15
September
2009

The client vs. vendor relationship 00:00 on Tuesday

There are tradeoffs between looking after end users, and the expenses required to do so. Creating the best possible user experience usually doesn’t come cheap. Then again, creating a bad user experience isn’t free either, yet the value or benefit to the user can be nil. So most every project needs to find a balance between spending a lot of resources to deliver a lot of value to the users, and limiting effort to stay within time and resource constraints, inevitably reducing the value provided to the users.

In a client-vendor relationship, this struggle nearly always get framed as “the client against the user”. The vendor sides with the users, accusing the client of ignoring the needs of the users. The client accuses the vendor for ignoring the business constraints. The usual consequence is a compromise that isn’t valuable to the users, nor does it satisfy the client’s needs for business results.

But clients and vendors are not at opposing ends. In reality the choice between business or the users doesn’t exist. There is no competition between the two. The goal is common, and seeing this is a matter of agreeing to do a cost-benefit forecast of sorts. If there is zero value for users, if the users get nothing out of the client’s products, why would they spend a cent of their money or a second of their attention on the products? Even if the vendor designs the greatest user experience of the world, isn’t it worthless if the client cannot affort building and maintaining it?

Know the resources, find out what value (user benefits) can be built with the resources at hand, and estimate and track the value users give back to the client in return. Clients should be happy, and users should be happy (enough). If not, you don’t have a working business plan.

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