I have the best job in the world. Each day I get to meet with organizations that have a vision, a purpose and a goal in mind – leverage technology in new and exciting ways to change the way business is done now and into the future.
One of the things that I hear over and over is “our software sucks”. There are so many things to discuss about this phrase that they cannot be handled in a single blog so I thought I start with one of the common ones and continue with a series.
Lets start with what I call “feelings”. Organizations go through tremendous pain in developing requirements, selecting the “best tool”, making a business case, going through an implementation (many times like giving birth, even though I never have; from what I understand) and “going live” with results that leave everyone saying “just wait till phase 2″. Each of these activities involves cross functional teams that have all of the right intentions individually but as a group, sometimes with different agendas (from slightly different to being on other planets). What is really important to understand is that all of these teams are made up of people and all of these people have feelings.
We work in organizations that have cultures. We work with people on a day in and day out basis that we are supposed to like and supposed to be courteous to and in most cases we are. All of these people and “relationships” are important during the life of a project, after a project is “live” and ongoing as we spend most of our working day with these humans. The interesting thing that I find when working with organizations and see often is that for the most part, we are “nice”. Now, I think “nice” is good and needed to not be miserable in our daily work with colleagues, but “nice” is what causes organizations not to look in the mirror and realize that maybe, just maybe, it is not the software only that sucks but how we are organized, the lack of alignment of team members, the missing governance model that allows customization to run rampant and the rogue “squeaky wheel” that always gets the exception that they are looking for.
So, the people we work with in our department have feelings. The people who made the decision to buy the software have feelings. Our leadership teams have feelings, as well as controlling our paychecks. Our colleagues across departments have feelings. Our employees and managers have feelings. The one thing that doesn’t have feelings in this story is “the software”.
Oh, the software. A bunch of code and functionality that looks great in a demo but as we transplant it into our organization of dysfunction, old school thinking and inability to make decisions, all of a sudden gets labeled as “sucks”. What is my point here? The software doesn’t have “feelings” and is the easiest thing to blame when expectations are not met. Each and every time expectations are not met, which by the way is almost daily in someones eyes, the easiest thing to blame is the software. Why, it doesn’t have feelings. It is a bunch of 0′s and 1′s that truly don’t care or need to care if you like it or not.
Now, there is a bunch of software the truly does “suck”, mostly because it was written decades before the world we live in today. It didn’t suck then but it was designed for a different era, a different set of users and in a world where expectations were completely different. If you are living in this world, it is time to make a change to your software because each day you wait, it is only getting worse.
The point of this story is that all software can “suck” if not deployed correctly. All software will suck if expectations are not set appropriately. The software will suck if you don’t have organizational alignment and governance. The software will suck if you think change management equals training vs a cultural transformation and the software will suck if you copy old processes that have been around for over 10 years into your new software. But, is it really the software that sucks?
It is time that we take a look in the mirror at our organization and have the hard discussions that maybe, just maybe, the software isn’t as bad as we all say it is but because of our organizational dynamics and decisions made (or lack thereof), we are blaming the one piece of the equation that doesn’t have feelings, the software.
Please forward this to anyone that you hear saying “the software sucks” and ask them to look in the mirror and ask the question “is it the software or is it xxxxx?”
We can’t waste this opportunity of a lifetime to “reboot” how we think and leverage technology in HR as we have wasted the past 5 generations of HR technology because of “feelings”.
Another infusion of knowledge…