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Continuous interaction with users

Table of contents
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Subject area/Theme
User Engagement/Communication

Best Practice:

During a project, such as one of the projects funded by GMES*, where data products are being jointly developed, there should be an ongoing and continuous exchange between service providers and users on both formal and the informal level.

Explain why is there a need for this Best Practice?

Product development that relies solely on gathering specifications at the beginning of the related project will rarely work. Mutual trust and understanding needs be developed between both service providers and users.  This is a gradual process. During the course of a joint project, data providers' ability, to comprehend their users' views, can become increasingly better if they practice an ongoing exchange with these users. Likewise, during this exchange, users can become increasingly clearer about their needs, and learn better to translate these to product specifications. 

Provide an example application(s):

Communication practices throughout and also within GMES* projects vary. There are examples of true partnership between users and providers, and, likewise, there are examples for providers who include users in their projects only as a politically motivated necessity.

How widely deployed is this practice(if applicable)

See above. 

Owner (Originator) Contact Information:

Best Practices/GEOSS Transverse Areas/Data and Architecture/Bottom up aggregation of land cover data/GNU.jpg

Submitter Contact Information:


Detailed Description of Best Practice

For a formal continuous exchange, suitable means would be newsletters, training events, information sharing through meetings and media such as a project website, and there should be a continuous product evaluation by users in an iterative fashion, that is prototypes should be evaluated, feedback from users gathered, the product further developed and, again, be evaluated. Cf. Standardised Service Level Agreements.

On the rather informal level, continuous personal interaction should be used to promote successful data product development because not all issues that will finally determine whether a data product or service is successful, can be formally captured. Cf. Requirements vs. Needs. 

For newsletters to be truly interesting to the user community they should be comprehensive but concise. This could be achieved in electronic newsletters that provide headline information and the option to read more details in a particular web site. Most importantly, project newsletters should not be seen by the service providers as a mere promotional material. If providers put only positive user statements in the project newsletters and recycle them over time they will loose credibility with the users. Moreover, users will become increasingly hesitant to make positive statements about data products if they feel that they are only instrumental to publicity campaigns. 


)* Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, the European contribution to GEO.

Editors comments:

Please check the text.  I made a number of small clarifying editorial changes.  Please correct if the result does not meet the original intent.

Please provide contact personnel contact information in either the originator or submitter fields above.  One of those two fields must contain the name and email of a person that can be contacted.

-- R. Duerr


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