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Intuit Forces Engineers Into A Room Until They “Get It Right”–“The Short Order Code Kitchen Burned Down

Posted Oct 21 2012 5:09pm

Well Intuit is trying to do something here and we shall see whether or not it works but the entire issue here today whether it is financial or healthcare or other software, it’s getting way too complex.  imageEating your own dog food is something Microsoft has professed for years and it’s a very good thing.  You can’t just create software and parameters that “Are for those guys over there”.  A couple years ago I wrote about that too and it’s a big issue.  How many times did I see videos with Aneesh Chopra telling everyone to innovate and “get rich”.  Sure everyone wants to make money but create “useful” and consumer friendly software.  So many developers when it comes to consumer software don’t use their own stuff, they are motivated  to  follow the “get rich” side of the story. 

Of course when it comes to business software consumers “can’t” use all the software meant for business but they can use some of it.  Back in 2009 big announcement about Quicken Health Bill Pay going to partner with Allscripts, now how many consumers got excited over that?  Sure we have the peanut gallery of the web, which I try not to be a part of that will tell you how great every new innovation is and that you should use it, but most of those folks have never touched the software.  These are pseudo experts that like to tell you how all the innovation will help you, but yet fail to partake themselves.   


I’m not picking on the two companies by any means but am more or less a realist here…as insurers such as Cigna and United made the same announcements and is anyone more excited over Quicken Bill Pay yet?  Maybe a few but not a lot.  Back in 2010 I had a discussion with one of the Quicken reps and told them the same thing from the start…they did their own study and came out with the same results I predicted.  Consumers are way overwhelmed with software offerings and again when to listen to the internet peanut gallery, they tell you that you should be using all of them as that’s what they do best, rave and talk about the latest software that is out there, and again most don’t use it themselves but they have given themselves this “expert” status.  If I have done any of that in writing this blog, my apologies as I try not to and do take take and test out some of what I feel might be good.


This goes back to having “hands on” experience and I’ll go back to when I wrote my EMR several years ago.  I learned as a developer that I made a new module and was so excited and couldn’t wait for the doctors to try it out, some worked and some didn’t.  What hands on brought about though is the fact that I learned a long time ago that we are all different and I may have seen the new features or modules as designed as being simple and easy to use but put it in the hands of the doctors who were using the software I wrote and practicing medicine at the same time…well a different story.  Just because the software did what I said it could do wasn’t the complete answer.  My interface could have been clunky or too many clicks so this is where collaboration is really important. 

As a consumer you want your doctor to try a service or some software that you see valuable to you, but how much of the doctor’s time does it take and can he/she work it in?  Is it too focused in one area to apply for use in the masses?  I have seen a lot of that out there for sure and some is good, but do keep that in mind when you are the “magpie expert” here and have not used or tried the software portion from the consumer side. 

So with this article Intuit is trying to find out what is and is not working here for them and yes every developer whether in a real life or simulation mode should use it so we can get away from “it’s for those guys over there”.  When I came out with my first post on Intuit Health I’m sure that guy hated me until they did their own study but again wisdom you have from writing software and having experienced some of these pitfalls myself.  Nobody’s perfect.  I do look at what is out there on a regular basis and at times my response is “oh brother” …and the momentum for the so called innovated product is more like “hey dude lets write some algorithms and make some money” rather than a purpose of creating something that is useful and simple enough to use. 

What I do find interesting here is the fact that the one management person thought this could all be done in one day:)  Granted they are on the right track in getting everyone involved. but ….

“The short order code kitchen burned down a few years ago”

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, remember that.  Business management folks that have never written software as well as consumers don’t quite get this yet as in the early days we all could write pretty quickly but everything was not aggregated and shared like we have it today, so be aware that things take time today due to complexities.  Here’s a little blast from the past on a post I made way back in 2008…talking about CEOs not wanting to use tablets…hehe…look where we are today:)


I’m fair and take on everyone in the same fashion, logic and reality.  Here’s another one of my “its for those guys over there” posts from 2010.  HHs and their survey, and I have said this in a few other posts, “eat your own dog food” or somebody else’s in this case about PHRs…people seemed to like the “its for those guys over there posts and it’s basically the same as walking a mile in someone else's shoes.  How many surveys does the average consumer do to day and how many do they walk away from?  I occasionally will do one if I feel it is important but I bombarded and don’t have the frigging time to accommodate everyone…I’m busy chasing and fixing flawed data for one thing.  Read more on that topic here..Attack of the Killer Algorithms Chapter 45, it’s an eye opener on the money the data sellers are making not to mention the errors and the huge amount of “Data duping” going on today.  The reality here is that consumes are getting a lot busier chasing flawed data and that takes our time so that means we have “less time” for all the surveys thrown in our faces right and left:)




So this is good that Intuit is making the internal employees eat some dog food here so they “get” the business model and it should help but again do keep in mind the complexities and competition out there so it may not be a cure all and fix the way the managers want (who have never written code) but it can’t hurt for an awareness on what the company is trying to do.  We have few experts out there today if any.  That does not mean at all that there’s not a lot of smart people out there though as there are more than ever, but time to “can” the expert paradigm and start with smart people and realize they are not experts but they can help you in many ways.  How many expert CEOs do you see sitting on Wall Street today?  There’s your answer on experts.  This video below does a good job taking on that topic too. 



Even the big guys like Microsoft and Apple don’t get it right all the time and look at how many software applications they have trashed and discontinued, so again every application is not going to work for you or even the masses.  We also have applications that have been written for “desired” results versus the focus of “accurate” results…if you don’t believe that one see how it works in the financial markets and why CEOs have no clue on what their own business model is…of course Intuit should have that guy or gal in on this process too:)  Why not.  They may find that some of their business models are too complex as well as if they not understood internally, how in the world is the consumer going to deal with it.  Sometimes there’s a bit of fiction out there that you can’t see as marketing has done such a great job to disguise and studies are created to substantiate fiction sometimes.  This is not always the case but in the financial areas of business, it’s all over the place as fiction can lead to profits and move the money from the middle class to rich, it’s all about those algorithms.  It’s still a people world out there.  This is chapter 44 of my series called “The Attack of the Killer Algorithms” and the spread and occurrences of such is on the rise.  The video at the link will make your hair stand on end as it’s the Quants themselves telling you how the develop their own fiction..we should listen in here if you want a full dose of reality. 

Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street Video Documentary - Why It Needs to Matter What Companies Do and Not Focus Only On the Price of Stock With So Called Value - Attack of the Killer Algorithms Chapter 44

So when we talk risk these days, the real risk is the software or algorithms themselves…”is it real or is is Memorex”…to quote an old saying that is very appropriate today.  This tweet also made the same connection here in the fact that consumers and government has a long history of being Algo Duped and telling the difference is hard.  Why do you think Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert had their big event about bringing reality and sanity back?  If you get too far away from the “accurate” end and dwell in the “desired” end of the formulas…you get that…insanity. 


So let’s hang around and see that this exercise does or doesn’t do it for Intuit and go from there.  Again we are way overwhelmed with too much software out there today and to that I say this as we have way too much software that “only does one thing”.  I like software and how it makes me smarter and use tons of it all the time, but even I burn out on what is released as something that is “breaking” to only find out that some if it goes back to the “hey dude, let’s write some algos and get rich” and from my viewpoint I look in shock at times what investors sink their money into as well.  They make a lot of good decisions but even VCs and Angels  get Algo Duped and the smart ones in this area have individuals on board making decisions that have either a past or present of “writing code”. 

Software Innovation without collaboration is fouling up the entire healthcare system and I would imagine we can also begin to apply this to the financial world today as well.  BD




Computerworld - SANTA CLARA, CALIF. -- Prior to instituting a change management program, the IT group at financial and tax preparation software company Intuit took eight weeks to complete a business developer's service ticket.  

As in many businesses, at Intuit IT and business rarely if ever mixed. IT did what it thought it needed to in order to fulfill requests and advance technology, and business users did what they could to avoid IT.

But, after a radical change management program was instituted by Intuit's new CIO, the eight-week project fulfillments dropped to one day.

Intuit has taken the all in one boat-theory to its external business and tax customers as well, opening up their platform for users to customize for their own purposes.

For example, Intuit spent years developing 150 business reports, such as Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software, sales reports and profits and loss reports. Once business customers were allowed to customize their reports, Intuit quickly learned what had actually been needed.

"What we found was that the top 25 reports used by our clients had actually been created by our customers," Goodarzi said.



http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9232594/Intuit_forces_IT_engineers_into_room_until_they_get_it_right?taxonomyId=237&pageNumber=1


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