Letter to my Alien Overlords... I mean... Customers.

If there's one thing I've learned about developing bespoke software solutions it is that the end user and the developer do not live on the same planet. They're close neighbours, but on sufficiently different orbits that their views of the sky are most often at different angles, and only once every so often does a natural alignment occur. They are close enough to have a tidal effect on each other... they cause friction within each other and as Io knows, that causes heat.

The gut response on both sides tends to be death-rays at dawn. The pressure on software developers to meet bureaucratically dictated, unrealistic deadlines is eclipsed only by the Supreme Commander of the enemy fleets weight baring down on his technical departments. These are huge contracts, worth more than a lot of us will earn in a decade and the market changes daily. Particularly in my solar system, orbiting the bright and treacherous star of personal finance the local cosmic conditions are never static and the time sensitivity of delivery is unparalleled.

So here's a few thoughts to help cool everyone's phasers and set the course back towards the lofty goals of exploration and mutual understanding (and profit). Organisationally we're both about the same thing. The bottom line means that you and I get a cheque at the end of the month and we're both much happier in this position. The issue stems from the differing ways in which we work towards that goal. You, the large personal finance product vendor are selling a more-or-less off the shelf range of packages to intermediaries or Joe Public. So long as the packages aren't faulty, your customers are happy and the price is right then you're doing your job. Your focus is on the people giving you money. What actually comes in those off the shelf boxes isn't of enormous concern to you while-ever it's working.

We're much the same, however you're our customer. We're the guys that need to understand what you're selling, and create the machinery that manufactures your boxes, and the machinery that counts your money in such a way that makes your regulators and the government happy. These are your boxes, but in a very real sense we care a lot more about the minutiae of those boxes than you do. We care about every tiny detail.

This is why we quibble about how your box design is worded, which order the parts are put together and the colour of the ribbon it's tied with. If this stuff goes wrong, your customers are the first to get upset, which makes you upset and soon enough makes us upset. The seemingly unimportant little detail that lead to the seemingly trivial misunderstanding now has the regulator peering over your shoulders to make sure you're not being naughty when in reality it's a mistake that WE made reading your guide to building boxes. So show us a little patience for our annoying questions, our foibles and our seemingly convoluted processes. We're being methodical, and it's to your advantage in the long term. Don't assume what you've said is obvious - the universal translator is on the fritz again.

Thank you.