May 9, 2013Doug Hadden
Enterprise Software Success Myth #7
Doug Hadden, VP Products
FreeBalance is a medium-sized Independent Software Vendor (ISV) with considerable success competing against very large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors. We are sharing 16 lessons learned by bucking conventional wisdom to encourage industry innovation and creativity.
Enterprise Software companies introduce new features with every new release through an interesting ceremony: gathering analysts, customers, partners and music stars at a large event. Saturate the market with press releases and hyperbole. Claim each and every new feature presented is “innovation”. And, go so far as to define integration among acquired products as innovation.
Enterprise Software customers are reluctant to upgrade to the newer versions because of the introduction of complexity or changes in the user interface that users have become familiar with.
The Enterprise Software market is undergoing significant change where new “features” often reduces perceived value by users, as pointed out by Alan Cooper , features often get in the way of usability.
- Focus on user experience design especially since the success of Apple in consumer devices through ” design thinking”Focus on UX.
- As described by Eric Kimberling, many ERP customersdon’t want to constantly change their operations to adapt to functionality. To add insult to injury, most organizations don’t upgrade because it delivers any sort of tangible ROI. Instead, they do it because they have to and often have no other choice if they want to continue to have annual maintenance and support.
- A survey from an ERP user group found the average upgrade time frame is between 6 to 12 months.
- We’ve seen the elimination of feature noise in popular products such as in Microsoft Office
- As Clayton Christiensen has identified the “Innovator’s Dilemma” where incumbent vendors are reluctant to implement disruptive innovation that disrupts the business model.
Feature bloat in software – bloatware is a scourge – it makes software less financially sustainable by customers: harder to learn and remember features and increases the required technology footprint. Our “features” approach includes:
- Software designed with no client/server layer to reduce the technology footprint.
- Focus on features designed for government with no private sector features.
- Change the product roadmap based on customer needs at the FreeBalance International Steering Committee and the Government of Canada FreeBalance Cluster.
- No forced upgrades and the support for multiple software versions.