My first job out of college was building, installing and implementing software that scheduled agents in a call center. For it’s time, this was a state of the art application. It took into account each agent’s skills, languages spoken, times available, shift preferences and even the kind of media they preferred to handle. All of this was factored into a scheduling engine that analyzed, optimized and came up with a schedule that could increase a call center’s efficiency by 100% or more. So imagine my surprise when the first request from most customers during an implementation was “show us how to enter our current schedule into your system and that’s it.”
Think about that for a second. They just spent a considerable amount of money on a state of the art system that was easy to use and much faster than anything they had before; a system that could give them 100% better results, and what they asked it to do was maintain the status quo. That’s sort of like me telling you “I have an app here that can help you get 100% healthier in under a week. It will analyze your exercise and eating habits, look at your preferences and dislikes and then spit out an exercise and nutrition program that you’ll enjoy and fits into your schedule. This system is easy to use and will grow with you adapting to your needs.” Now you take this system and use it for nothing more than tracking your weight. Crazy, right?
Except this situation repeated itself at every single company and with every single product I’ve ever built. Each and every time we sold the customer a highly advanced system that could take what they’re doing and optimize it for much better results, and the most common response was “just show me how to use your system to do what I’m doing today”. In some cases there were valid reasons for a certain lack of flexibility, reasons like union contracts or government regulations, but even in these situations the lack of flexibility wasn’t complete. Yet even these customers refused to optimize within the limited constraints they had. Every where I went the status quo was always preferred, even when presented with a tool that could make life easier.
The result? Software implementation that were barely used and customers that were disappointed with results that never measured up to the promises they heard during the sales process.