Software. We love it and we hate it.
Hate’s a strong word, but software that doesn't fulfil your needs can be genuinely emotive in this regard. With some notable exceptions, a lot of software can feel like it’s just not delivering, even if it is a market leader.
Why did you buy it?
It was probably the result of an investment your CIO or CMO signed off on ages ago. There was such promise in the beginning. Everyone was crowing about how this software was going to fix everything that came before it. The management believed it. The vendor believed it. Maybe even the users believed it. But here you are today, and you hate it.
This cycle seems to happen with remarkable frequency. You bought the best in class, it was implemented to your requirements and yet here you are. It looks like Gartner’s Hype Cycle and the notorious Trough of Disillusionment. Or does it?
What if your software had a voice?
This issue comes up regardless of whether you’re using top right magic quadrant or home grown software. It might even be a well-established brand that’s just new to your business. Either way, I’ve sat in plenty of customer meetings and had the same discussion. What’s interesting about it is that the guilty party isn’t properly able to defend itself. Usually IT or your implementation partner will speak for the technology. But how valid is that defence? In my opinion, not always.
Imagine for a second the software itself has a voice. After you’ve given it both barrels, the software might say something like, “I’m here to help you do your job, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. You know what I think? I think we might both be victims in this relationship. Do you remember the implementation project? I do! That’s when things really started to go wrong. Half of my features aren’t even used, I’m configured all wrong and I barely recognise myself. I’m better than this. You just don’t know it”.
Time to get a second expert opinion
So have you really given your software a chance? Have you considered that the software itself may not be the problem, just your perception of it based on how it was implemented? Perhaps it can do what you want it to do after all.
Before you throw it out and commit the business to spend yet more money on a new platform, perhaps a second expert opinion could make you best friends again. I know this is possible because I’ve been that second opinion. In my experience, it’s more likely than not that someone really can make the software do what you want. You might even already have the answer to your problems.
Start asking the right questions
Here are a few questions worth asking:
• Have you gotten a second expert opinion?
• Have you fully articulated what the problems really are and the tangible effect on the business?
• Is there evidence of these issues generally in the market?
• How much of the software/platform are you really using?
• Has anyone pulled the software license recently to check what else you bought? (This is a classic problem. The amount of software I’ve seen left on the shelf unimplemented is amazing.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all relationships with software are fixable. Yours may very well be beyond help. It may even have been the wrong choice from the start. But the cost of finding out compared to the cost of the new shiny thing that will supposedly solve everything is well worth thinking about. Because more likely than not, that shiny new thing probably won’t stay shiny for long anyway.