When talking to developers, it’s important to ask the right questions.
B2B Market Research Podcast: How to Talk To a Software Developer: 23 Questions Researchers Should Ask
In this podcast episode, Cascade Insights CEO Sean Campbell describes a few of the questions market researchers need to ask when interviewing software developers.
- Figuring out how code is managed
- Determining how new product functionality is released
- Learning how the development team solves problems
In this podcast, we’ll talk about what market researchers and competitive intelligence teams should ask about when analyzing a modern software product engineering effort.
First off, software developers in engineering teams are their own unique breed. It’s their business to be on the cutting edge with the software and technology they create. When you talk with the developers, you need to ask questions that demonstrate you’re informed about what their day-to-day life is like.
So how can you crack the code on how developers and engineering teams do their jobs?
Here are 23 questions you need to ask.
Find out how code is managed
First off, there are a host of code management questions to dig into. These include:
- What set of programming tools is the team using to create their product or service?
- What development methodologies are currently in vogue across the team?
- How are teams organized?
- How are project management and cross dependencies handled?
- What is the process for writing code and building applications?
- How are related documents like specs and design elements distributed and maintained?
- What do code reviews entail? Are they formal or informal?
- In the software development process, what is automated and what requires human intervention?
- How are code and applications deployed? Who handles deployment?
Determine the process of releasing new product functionality
You’ll also want to figure out how software features are prioritized and the steps for determining which features make it into the final product or service.
Questions could include:
- How is product functionality tested before it is released?
- Are teams free to prototype or is the process more rigidly controlled?
- When it comes to releasing and shipping new code, do smaller teams have a lot of latitude? Or is it a highly coordinated effort?
- How is design handled? Is it top down or more organic?
- Does the team use beta test builds, interim builds, etc.?
- Do they make early, pre-production-ready versions externally available to people?
Learn how the team solves problems
It’s important to know how the software development team solves problems. You can learn a lot from asking:
- How does the team respond to site outages, product issues, etc.?
- How does the team deal with technical debt?
- How do they handle major rewrites?
- What’s their approach for preventing problems – i.e. SWCC (“Stop Writing Crummy Code”)?
- How is functionality or services deprecated?
- How is software monitored in production?
- What are the best processes for capturing and analyzing customer usage data? This is a critical question, since the user monitoring allowed by services these days is unprecedented.
- When a feature or lack of a feature is confused with a bug, how does the team handle it? (For example, was the lack of copy / paste in early iOS releases a feature waiting to be implemented or a bug?)
For all of the subjects (Infrastructure, SaaS, Cloud, Cybersecurity, DevOps, etc.) we’ve covered over the years we know that it’s critical that our analysts have the ability to engage with each interviewee in a meaningful way that leads to great insights.
Having the right questions in hand goes along way toward doing just that.
Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to rate the B2B Market Research podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. If you’d like to suggest a topic or guest for an upcoming episode, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This podcast is brought to you by Cascade Insights. Cascade Insights specializes in market research and competitive intelligence for B2B technology companies. Our specialization allows us to deliver detailed insights that generalist firms simply can’t match. We offer an array of free resources including a blog, ebook, podcast archive and newsletter.