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How to make sure your software lives up to your expectations

Guest Blogger (HPE-SW-Guest) ‎06-20-2012 10:59 AM - edited ‎06-25-2015 03:22 PM


By Susan Merriman

WW Leader of Emerging Technologies, HPSW Education 20-Jun, 2012


I was chatting to Neelesh Rangnekar, HPSW’s Director of Education, over lunch the other day when something came up that we’d both come across a number of times before.


‘So many software implementations fall short of expectations because companies simply don’t know enough about the product they’re buying,’ Neelesh said. 


‘I mean, you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, would you? Would you splash out on a new pair of shoes without slipping your feet into them first?’ he continued.


I found myself agreeing with him entirely. The thing is, in any transaction, the vendor is obliged to provide you with the product they promised: but there is also an onus on you, the customer, to be informed about what you’re about to buy.


As Neelesh said, trying a product for size is just as important when you’re buying a new software system as it is when you’re shopping for shoes: you shouldn’t invest in a new IT system without trying it out first.   


Try before you buy

As Neelesh, who spent years directing HPSW’s Americas consulting business, continued to talk, I realized that it would be selfish of me not to share his expertise with you. So here are his thoughts on trying before buying.


Too many software installations fall short of the customer’s expectations, but there is a simple way to avoid this pitfall.  As a customer you need to let the vendor know exactly what you need the software to do for your company. And the vendor should make sure that the buyer is fully aware of the system’s limitations.


This might sound obvious, but it’s not quite as simple as it seems. Often the vendor sends the client a lengthy, jargon-heavy specs sheet that they may or may not read, and may or may not fully understand. Or the customer presents the vendor with a list of completely unworkable demands and expects them all to be fulfilled. 


The only way to deliver the system the customer is expecting is to give them a realistic view of the software in action.


On paper versus in practice

As a customer you should let a select team of ‘power users’ sit in on your initial discussions with the vendor. That way, the vendor gets to know both the high-level business objectives of the company and the practical, day-to-day requirements of its end users.


And these power users should be allowed to play around with the software so they are familiar with its interface, its functionality and, most importantly, its limitations.


Slowly but steady wins the race

Giving end users access to software simulations in the early stages of a deployment is one of the many benefits of adopting the Agile – rather than the Waterfall – methodology.


The Waterfall technique sees the customer being presented with a completed solution, based on a single initial brief, at the end of the development period. The Agile process, however, is a continuous one, where the client has visibility over the system throughout its development. The piecemeal nature of the Agile approach means that the customer can make alterations to the system at any stage of the project, giving them a much more realistic idea of what the final product will be like.


So why did Neelesh’s thoughts strike such a cord with me from a learning standpoint? Well, he recommends giving end users the chance to try out software at the installation stage; and this is essentially early education. Users are learning how to use the system well before any formal training process begins – and that can only contribute to the success of any software implementation.


So what’s your company’s approach to installing new software? Do your end users arrive into work to find the entire IT system has changed overnight? Or does your company provide education in advance and seek the advice of the people who are going to be using the system the most?



Related links:

HP Software Education

HP Adoption Readiness Tool (ART)

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