Water colours in a box

Software that is unreliable or hard to use causes stress in the work place. It also lowers productivity.

The previous post is on coping with IT-stress This is about preventing it.

Software can change

Software is named in contrast to hardware. Computer programs should be easy to change. You can get an update into production in less then an hour, with modern methods. ( Refer to Accelerate if you encounter someone who says otherwise.) If the software is not working, for the ones using it, the software should be changed.

Be a part of the process

Half of corporate budgets for software (in Sweden) is used for customisation. Either for modifications of existing software by external parties or external developers working on in-house projects. On top of that, about 40% of IT-workers in Sweden work for companies that produce something else than software.

That is a lot of software being written with a specific customer in mind. If you are that customer, demand to be a part of the entire process. Software tailored to your needs requires your input, just as a suit or dress is made with multiple fittings.

“Off the shelf”-software has to be tried by the end users before committed to. The cognitive ergonomics when investing in software should be considered similar to ergonomics when furnishing a workshop or office.

If the software is a part of your “competitive edge”, consider having a dedicated team of software developers, who get to know you and your domain really well. Provide them with direct access to the end user and put them close to (or in) the product team.

The software team should be like a painters brush, swift in the hands of product development.

If your software team can not deliver on that, provide them with training and other support until they do. Your organisation deserves it.

Put the user in the center

The purpose of software is to make things better. It is a failure if the end user can not easily use the product. We can check that we are building the right thing as we go, if we have the end user close and work in small steps. In Extreme Programing, a flavour of agile, the customer is represented in the team. If that does not work, find another way to get constant and real feedback. This avoids delivering something that is “done”, but can not be used.

Expect more of software

Whenever you can, demand more of software you encounter. Accelerate is a good book on what can be expected of an organisation delivering software. The DevOps report 2021 and The DevOps report 2019 are shorter reports covering the findings from the research. Remember that soft in software is soft as in changeable. If you are in charge of spending money on software, off-the-shelf or in developer hours, take your responsibility. Software development is best done with the end user in focus and in small steps. Don’t accept less.

This text was last modified 2024-02-16

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