SOFTWARE – CUSTOMER / USER BLUES

DailyPost 2079
SOFTWARE – CUSTOMER / USER BLUES

If all software were to work as intended, planned and supposedly developed, we would have all landed in the fairyland by now. If all users were trained and gone through a process of handholding enabling them, to use the software at the optimum, if not the best, we would still be working in an extremely efficient manner. Then they would also be fit enough to do the first level of problem resolution. If the software expertise of a group of professional users in an organization, at the operational level was more than that of the individual, it would be a smooth run of mutual help when needed. If the technical support made available by the software development enterprise turned out to be both handy and comprehensive, it would have been a different professional world.

Software unfortunately, is being created or developed as a manufacturing product and being sold in the same manner. Unfortunately, the two belong to totally two different genres, and it has taken quite some time even to understand this difference at both ends and still it has barely reached the near nascent stage. Software is a living and an iterative product, which needs to be understood by the whole usage enterprise (customer) and all the stakeholders in that ecosystem. The quality of the software is partially dependent on the proper synchronization of the requirements with the development and the joint team, co-located; physically or virtually, pulling it through from the beginning to the end. We have seen varieties of software breaking down, even towards the end of the development phase.

The most recent and well-known example is the Income Tax software being developed by Infosys. The taxpayer was the real user and he faced the music with the IT dept trying to unleash it, in the state which it was. This is just an example and we find users facing issues with a large number of software, at times because of connectivity / storage and other issues as well. Who is responsible is another story. These are the software we develop. The gold standard ones, well known over the years, generally don’t allow for any customization. The business process is reoriented to the software and not the other way round. Even the creation of masters and date and time stamp leads to issues, both in project execution, procurement and in day to day functioning.

Finding workable turn-arounds has become the order of the day. The call center handling of software fixes, the less said the better. The Bank relationship managers generally have no clue of how to help even individual customers regarding intricate nuances of the software. Complex enterprise level software; customer facing too, can work in an assisted, supported and facilitated ecosystem. That too comes down creaking at times. RBI ordered HDFC to stop all digital business activities, planned under its Digital 2.0 program, other proposed business generating IT applications and sourcing of new credit card customers in 2020. Implementation of SAP still remains a challenge for most of the enterprises and takes a long duration of time. The proficiency of the user and the near perfect customization remains a challenge. The workarounds become so commonplace, as if the software was developed in that manner and you are flatly told, strangely by the users, that nothing can be done about it. Software blues keep plaguing the customer and user in wide and varied ways and is a living nuisance. We are still a world away from the plug and play world, if it were to happen.

WE HAVE THE SOFTWARE BUT NOT THE WHEREWITHAL TO RUN IT MOST OPTIMALLY.
Sanjay Sahay

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