Relearning lessons is harder than learning them the first time. Because you know you should know. Why? Because …well, Kelli, we’ve been here before. Remember? 🙄
When I started my career in technology I was a Business Analyst. That meant I worked with the business side of the company, then translated their needs into requirements documents so that our software developers could code the solution. I even did UX design. This was in the 90’s. We made it up as we went along. They call them Product Managers, Product Owners and UX designers in today’s software engineering parlance. Fancy.
I was good at my job, and mostly because I kept the business out of a ditch. ‘Don’t tell me how you want to do something, tell me what you are trying to do.’ This was difficult for some people.
‘I run these three reports. Then I dump them into excel and then I run this macro, and then…’. Ugh.
‘Ok. But why do you do this every Monday morning?’
Heavy sigh of frustration from the user. ‘Because Suzie, my boss, wants to see the data.’
‘And what does Suzie, your boss, do with that data?’ I would ask.
‘I don’t know. She just wants it.’
That would lead me to set up a meeting with Suzie, then Suzie’s boss, etc. And on and on up the chain. I kid you not, half the time no one really knew why they were generating any of these reports or spreadsheet. Or doing activities that had zero business value. People are creatures of habit.
I ran a project once where I had to eliminate 2500 reports so we could switch from one ERP system to another. I was sure I would get fired because people cling to their reports like baby blankets. Especially execs. As if they will drown without them. Six months of meetings later, and of the 2500 reports we found four to replace. Yes, you read that right. FOUR that had any business value. Another six months after go live I had a nasty phone call from an EVP. She wanted to know where her report was and she was PISSED OFF!!
‘You broke that report and I look at it every week!’
I tried to remain calm even though she was yelling at me. ‘Well, I can imagine it’s hard to run your business weekly without this report. But it’s a monthly report so I’m unsure how looking at it every week would change the numbers. But either way, we turned it off six months ago.Your assistant was in every one of the meetings when we made the decision.’ Dead silence on the other end of the line. ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’
‘I’ll call you back!’ SLAM!
Funny, I never heard from her again. In my experience, it’s career suicide to complain about new software that a CEO has just spent $100 million on implementing. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t make it long after our conversation.
Today has had me flashing back to that time in my life. And now, I have become what Jeff refers to as ‘The User.’ This is how software engineers often refer to those who will ultimately use what they are building. Sometimes it’s said with respect. Sometimes with frustration. Right now, I am a little more on the frustration side of that scale. Even for me.
My new food truck POS system arrived. It is touchscreen and runs on hardware that I am used to. But it’s more SAP than Oracle, from a business flow perspective. And while I have implemented SAP, I didn’t love it. The lingo is the same, and so is the process for setting up items (Articulos). Waaay too many steps. Not to say I’ve ever had to personally execute item set up, but at one time long ago, I managed a Master Data team for a large US retailer that did. I heard the whining.
I’m doing more than a little whining today. And I am selling very few items. Article families and product hierarchies! Where is my good friend, Curt Young, the product hierarchy guru, when I need him. And POS self training? I need the PoS mistress, Alissa Yee, to make me tranquila, again. She would sort out why my register tape isn’t printing! Jeff is trying to fill their shoes.
‘At least you don’t have to enter country of origin, or if it’s shoes that are made with the parts of endangered species. Just go simple. Set it up how you want to report on it.’ he reminds me. ‘And stop poking at the screen, over and over. Give it a chance to load.’
Eye roll ‘Well, Duh.’ I already know this. <as I go back and change my product hierarchy based on that sage reminder> He doesn’t have to tell me. I’m being a User. And not the good kind.
You’re probably asking why I’m not using Square, or some other easy out of the box solution on an iPad. It’s because they want too big a cut of my profits. Even for cash transactions, for goodness sake! No, thank you. Besides, they would still require a product catalog. And these iPad solutions are really not for mostly cash businesses. With the Anti-fraud legislation passed in Spain from last October, I need to report everything correctly and have back ups of my back ups.
Water, Water Everywhere
My product catalog entered – it really didn’t take that long 😉 – I jetted into Melide to try to solve my water analysis issue. I have been to every farmacia, but one, to ask if they sell water testing kits. Our contractor told me just to go to a farmacia. But not one has sold these kits. I walked into the last farmacia I have yet to try before heading to Lugo or Santiago.
‘No. We don’t sell water testing kits.’
Heavy sigh. This was getting ridiculous. What was I going to do? I want to have the test results available to anyone who asks for my documents. And I want to provide Pilgrims with free water bottle refills. It’s been so hot. This summer will just get hotter.
‘Do you know where I can go?’ I asked. ‘I really need to have the water from our well at our house tested.’
The girl shook her head. ‘We only offer water analysis. But we don’t sell the test kits. It’s 2€ for the collection vessel. And €20 for the analysis and report.’
Wait, what? This is what I have wanted all along. I was asking for it the wrong way. Focused on the how instead of the what I was trying to accomplish. Likely, I would have been able to check this off my list weeks ago. I shook my head as I left the farmacia with my €2 water collection vessel. Jeff is right, these days I really am being a User.
2 thoughts on “The User”
It reminds me of my favorite story. A gal was prepping a roast to cook it and cut the ends off of it. Her partner asked her why she cut the ends off the roast and her response was ‘well, you just do’. But why, was the question so she called her mom to ask her why it’s good to cut the ends off the roast and her mom said ‘that’s just how you do it. If you want to know Why, call Gramma’. Granddaughter calls Gramma to learn why she and are mom had been taught to cut the ends off the roast. Gramma’s sage advice? “So it will fit into my roast pan”. Hahahahaaa.
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