Why employees shun company-bought software

For many organizations across Canada, workers – and sometimes entire departments – using solutions not vetted by the IT department, is one of the major headaches of chief information officers.

When allowed to go on unmonitored such practices pose significant risk to the enterprise. A recent survey of software use in American workplaces could help Canadian companies better understand the drivers behind shadow IT.

Ninety one per cent of 1,000 adults interviewed by research firm TNS for a survey commissioned by outsourcing ad expense management software maker Coupa Software, said they do not use company issued software at work.

Ten per cent of the people surveyed said that the software they used at work slowed down or crashed their computers, while almost as many said that it wasn’t reliable or didn’t work properly. And five of respondents said that the software simply wouldn’t work on their computer.

As many as 15.1per cent of people said that corporate software wasn’t user-friendly, or was hard to use and 8.8 per cent their workplace software was out-dated.

Darayush Mistry, VP of product marketing at Coupa Software, lays the blame with software that’s provided on-premise, rather than delivered via the Internet as a service.

“Legacy software applications were designed primarily for back office processes and then provided with a thin veneer self-service interface that treated end users and adoption as an afterthought,” said Mistry, whose organization happens to sell financial application software that runs in the cloud.

The survey results didn’t disclose whether the applications that respondents were discussing were cloud-based or not, or what business function the applications covered. The survey broke down respondents by demographics including income, but there was no information about job role or title, or the size of the company that each respondent worked for.

Mistry also argues that on-premise software involves “extensive customisation” that makes it even more complex, and requires extensive user training.

Cloud-based software tends to be developed for a broad base of customers, rather than tailored for the needs of a particular client.

One lesson that we can take away from the figures is that software should be developed to be simple. Not all users are equal, Mistry pointed out.

“Look closely at processes that involve end users, in addition to the ones that involve ‘power users’, and understand what the end user’s experience will be,” he said.

“There will be far more end users then power users in most organizations” Mistry continued. “While power users may require a lot of complexity and can be expected to take the time and learn to use that complexity, end users will be overwhelmed.”

Whether you migrate your software to the cloud or keep it in-house, it’s important to ensure that it reflects your users’ experience.

The front-end interface is a key part of that experience, as is back-end workflow. Most important of all is talking to users and ensuring software does what the users need it to. That’s easy to say, but hard to engineer, and requires a mix of technical smarts and a good listening ear.

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradburyhttp://www.wordherder.net
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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