Productivity Software

You Don’t Need Anymore Software

The downside to solving problems for a living is that you begin to see problems where there are none. I have to make and effort to stop myself looking for solutions to problems that don’t exist. The search for the best text editor or note taking application that will make me more productive. These aren’t problems because they are plenty of good editors and note taking tools. The real problem is that I use the search for the perfect tool as an excuse not to get work done.

What I find interesting is that big multi-national companies are not immune to the same issue. Organisations spend time and resources looking for software to solve all their problems. To no avail. They should be identifying then fixing the real problems. The real problems are usually processes, information silios, skills and lack of communication. As is the case with my personal quest for increased productivity. No tool is going to solve an organisation’s issues.

Developers who are people develop software. No software developer is ever going to understand you like you understand yourself. No developer works the way you do. No developer reacts the way you do to different scenarios. No developer shares all the experiences that have shaped you. This means that no developer can ever develop software that meets all your needs.  

There is a second part to why no new tool will solve your “problem”. It follows Pareto’s principle also known as the 80⁄20 principle. It takes 20% of the time to master 80% of a tool. It then takes 80 percent of the time to master the final 20% of the tool. Lets use a text editor as an example. I estimates the 20% is roughly a year and a half. Bear in mind that most decent editors have plugins, shortcuts and other features you need to master. To master the remaining 80% of the tool you need a further 3 years. This is a long time. I tend to get restless and throw in the towel after a year.  

It takes people in a organisation longer to master software. When working in an organisation, you have to contend with the rules of the organisation. You might only have part of the software licensed. You might not have permissions for some of features. There might be a process that requires you to submit a signed motivation form use a feature. All these factors lead people to think the software is the problem. Perhaps a better piece of software might require less motivation forms.  

To be clear, I am not advocating never installing new software. There are good reasons to intall new software. A column store database is better for analytical queries than traditional database. Don’t think your problems will go away when you start using the new software.

Leave a Reply