Friday, September 09, 2005

The Problem With Configurability

We used to make our application configurable. I'm underwhelming this a lot - we used to make EVERYTHING configurable. Every time we needed to make a call one way or the other, we passed. I think this was partly because the application is used all over the world, and no two countries/provinces/states/etc. do things the same way. It's also partly because we had no real idea how the product was being used in the real world. Even if we did, it was very difficult to find anyone who would admit to being a product manager, and who would take the risk of making a call.

Things are a little better now, in terms of knowing what's going on out there. We've actually done some research into who's using the product, and what they're doing with it. It's still hard to find someone to make a call, though. Don't leave decisions like this to the developers. They'll either take the easy way out, or they'll make it configurable.

Whatever you do, don't leave it up to the users to decide.


  1. Anonymous7:22 pm

    So what is the difference between indifference and apathy? The end result is the same. You retreat into your hole and maybe do what you need to do to get by. I've worked on a few teams like that, and it sucked every time. The old-timers spent a lot of time reminiscing about the "good old days", and never actually tried to change things. Maybe they felt that they couldn't change things. I don't know, but I do know they didn't even try and that just made it worse.

  2. It's not the same.

    I may want to make things better, but I am indifferent to the idea of going out to a team building paintball game, for example. Indifference is not bad.

    Reminiscing about the "good old days" and not trying to make things better is apathy. That's bad.

    What do you do if you're on the indifferent side? Maybe suggest ways to make things better.

    What do you do if you're on the apathetic side? I'd say leave.

  3. Anonymous12:50 am

    The end result is still the same. Maybe suggest ways to make things better? The fact that you care doesn't count for jack if you don't actually do anything. What are you doing to make things better? Do you have a boss? What are you doing to help him/her improve things? Are there junior people on your team? What are you doing to help them?

  4. What are you doing to make things better?

    Right now? I'm keeping my mouth shut.

    Do you have a boss?

    I used to.

  5. Anonymous12:02 am

    There it is. You're doing nothing, and not helping others that are trying to do something. And you're using this blog to vent and reminisce. Call it indifference if that makes you feel better, but if you really care then you would do more than keep your mouth shut.

    Well, good luck to you.

  6. Why do you assume others are trying to do something? They're not, and I'm by far not the most vocal in my apathy.

  7. Anonymous5:59 pm

    I assume others are trying to do something because I've lived through the same pains more times than I care to remember. There were always people trying to improve things, and there were always people who weren't. More likely there are people trying to do something and a bunch of others that kill the efforts because they are apathetic.

    What it comes down to is this - make a choice. Try and help, or get out of the way of people that are trying to help. Apathy is poison. I've been on teams that turned it around, and it was a really neat experience to live through. I've also been on teams that just dug the hole deeper. That sucked.

  8. Wander over sometime and I'll tell you what people are doing to make things better. How about sending this to our testers (who have already been working a lot of overtime): "The real crunch period is upon us folks, and personally I see nothing unusual about 18 hour days and 7 day weeks if that is what it takes to complete the job. I have done this in the past and I know they are highly effective."

    Effective in reducing headcount, I suppose... Yes, this may be crunch time, but this is crazy.

    Try and help, or get out of the way of people that are trying to help.

    Working on it...

    And lest you think I'm a negative bugger, give this guy a read. He puts me to shame.