Business moves fast. Companies need to react quickly to new opportunities and their business software needs to adapt just as quickly. Waiting for the IT guy to apply changes can really slow a business down. So if you’re creating software for business, you should strive to make your customers as self-sufficient as possible.
When considering automating a process, we try to forecast the types of changes that will happen frequently. And we make adapting to those changes easy for the customer to perform themselves. We call this “Turning the Steering Wheel Around”.
User account management is a prime example of a frequently occurring request. Managing controlled vocabularies and pick lists is also a task we’ve successfully delegated. Usually, there is a “Super User” to whom we provide elevated rights. The super user is often on the operations side and is involved in day to day activities. As such, they have a thorough understanding of the system and its use within the business. By providing access to audit logs and error logs, the super users are often able to perform “Tier 1” support to their own organization.
Another set of ongoing requirements revolves around reporting. We find that reporting requirements continue to evolve, long after the transactional part of the system stabilizes. We routinely use a number of industry standard reporting tools in the BioIT Software platform, including Crystal Reports, Siberix Report Writer, XSLT Transforms, HTML reports, and even Microsoft Office. Some of these tools are essentially programming and are therefore not good candidates for delegation. However, Crystal Reports and even Microsoft Word can be effectively used by super users in certain cases.
So if you are a software developer building solutions for business, I encourage you to think about empowering your customer. By Turning the Steering Wheel Around, the customer will be in the driver’s seat, not you.
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