Customers or Colleagues: How do you think of the other groups in the business?

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I got into a discussion with another person at work today about whether the people we work with from the other departments are our customer or our colleagues.I'm curious, what mindset do use when thinking about the people in other departments...

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I believe it depends on your relationship to the department. I have seen departments with more of a taskmaster to forced labor relationship too, sadly, with the obvious unhappiness that comes with that.

I think any department with some measure of self-determination has the concept of "inside" and "outside". Whether you want to call some part of the outside customers or colleagues depends on whether they justify your salary.

Examples from a couple of products I work on.

One product we mostly use internally. So other departments are customers since they justify the budget for work on that product. They ask for features and contact us for support.

However on another product, it is mostly external companies that use it (although we do use it internally as well). So I would consider most everyone else colleagues in that context. Some co-workers who use it internally put on the customer "hat" from time to time. But for the most part employee interaction with the product is in support of external clients.

 

It can vary based on the set of products. I've worked on teams that built internal platforms and tooling around systems for other developers to use. Also internal business facing products. Sometimes your colleagues are dogfooding products along with external facing customers other times general public on hits the top of the iceberg in the amount of complexity we manage to make a process easier. Often colleagues can be stakeholders but not necessarily a customer.

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Matt Ballance profile image
Learning Android Dev (Kotlin) from scratch. Done some web dev (HTML, React-ish) in the past. Accidental DBA and IT/DEV Project Manager that's constantly running out of room on the hat rack.

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