Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The importance of software evolution versus revolution

Innovation in software is critical, but major upgrades and software system changes appear to be a point of stress for many. What is interesting to consider is how the tools we use each day evolve (hopefully for the better) and why it is that we don’t like a major change. That ‘fear’ of change is often based on negative experiences in moving from one version of a product to another – whatever that product might be – and that grim memory of past stresses involving data loss, or a confusing change in the user experience. Clearly, there are times when some of those negatives experiences are down to the individual – I know I believe in my innate ability to use tools without reading a manual. That same misguided expectation that leads me to never ask for directions when lost . . . J

I’m frequently asked how we handle software change at Anaqua. How does this impact the user experience? How will we migrate data to a new version of the product? How are we going to re-train all our staff? Prior to joining Anaqua, my response would have been that sometimes you just need to deal with the pain to get the benefits of something new.  Past experiences colour your perception of how easy product evolution can really be – and if you just have to accept that revolution is the only way that you can see major improvements.

At Anaqua, our teams talk about ‘evolution versus revolution’ and how this is central to how we think about improving our solutions without causing undue ‘upgrade pain’. I’m a convert to this approach and perhaps I never truly understood this before. We are constantly releasing new features, streamlining more processes and updating functionality based on continuous feedback from our amazing client community. All of this is done with a careful eye on minimizing the effort to move to a new version of our solutions. As a result, our client base stays current with our releases and can take advantage of all the new features.

I believe we should demand this approach from today’s technology. If your current systems are still making you go through infrequent but painful upgrades, and you have to wait for ages for new features and functions, then perhaps it’s time to think again about your suppliers?

Guest Contributor, Jonathan Newcombe