It is very difficult indeed to produce something truly exceptional, without somewhere along the line creating something rather less so.
Energy Procurement can be complicated, even frustrating at times. Creating software which simplifies, automates and spruces up this drawn-out, sometimes arduous process was our clear aim when Andy & I first sat down to iron out the kinks in a pretty comprehensive business plan. And regular readers of our rantings will know that we’ve accomplished this through a process of validated learning thanks to our customers and customers-to-be. But whilst I do write frequently about the flurry of ideas which flow in daily from our broker friends, it’s fair to say the UC development team add their own innovations along the way. Some are not always as successful as others.
Deciding what not to add to a software system is just about as important as what should be added. The drawing board is a big canvas, and various functions along the way over the last year have been sidelined, pushed back, or in some cases entirely banished having been branded as nonsense either through customer testing or just a pair of fresh eyes the next day. Some slip through the net; and every software company has added features they wish had never been included. Those of you who haven’t entirely blocked out the memory of Windows Vista are probably getting angry just thinking about some of the ‘features’ which made it through to production – features you were paying for too!
When we release software updates and new features, these are distributed to our entire customer base. This means getting it right through validation is even more important. But we’ve learned that removing unused features can actually be a sort of feature in itself. Skipping a few mouse clicks every time you tender a portfolio can improve user experience no end.
Yesterday we removed a feature which has been the company mascot for bad ideas ever since we chewed over those first software wireframes over a year ago. Commission Discounts – the brainchild of my co-founder (and I like to remind him of this regularly) has been systematically unused by our customers. What seemed like an interesting concept at the time of development turned out to be a tiny Windows Vista in itself. Listening to customers, and crunching stats on feature usage meant removing it was an easy choice. Sure, spending money undoing your own work can be a little soul destroying, but the fact remains – customers deserve the best system possible.
Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back, and admit defeat – however minor. We’ve removed a feature today, but that’s ok. We listen to our customers, and we build software that works for them.