Every single software vendor is trying to make their product very easy for anyone to use. The saying, “Software your mom can use” is a common expression you hear. However, what is not so obvious is that Easy Software has an ugly side which can make companies less efficient. Now, you are probably thinking, “How could easier software make me less efficient?” Well, the root of the problem is that there is a gap in understanding of what easy software is and what you might think it is or should be.
Clarification to make sure we are on the same page
I just want to mention early in the post that I am focusing on software applications that are substantial in size such as CAD/CAM, ERP, PLM, etc. applications.
Easy can be Dangerous
If you have software that is easy to use with minimal or no training you can create something and get things done very quickly. This fast visual validation gives you the illusion that you have the expertise to use the software efficiently.
Unfortunately, the reality is that you have only really learned the very basics which allow you to create the initial artifacts very quickly. You then may continue to use the software for months or even years while only learning the subset of features in the workflow that you first used.
However, the majority of the time the software has way more features and potential workflows that will allow you to accomplish your tasks faster with less mistakes and produce a higher quality product. But guess what…you never discover or research the better method because you incorrectly think you already know the software because you can produce the final result that you need/want.
Being able to accomplish a task does not mean that you are doing it in the best way. This is how easy software can be dangerous.
I have had a recent example of just this. I was helping my cousin with his resume. As we were formatting the Word document he was struggling to get the same formatting for his headings. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have had consistent formatting using the method he was using; however, I mentioned that there was actually a better method he should use. I said that he should use the feature Format Painter to copy styling very quickly. His comment was, “That is awesome. It makes it so much easier and faster. Thank you very much.” Therefore, even an easy program such as a word processor is affected by the dangers of Easy. Imagine what you are missing with the other applications you are using?
Avoiding the Dangers of Easy Software
Easy software does not have to be dangerous as long as you understand that easy software does not mean you will automatically discover the best workflow to accomplish a task. It is important to come to the realization that just because you can get to a certain end result does not mean that you got there in the most efficient way. With easy software you need to accept that even though you can get things done, it does not always translate to being the fastest way to accomplish the task.
Training, consultancy, blogs, How-To video are usually still required when you use Easy Software. Majority of people using Easy Software do not think they need to invest in any of these activities. This is usually absolutely wrong. Having said that, the good news is that with software that is truly easy, the amount of training and/or consultancy will not be significant (because the application is easy) and you will get a return of investment within days/weeks. Also, investing your time to read some blogs (which you are doing:)) or being part of a free on-line community can pay dividends towards being more efficient.
Software being easy is something I believe in and think the trend to make easy software is overall a requirement.
You simply need to understand the ugly side of having Easy Software. Getting trapped with thinking that since you can get things done that you are an “expert” is the risk of using easy software. Understanding this is the first phase of not falling into the Easy Software deception. With Easy Software you will need to invest $ and/or time to learn the best workflows to accomplish what you need to do.
The good thing about easy software is, it is also very easy to avoid the dangers.
For all those SSI users which use ShipConstructor and/or EnterprisePlatform you can join the SSI Nexus community to avoid from falling in the Easy Software trap.