Technology Record - Issue 24: Spring 2022

82 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om Over my career, I’ve spent 15 years helping organisations select and implement enterprise software. There’s one pattern I would see happen repeatedly – a lack of balance between not enough and too much. Whenever you buy software, you’re putting a boundary around your needs. The upper limit of what the software can do is restrictive. You need to figure out how far from that boundary you are, and how long it will take you to get there. At the same time, people and organisations have a ‘maximum technology absorption rate’. Change is usually incremental and rarely transformation, and too much software can be overwhelming. It’s a constant tension. When we got a puppy, we bought a kennel for her to sleep in at night. We sat it at the foot of our bed and the dog loved the little space to curl up in. There’s a canine psychology aspect to this. It turns out that dogs are ‘lair animals’ – they love small spaces that make them feel safe. Put them in a large empty room, and they’ll likely find a corner. However, the dog grew, and what was once cosy soon became restrictive. Helpfully, the kennel was expandable. It was two or three times the size we needed at first, and it had a back wall that could move. As the dog grew, we kept moving the back wall a few inches at a time. The space stayed nice and comfortable, and we’re not sure the dog ever noticed. If we didn’t have an expandable kennel, what could we have done? The first night the dog crawled in, we’d have looked at the few inches between the dog and the wall and think, “Well, when she hits that, I guess we get a new kennel.” When that time came, we’d incur the expense, the effort and the time to swap out kennels and get the dog used to the new one. There are two similarities between this scenario and software. First, too much software can overwhelm your users. Users like to feel mastery over their tool, and any part of a software package that they don’t use is a loose thread tugging at both their attention and their desire to feel like they like have control. Second, too little software can box in your organisation. If the ‘back wall’ can’t move, then you end up constantly switching between Composability in enterprise software Finding the balance between too much and too little software is crucial to ensure that users are both comfortable in using your solution and excited for what comes next DE ANE BAR K E R : OP T I M I Z E LY V I EWPO I NT