The Trouble With Software (and what to do about it)


Posted in Integration by Ernie Schell on September 17, 2011

Please add your comments, insights, issues, and gripes about Integration below.


We welcome your contribution.

Posted in General Overview by Ernie Schell on September 6, 2011

This site is a place for you to post comments, gripes, insights, and complaints about the difficulty of implementing, using, managing, and coping with business software applications in the real world.

While business applications are a necessary evil, they often seem to impede more than they enable.  And the blame for this applies equally to users as it does to system vendors: poor training, inadequate or absent documentation, clumsy implementation, incomplete integration, dirty data, and a myriad of traps and trappings confound even good systems that are otherwise potentially beneficial. But in many cases the culprit is indeed the systems themselves, which are often poorly written by multiple teams over many years, with little sense of overall coordination of the final product. And of course that means that they are inherently incapable of meeting the real needs of real users in the real world. To say nothing of the fact that the “generic” user doesn’t exist. YOU need something tailored to YOUR needs in YOUR environment. And the irony is that this painful result will be your reality even if the software is designed in-house (or by third-party contractors), instead of coming from a systems vendor as a packaged solution.

It almost doesn’t matter what methodology is used by the developers (third-party or in-house). The failure to truly meet real world needs efficiently and effectively seems to be endemic to the business. But I have provided categories in which you can address these methodologies specifically, if you wish.

Of course, few of us use just one system, and getting them all to work together is not only difficult, but often the cause of much of the pain suffered by systems users. And let’s not overlook one of the most significant issues, which is called “scope creep” when the system is being developed or customized, but is simply the ever-evolving business rules that any system needs to manage and enable. As these change during any given year, the “good fit” a system may have had will wobble and degrade and may ultimately collapse under its  own weight.

Some of these things are so obvious we don’t bother to gripe about them, or we use “work-arounds” which make life easier for a user or group of users but may actually just shift the pain and magnify it for other users or other departments or business units.

Will your contribution here be anything more than a way to “sound off”? I hope to incorporate these comments into a monograph on the subject sometime in 2012. Until then, blast away! And thank you in advance for your participation.

Ernie Schell
Director, Marketing Systems Analysis
A division of Systems Consulting International, LLC