Why context is so important in software development

In this article I want to propose a thought experiment. Let’s use empathy, the main characteristic of a software product manager, to put ourselves in the position of a software developer who has received the following story from his team’s product manager:

When it reaches 39, an alarm should go off.

Although it appears to have enough information, when you start implementing it, you will see that information is missing. What are 39? Does the alarm go off when it get to 39 coming from 38 or coming from 40? Or both ways?

Let us now see the same story with the proper context:

We are developing a system that monitors body temperature and this system should sound an alarm when the temperature rises and passes 39ºC.

With the context it becomes much easier to understand what the number 39 is and why you were asked to sound the alarm. And it is easier to code to right software.

So in your next planning session with the team, take the proper time to explain the context of the stories. This will increase the chances of success of your software!

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