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What is the difference between Customer and End Users?

In a lot of IT projects, Customer and End User contains the same group of people, even if in realty they are different. Because of this, we can end up very easily into a conflict between different scopes.
In today post we will take a look about the Customer and the End User of an application. We will try to define and discover what the similitudes and difference are between them.
The simplest way to describe this two roles is:
  • Customer: relates to the development process
  • End User: relates to product and services
TIP: You should never be end-user-driven, otherwise the customer will look as a ‘not team player’ – heathen person.
End User consumes and needs services brought by the product that you develop. For them, the application itself and the services/features from it bring the real value. In general, the source of revenue for customer is the end user that pays for this product. And in the end this feeds also the development team.
We can see a Customer, as a middle man between End User and development team, because they are not the consumers. In the same time, they play a crucial role. You shouldn't imagine the Customer as an external company, but is important to not have the Customer concept in the development team. We should have different teams and people. If we have the same people/teams we should keep in mind what is the role of each of them.
A customer can be seen as the role that takes the risks. For example he can identify a market opportunity, a lack of specific service. In this case he will risk and invest money in it. In this situations, Customer interest will be around development costs and delivery time. As software developer, you would expect a Customer to have a high interest in the functionality also, but usually the interest is not at the same level as costs and delivery time.
Because of this, the Customer should be involved in all process improvements areas (like retrospectives). His interest around development is not as high as we may expect.
In conclusion, we could say that customer is oriented to delivery, costs and processes. End User is oriented to application and what features are offered to resolve their problem (need). Knowing exactly who ‘plays’ the role of Customer and End User, we (as development team) can know exactly to witch role address different questions.


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