Part 2 of 5 for the July edition of "Converging over Coffee"
If we were building a product or a service, it's not hard to see why we want to pay the most attention to customer or end-user needs and preferences. For infrastructure developments however, the identity of the customer or end-user is less obvious. Typically, public use of these infrastructure services is an important factor but can be adequately addressed and doesn't influence development decisions as much as say consumer products. So who is the "real customer"?
Is it the operations team who is actually going to "use" the infrastructure systems & facilities, keep it performing at a high level, and find the balance in maintenance & replacement to achieve that?
Is it the planning team who spent months or years looking carefully at current systems data and coordinated with multiple stakeholders to define the horizon, the nuances of the future and crystallized the strategic needs?
Or is it the development team, in between the planner & the operators, who needs to go beyond development vision and future operability to deal with very real & very current implementation constraints that risk the completion & the very existence of the infrastructure itself?
There is an equally compelling case for each of these 3 distinct groups to be the "real customer" for infrastructure delivery. Diminishing any of these 3 sets of interests during the project life cycle will open the doors to real value erosion.