Custom Application Development

Oct 18 2007   1:35PM GMT

Application Software Redesign – When is it time?



Posted by: SJC
Tags:
Business process automation
CIO
Database application
Database application front-end programming

When is it time to look at an application software redesign?  A comment made to my post yesterday really hit a home run with me.  For one thing, I found once again that there are others who seem to think along the same lines as I do — always a nice feeling I find! 

It was LadyRatri’s comment “…Beyond just tolerating “klunkiness”, it’s always a surprise when business or operational process is designed around the deficiencies of a tool or its interface — especially when it adds significantly to the time it takes users to do their day-to-day work. “  This statement speaks volumes to me. 

The comment immediately reminded me of experiences I’ve had with character based (remember those?) systems originally designed to run on dumb terminals.   As the years of use progress on these systems, there seems to be reluctance to either redesign the application using modern techniques, or to replace the application with a new system.  Rather it seems that where possible additional functionality is “bolted on” to the already minimally functional application.  Certainly I don’t want to downplay the magnitude of either choice — but I do believe that this “reluctance” feeds the tolerating of “klunkiness”, as well as the designing of business or operational processes “around” the deficiencies of a tool or its interface.

I believe that it is the day-to-day users who really know when it is time for an established application to make it to the graveyard.  Signs of this include, but are not limited to, “klunkiness”, inefficiency, posted “notes” around the system explaining “workarounds” and above average “frustration” on the part of users.  “Can’t something be done?” becomes the mantra of the average user.

So here I am again referring to the value of the end-user’s input.  However, it is the VERY fortunate developer who has the opportunity to make contact to get input from those “in the trenches”, as pointed out by LadyRatri in her comment.

Applicationsoftware redesign – when is it time?  My answer is “Check with your users, observe your users, listen to your users…” and you may find out (…if deep in your heart you don’t already know :-).

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