Monday, July 7, 2008

You know what sucks?

Bad software sucks. Badly designed, unintuitive software that makes easy jobs hard sucks.

One of the places I work bought some new software for both students and faculty to keep track of enrollment. Any system takes training, of course, but after you use it a while, it should become familiar. Not this stuff. I won't type in the name of the vendor of this junk software, but if you roll the cursor over the picture above and look at the title, you'll get the idea.

First you sign in. Name and password. So far, completely standard. But this sends you to a screen with minimal text that reads "Access to this screen is restricted to XXX employees only." with two button choices, Cancel and Continue. The first time you use it, you think "Oh, great, it doesn't recognize my name and password." But it does. Click on Continue. There are now several choices for how to continue, but the one you want is the top choice, which is Access. And you are asked to sign in again.

Using the same name and password. And they have the nerve to call this an extra level of security.

Once you are in the system, finding things is extremely unintuitive. Worse, to get to "my favorites" takes four mouse clicks. And once I click on the exact class I want, stuff I set up by adding it to "my favorites", it brings up my class information for the Fall term. The class I put into "my favorites" is taking place now in the Summer term. So I have to go to a screen for "Change Term" and click on Summer 2008. Only then can I see the classes I'm teaching as of right now. There may be some teachers who are in the system who aren't teaching in the summer and have some vague reason to access the software for their fall classes now. But how hard would it be to check to see if the teacher has summer work and send them by default to the summer term, with an option to look at their fall info if so desired? For those of you who haven't programmed software in the past, let me tell you it would be really easy to program this in. A monkey could program this in, and I don't mean some super advanced ape with a doctorate like blog buddies Dr. Monkerstein or Dr. Zaius. I mean an honest to Lenny, not an ape but a monkey, one who has never done any work harder than throwing feces or upstaging David Schwimmer.

My dear friend Mina was a chief information officer back in the day, and she told me a vendor at a meeting once spoke this deathless line: "If you automate the system, of course it will take longer to do the work." Back before the Cold War was over, she was also fond of the phrase "Eastern European levels of service at Western Democracy prices."

I suppose if I wasn't such a negative bastid, I'd be glad that I can think of funny things Mina said at times like this. But you know what sucks? Bad software sucks, and knowing funny jokes about bad software really doesn't make the experience of bad software suck any less.


FranIAm said...

As someone who was once the purveyor (cough cough) of sorts of some not-always-so-good-software and then was responsible for all the training and support of said software (Hi Dcap!!!)I hear you.

Bad software just really sucks. Period.

I so need a job right now, but I am so glad that I am not where I was. At least back then, I could provide good customer service to offset some of it.

Now that is gone, replaced with something called "productivity improvements and measures" which in any other language might mean "f*ck you, next client please."

Matty Boy said...

Thank you, Fran. Your comments are important to us.

I didn't want to start the week whining, but using this stuff, even with a manual right next to me, is really annoying, and I think there's a pretty good chance we will lose enrollment because students are going to give up on it.

CDP said...

I was trained two weeks ago on a software application that shall not be named, and I could have written this post verbatim. Bad software sucks.

Ed said...

I know this might stir up a whole new ball of worms, umm, can of wax, umm... err... thingy, but it seems like Mac users rarely have this type of problem, even with third party software. Time for a platform change, maybe? ; ) Sorry about that.

FranIAm said...

Oh Matty- you are so right, the net result is that bad software causes things like the students to give up.

This makes me very upset as someone who has been training people on some kind of software from 1986 forward.

'Cept not any more!

Distributorcap said...

i work with a ton of bad software

from some big companies.

i spend more time figuring out how to get around the bad quirks and faulty architecture than getting info.

i am the expert at using bad software.

and Microsoft -- u are friggin part of the problem

Mathman6293 said...

As a software company refugee I laughed when I looked at the name on your pick. The last two companies that let me go relied on the lack of features in these programs to sell their add-ons.

My favorite nick name was Suckie Ass Program for SAP.