Software. Watch the Doughnut Not the Hole

I run into what I call the “doughnut problem” with early stage software that I work with pretty regularly.   As a company develops its offering, it constantly pushes (and is pulled) to the periphery of its feature set, racing to add functionality, to meet customers’ needs and fulfill its vision.  While doing this, its developers never have time to go back to the core functionality and retool it, even if it needs that desperately.  The core is left peppered with aging and dead spots that users have to navigate around, like vacant lots in a fading industrial city.

With Salesforce

You see this with Salesforce:  it’s import function has not changed one bit since I started using it about 10 years ago; It still has some goofy language about how to import a csv file.  And, although Salesforce’s search functionality has improved a little, it is still woefully inadequate (It was insanely bad for the first five years of the company’s existence.)

Our Aged Friend Outlook

Outlook too has caveman-like search functionality (crazy making if you are used to gmail) and I love the tab in Microsoft Office 2010 that offers a complete menu for generating mailings (labels, envelopes, mail merges).  It is one of eight tabs, so presumably the product guys figure that 1/8 of users will find this helpful.  Hmmm.. let me mimeograph some newsletters and we’ll run a mail merge of a cover letter and send packages out members of my stamp collecting club.

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