I’ve done work for many software delivery organisations and they all have one thing in common: they think delivery of software to the client is success. I beg to differ.
Several years ago, one such organisation delivered a software solution to its client on time and within budget at a cost of roughly £15 million. I imagine backs were clapped all round and champagne corks flew. However, only about 11% of the target user population ever adopted the software, despite the fact that the software met the requirements (which tells me that the requirements were incorrect in the first place, but that’s a topic for another blog post). The rest reverted to manual processes using spreadsheets because they found the new software made their job harder and slower. I won’t go into detail about the causes other than to say that the business provided a handful of “subject matter experts” to represent a user base of thousands and their requirements were taken as gospel by analysts (who acted as little more than stenographers), developers and testers, none of whom could explain so much as the business significance of a field on a screen and none of whom could cite the strategic business goals of the project, nor had read the business case. Incidentally, the 11% who did use the software, mainly did so because they were ordered to by their managers.
About two years after Version 1 of that software went into production, the business decided to address the issues and launched a project to improve it. Version 2 cost a further £10 million and added no new functionality at all, it merely attempted to make version 1 less bad. Version 2 went into production on time and within budget and I imagine that, again, there was much slapping of backs and uncorking of champagne. The adoption of Version 2 went up to 18% of the target user population, despite the fact that the software met the requirements. The same issues I mentioned above had repeated themselves. Nobody had learned anything and the same mistakes were made because everyone within the delivery organisation still thought of Version 1 as a successful delivery.
Several years after kicking off the development of Version 1, and £25 million later, 88% of users were still doing their work in MS Excel!
Delivery is not success. Adoption is success. Realisation of strategic business objectives is success. The sooner delivery organisations learn this and operate accordingly, the better.