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A shared understanding

In software, building the thing right is easy… identifying the right thing to build isn’t!

“A shared understanding”, by Erik Poels

After nine months of traveling through space and years of preparation, the Mars Climate Orbiter arrived in the Mars atmosphere on September 23, 1999. Excitement about the arrival soon made way for disbelief because the Orbiter violently bounced off the upper atmosphere of the red planet. For now, it is presumed destroyed or lost in space.

Where did the mission go wrong?

It is mostly a lack of shared understanding. The Investigation Board released a report, stating that a difference in measuring units (United States customary vs. Metric) used by the trajectory calculation software was to blame. The correction made by the thrusters was incorrect due to using the wrong measuring unit and that put the orbiter off course, even before it arrived at Mars. A miscalculation that caused a $ 327.6 million mission to fail.

Even companies like Lockheed Martin and NASA don’t always have an understanding of the shared documents and protocols that are necessary to develop new technology. Okay, we at Bizzomate are not building the next Mars Rover, but we do like avoiding costly mistakes for our customers. We make sure that our team adds value to your proposition and therefore we focus on shared understanding and try to avoid making assumptions.

As the engineers at NASA learned through their multimillion-dollar failure, creating documents that aren’t misinterpreted, is nearly impossible. There are several reasons why people and organizations misinterpret data and most of those mistakes are avoidable. Key factor in the prevention of misinterpretation is communication between hand-offs. The supplier can provide context and reasoning, while the receiving party can ask about the stuff they don’t fully understand. “Are those metric or imperial units?”, would’ve prevented a control room of disillusioned engineers.

A conversation provides an opportunity to challenge each other. A product requirement document on the other hand, leaves little to no room for engineers to come up with creative solutions based on their own expertise. That’s why Bizzomate makes use of stories to explain what needs to be done which is the solution you’ve been looking for. Wherever possible, we use visualizations of our ideas on whatever is available to make sure we have a shared understanding and land (y)our mission safely.

We are software “architects, analysts, techies and designers” and throughout the years we’ve created a pragmatic and creative approach to identify the right problems to solve before you start with the development of the bits and bytes. No long research studies, no thick reports but 4 clear steps to success.

Are you solving the right problems, or are you making software that nobody asked for??

Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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