Balancing the Needs of Stakeholders in Software Development

The classic tension between specialization (sales) and generalization (product) occurs often in software development. Some ways to resolve this:

  1. Education – Have Sales and Product teams explain their perspectives to each other to build understanding. They may come to a compromise.
  2. Start with specialization but build in extensibility – Build a solution tailored for Sales’ primary needs but design it in a way that allows for future expansion into other areas. This gives Sales what they want upfront while still aiming for more general purpose solution.
  3. Build two versions – Create a simplified version optimized for Sales as well as a more flexible, open version for advanced use cases. Product can then help customers migrate to the flexible version when their needs change.
  4. Prioritize based on revenue/impact – Look at how much of the customer base will benefit from either approach and prioritize building the solution that has the biggest revenue impact first before tackling the other use cases.

In the end, neither side will get exactly what they want, but by working together they can find the solution that balances their needs and benefits the company with the highest impact. Compromise and understanding different perspectives are key.

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