Print Management Insider Blog

Be The Shark: Software Evolution Done Right

Posted by Susan Scurry on Feb 10, 2015, 1:31:50 PM

Sharks have supposedly existed on earth for over 450 million years. Over time, they evolved into a formidable predator. Their brains became larger, their sense of smell is more advanced, and their teeth gradually transformed from smooth to razor sharp. Some species adapted to freshwater, and as a tribute to their evolutionary prowess, you can find sharks in waters all over the world.

On the other hand, the duck billed platypus has also evolved into a remarkable species, if you’re able to disregard its unfortunate appearance (a tail like a beaver, a bill like a duck, claws like a bird, webbed feet, and even a poisonous spur behind its ankle!). It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of the animal kingdom, but without any fashionable appeal.

Meanwhile, the lazy panda bear, whose exclusive bamboo diet, lethargic lifestyle and complete lack of interest in reproduction, apparently make the animal almost predestined for extinction. (Unless it changes its attitude drastically. And soon.)

Anything that is forced to modify itself in order to adapt to its changing environment, is bound to improve to some respect. But as we see from the examples above, evolution is not perfect, and in some cases, destructive.

So, what does this have to do with print management software?

Software products are also victims and beneficiaries of evolution. Ever-changing technologies, business needs, competitive landscapes, and market dynamics have daily impacts in the world of software development.

“Great software design happens when you have someone asking the right questions, good listeners on your team, and open dialogue with your users.”

At Print Audit, managing the constant influx of new business requirements is an ongoing challenge. As the MPS marketplace steadily evolves, we are continuously learning how MPS dealers are using our products in new ways to help their businesses become more successful. And in order to support the evolution of MPS business needs, careful analysis and prioritization of feature requests is performed on an ongoing basis.

We spend a great amount of time evaluating feature requests, to look past what the user asked for, and determine what they need.  This usually involves a lot of back-and-forth communication, and making sure we are asking the right questions.

Let’s take the case of Bill, a busy administrator of Facilities Manager, who submits a request that seems relatively simple. “Add a red button here, so I can do this task faster! How hard can it be to add a red button?”  Bill is obviously frustrated because something in his business process is taking too long to accomplish, but he may not need a red button to achieve his goal. If Bill tells us what is causing his frustration, and what he is ultimately trying to accomplish, there’s a good chance we might be able to automate a process to help him achieve his task, without pushing any buttons at all.

Great software design happens when you have someone asking the right questions, good listeners on your team, and open dialogue with your users. Whenever Print Audit developers understand what our customers are trying to accomplish and why, they are much better equipped to determine how other users would take advantage of the feature, what the feature should look like in the product, and what architectural impacts it might have.

Tacking one feature after another onto our products, without sufficient business analysis, could end up turning our market-leading solutions into systems that are unattractive and less user-friendly (Hello, Platypus!), or difficult to support, and architecturally unstable (that’s you, Panda Bear!).

Print Audit will continue to evolve with our customers the way it always has – leading the market with well-designed features and functionality. All over the world. Like a shark.

Topics: business, development, managed print, Managed Print Services, MPS, Office Equipment Dealers, print audit, print management, print tracking, strategy, success, Technology, tips

Susan Scurry

Written by Susan Scurry

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