Marriage and Software: A Common Selection Criteria for Lifelong Partnership
I’m sure we all believe it to be just coincidence that roughly half of all corporate software implementations end in “shelf-ware,” while roughly the same proportion of marriages end the same way. However, as distant as these two topics are from each other; maybe if we apply some of the same criteria to software selection as we should to marriage – we might find solutions with which we can thrive now and even grow ‘old’.
Of course, need drives initiative, which in turn drive selection of a software solution – for workforce mobility as an example. Not surprisingly, most requirements I see from customers (e.g. in an RFP) have criteria that focuses on the current and known needs of the business – such as task dispatch, time reporting, and customer signature. But this seems much like picking a spouse that has a great physique and a fast car, without recognition that these will become less important than a caring partner or a loving parent – needs that aren’t apparent at the time of marriage but become more so over time. Moreover, those who are successful in marriage generally pick a partner that has fundamentally strong characteristics so that they can continue to have a happy marriage even through those challenges which are NOT known on the ‘wedding day’.
Considering the rapid change in technology that has us constantly asking “what’s next,” we must all admit that there is much more that we do not know about our future requirements – than we do know about our current requirements. Rather than selection criteria for software solution that focuses on today’s business needs; I propose that we would be better to look for a software partner that has the fundamentally strong characteristics, so that it can support the business even for those business (or technical) needs which are NOT known on the ‘contract signing day.’
What do I mean by “fundamentally strong?” If we again consider field workforce mobility, we would be better to have a solution which provides a robust “platform” on which we deploy a solution for the today’s requirements; but can be easily extended to support requirements of which we aren’t even aware. There are debates amongst every forum as to the direction of mobility – focused on singular roles (e.g. field technician) vs. mobilizing every enterprise application. Radio bands, 802.11, 3G, 4G, and who knows what’s next? Barcode scanning, photo capture, asset management, and who knows what’s next? Only a true mobility “platform” will support each of these and whatever comes in the future.
My colleagues and friends will laugh at the irony of my lack of marital success, but haven’t we all learned at some point that if we want to live “happily ever after” then we have to look beyond a hot body and a great sense of humor? By the number of times that mobility (and other) solutions have been shelved; only to be replaced by another solution that is much the same – I say we haven’t learned enough.