentation from us. You can find more information on how do we estimate the software in our blog article Software Estimation: Determining Cost and Time of Your Product

 

We constantly challenge our Clients with questions during the whole software development cycle. What, why, where and who are the most important questions we ask our Clients before the project starts. Through these questions we are able to identify target users, understand their behaviours and, hence, suggest a design strategy that would meet their needs and expectations and provide a desired user experience. We ask questions also to get to the bottom of business and functional requirements, to discover what needs the future application is aiming to address and what would be its competitive advantage on the market. But most importantly, we ask questions because we want to build strong, long-term partnership with our Clients and help them to achieve their business goals and objectives.

Roksana Bolek Business Analyst
at Monterail

Step 3. Kick-off the project with our development team!

… and do not be surprised to receive even more questions during the Kick-off meeting when you officially get to know the team who will be working on your project! This is also a great opportunity for you to ask us more questions. The main goal of having a Kick-off meeting is to get to know each other but also to establish communication methods and ensure team alignment from day 1. 

Questions asked at the Kickoff meeting vary from meeting to meeting. But one thing is certain - there are no stupid questions :)

 

Asking questions not only helps us uncover the challenges we are facing with the product, but also allows our clients to see whether we are moving in the right direction and focus on the important issues

Tetiana Glenc Business Analyst
at Monterail

Step 4. Application development and collaboration with the development team.

At this stage you will often be asked questions by the development team. Developers really get into details to understand the problems and suggest best solutions. At the very start of the development process we will work with you to set the Definition of Ready and Definition of Done. Next step is to create a Project Card, usually done by Project Manager along with the team. The Project Card is a document that contains all the most important information about the application, project, stakeholders and goals to be achieved during development. 

Having the right documentation at the very project start as well as well defined communication tools helps to stay on top of requirements and achieve milestones. There are also many different aspects discussed at this level, you can find more tips on Running a successful Software Development Project on our blog!

When the project is successfully kicked off, sometimes there is a risk of falling into a trap of a feeling that we got all the answers needed to create a desired product. As the product development is a dynamic process, regular development meetings help us to constantly question chosen solutions and respond better to our clients’ needs.

Julia Szablewska Project Manager
at Monterail

Usually this phase is very intense and is based on many different weekly and bi-weekly meetings like: 

1. Sprint Planning Meeting

During this meeting we ask questions like:

  • What are priorities to be worked on in the upcoming sprint?
  • What capacity and velocity do we have?
  • Is the Sprint Plan in line with the roadmap and priorities? 

2. Daily Standups

When we mostly focus on questions to the development team:

  • What has been done since the last daily meeting?
  • Are there any blockers?
  • What will be your next focus as per tasks planned for this sprint?

3. Sprint Review Meeting

When the team focuses on presenting increments and validates if it meets customers needs. So don’t be surprised when we ask you for your feedback! 

4. Backlog Refinement Meeting 

It helps us to keep the backlog up to date and tasks well defined in line with clients requirements. If you happen to participate in this meeting questions you might be asked are: 

  • Is this requirement still valid? 
  • Why do we want to prioritise task A over task B? 
  • How would you imagine this feature to be working?

5. Sprint Retrospective

  • When we mostly focus on:
  • What went well during the last sprint ?
  • What needs improvement?
  • What went wrong and what to do to ensure it does not repeat in the future?

6. Weekly sync with your Project Manager

Those are not standard Scrum Meetings but we organize them to keep clients in loop and make sure that we have control over the most dynamic priorities changes.
Typical questions that might be asked during such meetings are:

  • How is the current sprint going? Are there any blockers?
  • Is Backlog up to date? 
  • What are priorities for upcoming weeks? Did priorities change?
  • What is your feedback? Is there anything you would like to improve or change?

It may seem much but it all allows us to keep the project running smoothly, key stakeholders to be in the loop and ensure us that we are going in a good direction. 

While regular development meetings focus on technical aspects and implementation, separate sync with a project manager is a great place to focus on high-level business goals, long-term planning and feedback on our cooperation. It’s sometimes easy to forget about “bigger picture” diving into project implementation so a dedicated slot does its job!

Anna Wójcik Project Manager
at Monterail

Step 5. Product release and maintenance phase. 

What questions may this phase bring? Here are some examples: 

  • What is the SLA of the maintenance service? 
  • Will there be a dedicated team booked for the maintenance? 
  • How do we make sure that critical issues are solved with the highest priority? 
  • Can I negotiate the maintenance agreement?

For us as your partner the maintenance phase is as important as standard development, we do our best to provide top level support so that you can focus on marketing your business and onboarding new partners to your platforms.

Summary 

Do not be afraid to ask questions, even if there are more questions than answers in your head. We might not always have the answers straight away but we believe anything can be answered with the right approach and research. Every step, from a very first thought about app development till the very last release and maintenance actions brings up important questions. By asking the right ones, we help our partners to find the answers and grow. On the other hand we not only love to use questions to discover the ideas and requirements but also to inspect if our work meets expectations and delivers values.

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