Does “perfect software” exist?

The software we all use is complex and developing products to be able to handle every single scenario is practically impossible. Unfortunately, “bugs” or “undocumented features” are a reality in all software products, as well as in the software used to develop it. Despite rigorous testing, these will still creep in.

There will always be perceived limitations in software because every customer’s needs and understanding are different, and it is highly unlikely that software can perfectly address every customer’s needs and wants.  Some “wants” are pretty unreasonable expectations (speaking as a developer!)

Software generally works, but it won’t be “perfect”. Agreed, you would not buy personal tax software if it did not calculate the tax liability correctly or did not file returns in the appropriate format with HMRC. This is pretty clear cut, but what do you expect from a practice management system for instance?

Ask 20 people, and you will get 20 differences of opinion as to the most important functionality and features and why they are buying or not buying as the case may be.

There might be “workarounds” to achieve a desired outcome, but the fact that a workaround is necessary reinforces the fact that the software is not perfect. Cost and benefit are factors that need to be considered. To develop any software to achieve a certain result is often hugely complex and expensive to both build and maintain, but the fact that output could perhaps be exported to a csv file to manipulate in a spreadsheet may be an acceptable solution. An example -a summary of time and costs may be obtained from practice management software in a fixed layout – e.g. in date order. However, the report could be exported as a csv file, and pivot tables can then be used to provide summaries by employee, by job type etc.

Another reason for considering software not to be “perfect” might well be the increasingly blurred lines between products. Corporation tax software or personal tax software is again pretty clear as to what it does, but is another product classed as “practice management software” or “CRM software” or both (or perhaps neither)?  

Many prospective buyers wait for the “magic product” software, so often end up waiting a long time and forgoing potential benefits in the interim. Many purchasers actually establish a good relationship with the software vendors and provide feedback and enhancement requests which help to drive the product forward, identifying the development path.

It was clearly highlighted that “perfect software” does not exist by the results of a recent survey that saw well over 30% of respondents looking to change their accounts production software!

Thoughts?

Anonymous