When You Find Yourself In a Software Hole, Stop Digging!

Bad software is rolled out all the time, perhaps because business clients have poorly defined use cases, ad hoc processes – or because software firms cut corners and let programmers take off without proper supervision. Then there’s also good ol’ incompetence (of course). Executive ego around how customers “should” go about their business in the solution is sometimes an issue as well – even though “educating” the marketplace to correct the errors of their ways is usually a horrible foundation for a business plan. Many software firms learned this the hard way during the dot.com days.

Instead of hanging out to dry one of the software companies that we cover, I’ll bring up an example that most can relate to – Delta.com. Whether through ineptitude or sheer stubbornness, the Delta.com site has been changed in waves over the years, going from bad to worse (and then even worse) – with some changes for the better in between. We have used them as an example of what not to do in the past.

True to form, the site was changed again the other day. Unfortunately, none of the many needed corrections to their site that would have delivered an actual improvement were implemented. For starters, how about moving the oddly placed login box back to the industry standard placement in the upper right hand corner? Nope. Instead we get this:


As you can see, Delta has now placed a big arrow box pointing out the weird location of their current login position. Really? Talk about addressing the symptom and not the cause. As an elite status member of Delta’s Skymiles program I find this embarrassing. This is an example for "UI Design" textbooks – about what not to do.

On a more important usage note - a really important one - an aspect that anyone working with esourcing, SLM, P2P, einvoicing or other solutions where vendors have to contribute data points before the process can move forward can relate to.  I had gone to Delta.com to update passport details for the entire family prior to an upcoming trip overseas - I had received automated calls from Delta that something unspecified but related to this was needed.  First step was to call Delta's premier hotline for elite members - they had no clue why I needed to do anything, all looked fine. This illustrates, yet again, the need for integration between solutions - Delta knew that something was missing in the records, which triggered an automated call - nice - but then the support folks (Delta employees here in the US) couldn't see any reason for the call.

Since I am suspicious of solution providers as a default, I thought I'd better check it out firsthand. Thus the reason why I was knocking on Delta.com.  What did I find?  Well, after extensive prodding and poking (you're flying blind when navigating Delta.com), I managed to eventually find a place where additional data around passport information can be entered - to appease the pseudo-security powers that be at Homeland Security or maybe it was the TSA?  The click-count to get to this area was horrendously high, with no guidance or indication along the way that important information was missing.

I am happy to report that I know of no currently available procurement tool that is as confounded and lacking in guidance - however, users of the old Frictionless esourcing "solution" can relate to the degree of confusion that exists inside Delta.com.  This is a lesson for all when deploying supplier-facing solutions - make sure that it is easy for users to quickly provide needed data.  Solutions these days should have no more than 2 or 3 clicks to get to the goal, clear navigation and content-related dynamic guidance that changes depending on the activity.

Can you think of any other industry design flaws?

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