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There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

Posted on Thu 26 May 2016
Written by Keith Turkington MD of Fluent Technology, grant management guru, process engineer, frequent flyer, father of 3, ufology geek and keen cook.

I was having technology issues.  Nothing major, just my wireless mouse was playing up again.  I would move it and nothing would happen.  I would move it again and still nothing.  I would sit back and suddenly my cursor was all over the place.  Sometimes it would work, sometimes not.  Grrrr!!!  Frustrating does not quite cover it.  I was trying to finish an important document and rather than being able to concentrate on that, I was thinking bad thoughts about my mouse and the company that produced it.   I tried giving it a few “gentle taps” on the desk which was met with the comment “technology and violence do not make good bedfellows” from Jackie, sitting beside me.  Point taken! Extra points for you if you can place which movie that line appears in!

Technology is an enabler.  Used correctly it can enable significant positive change and can transform how we work and play.  It saves time, automates routine and streamlines repetitive tasks and much can be achieved with little. When it works your world is a much better place!

When technology lets us down it can be painful, frustrating and incredibly annoying.  I know … a first world problem!  Technology permeates our lives and is so much a part of what we do that when it fails it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful.  Forget about my mouse and consider what happens when the core system you use every day fails you.    When this happens our focus more often than not is on the current problem.  It’s hard to see past and we quickly forget all the previous times that the solution has served us well.  We bang the table (ok, that’s probably just me) and stress levels invariably rise.

As a company that has developed, and is continually improving and supporting a software solution that underpins the work of a large number of myriad organisations, we are VERY aware of the frustrations that can arise when our software fails.  So what do I mean by ‘fail’?  Basically – ‘not fit for purpose’ i.e. the software does not do what you need it to do or the software does not do it in an elegant, easy way.  The challenge/dilemma/butt ache (is that a real term?) we have is making ONE software solution work for ALL users.  We encounter ‘fails’ all the time.  Surprised to hear that?  You shouldn’t be – it happens in all software companies and is not unique to us.   We build a new feature, users like it and some even love it.  Then the “ah but…” starts.  Only when software is used day in and day out by a broad range of people can the not so obvious ‘fails’ be found.  Then what is really important is knowing which ‘fails’ are the show stoppers (a technical term commonly used in support environments) and which are minor irritations.  We need to focus on the big ticket items (I am realising this article is quickly becoming saturated with slang terms!) so these will always be the priority but we will also try to ensure that we find time for the niggles too.  When we review a ‘fail’ and attempt to determine what is a show stopper and what is a minor irritation there is one thing what would really help.  If only we had a way of knowing the collective opinions of our user community!!

So, we will be launching an ideas portal very soon and we hope that it will allow all of our customers to propose new ideas for improving Flexi-Grant® and what ‘fails’ you would like to see addressed.  If you are a routine Flexi-Grant® user, I would encourage you to please let us know your ideas and to share any ‘fails’ that are frustrating you.   You, our users, will be a lot more aware of what really works and what “mostly works” than we will be.  Helps us make your technology better.  After all, that’s what we do.

Note to self – I wonder if my mouse is not working because of repeated “gentle tapping” on the desk?  Which came first – the “tapping” or the problem?  Methinks I will keep my own counsel on that one…

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