Brain Chain: An Interview with Mark Servais
We sat down with Mark Servais, Principal Web Developer at Velir to talk about how to use client requirements as a foundation to a project.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What the foundation of a web solution is based on (0:41)
- How to go beyond the scope and system to the client's core "whys" (1:34)
- How to view requirements from a cultural standpoint (2:53)
"We're tracking requirements. Through construction, testings, deployment delivery, and even after the project is completed, we want to refer back to those to be able to make life a little bit easier, from a scope context and ecosystem standpoint."
Video Transcript (Edited for Clarity)
[Public Interface Intro]
Mark Stiles (Principal Web Developer): Welcome to Public Interface. I’m Mark, and joining me today is Mark Servais, a Principal Web Developer at Velir. Today we're going to be talking about requirement traceability. Mark…
Mark Servais: Hey thanks for having me, man, appreciate it.
Mark Stiles: What are traceable requirements?
Mark Servais: We all know what requirements are, right? We know the elicitation process that we all use to get requirements to be able to build the products that we build. So, all we're really doing here is tracking those requirements and being able to refer back to them at any point in the process whatsoever—not just design but we want to through construction, through testing, through delivery, deployment, and delivery. Even after the project is completed, we want to refer back to those to be able to make life a little bit easier from a scope context and ecosystem standpoint.
Mark Stiles: It's the world history of your project.
Mark Servais: More or less. It's definitely the foundation. I mean what are you going to build if you don't know what you're building. It’s a little tough.
Mark Stiles: It's also really important to give the people working on the project a bit of scope and context so that they're able to adapt to each new situation.
Mark Servais: Look it even goes beyond scope and contacts. Those things are tremendously important to what you're doing but it even goes back to the whys—why am I doing this—why are we doing this? It keeps track of scope creep from a presentation standpoint, from a client perspective—I want to get this, everybody wants a little bit more so now you kind of have this set of documented traceable things to go, “Well if we do that, here's what it's going to affect, and this is how much it's going to cost versus everything else.”
Mark Stiles: So, at any given point if say a requirement changes or something happens where a new feature is added, you can go back look at it, and determine whether or not something is relevant still or if this is going to affect the way you're going to approach a solution.
Mark Servais: You know we do a lot Sitecore work, and Sitecore has got this great multilanguage capability so one of the things that that is assumed by a lot of people as well I just need to put this into a different culture. I'm going to expand my operations to wherever—Asia Pacific Rim—so we start looking at different aspects. It's more than just going, "Well, I have my form in Sitecore of all my fields that we were using as content so I will just translate them all and everything, will be fine.” It's the completely wrong way to go about that. Now we can kind of tie it back if the requirement was looking at North America as a target audience and here are the requirements of what we were going to hit from a cultural standpoint. Now we're going to add a new culture. Now we can kind of go back and we did this thing because of this particular culture and now we have to change that a little bit. Take for instance we maybe have a holiday section on our website—North American holidays are not going to match much of the rest of the world. From a cultural standpoint everybody's got different beliefs, different moral systems, and everything else. To be able to go back, and go okay well now I have to introduce this new aspect of cultural info, now I can go back and I can start picking out those components—I can look at the design—we can even go back to the tasks and go “Okay, this is what we're going to have to really look at and redo.”
Mark Stiles: If you're able to take that context and go back and say, “Yeah now that I'm gonna translate this content—maybe it's a holiday—maybe it's Christmas.” If I go back and I understand that the business is really just trying to offer promotion for a holiday I'm gonna say to myself “Right, I'm in Asia or Middle East—Christmas probably isn't the best way I’m not just going to just translate this. They’re gonna be like, ‘Who is Saint Nick?’” If you’re able to say, now I understand this culture, I’m going to put in the appropriate holiday then it allows you to adapt to the business better.
Mark Servais: I think Chevrolet and Coca-Cola had their little faux pas of introducing their product into another culture and having the name mean completely something different. I think it was like the Chevy Nova was like “an exploding car” now because they didn’t really take a look at the translation and what it really meant in context. So now, we’ve got a map.
Mark Stiles: Yeah. A mind map.
Mark Servais: [Laughs] A mind map. You can’t take a journey without a map. You can, but you may end up somewhere you don’t want to go.
Mark Stiles: [Laughing] I'll leave it at that.
Mark Servais: [Laughing] Leave it at that.
Mark Stiles: Thank you Mark.
Mark Servais: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Mark Stiles: Absolutely. So that’s our show! Follow us on Twitter (@Velir)—let us know your thoughts in the comments and as always watch us next time as we implement another episode of Public Interface!
[Outro Music and Closing Credits]
Today’s Guest: Mark Servais
Produced By: Velir
Director: Mark Stiles
Technical Director: Chris Brady
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