Monday, July 12, 2010

Swiss Army Software

Originally uploaded by herzogbr
Listening to a co-worker talk in a meeting today, I realized that we've been spending a lot of time trying to convince people that our new document management system is good and useful and not the end of civilization as we know it, but that's not enough. We also have to do a better job of managing expectations from the other direction, making it clear that the system isn't a magic bullet. It's not, by itself, going to solve every information gathering problem we have in our organization.

I think some people have this expectation that new technology is going to solve all their problems - if they just find the right system, the right software, the one key to fit all the locks. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. Technology, like anything else, is just a tool, and generally tools are only designed to do a limited range of tasks. There is no Swiss Army Knife of software, only hammers and screwdrivers and wrenches. We need all of these things, because none of them will do everything for us. We can't expect to pound a nail with sandpaper just like we can't use Outlook to create a spreadsheet.

In this particular situation the conundrum yet to be solved is that we want to talk this particular user down from his overblown expectations, while still promoting the value of the system to other, still skeptical, staff.

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