Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Half-fast Salespeoples

So I spent forty-five minutes or so with a sales-person from one of the big legal publishers. He wanted to talk to SOMEONE here about the electronic packages of the titles that they were offering to different schools, to which he said many other firms and law schools had subscribed.

Within ten minutes I found a question he couldn't answer and a glitch in his company's software that he couldn't explain. The clock is counting for him to "get back to me" as he promised, but I'm not waiting.

And its not just a law school thang. My wife teaches english lit and composition at a community college here in town and experienced the same phenomena the other day: a sales-geek from some company couldn't get his product to work and my wife, who had actually used the damn thing, was apparently the only person there among the trainers and trainees who could show how the software did its stuff.

So this leads me to formulate a thesis about software development. The programmers who write the code can make their programs work, but generally can't speak plain english and explain it to customers and users. The salesmen who demonstrate the programs have two or three canned demos that work fine but when they are asked by the demo-ees to try something else they often run into either situations that their training hasn't prepared them for or glithes in their company's software that they have never come accross before.

SOOO... that leaves the actual USERS - the librarians, faculty, etc., who actually put the program/software/whatever to the test by using it in their classes or with their patrons - who know how the DAMN THINGS WORK!!!

And its US who can explain it to our fellow users and send notes back to the programmers about the bugs we discover.

So MAYBE we should be getting a cut of the money from the software companies. My wife e-mailed the sales rep who sent the half-assed trainer to her school to flail about and show his incompentance and told the company that SHE should get a cut of the sales contract with her school.

SO my solution is that the software companies should cut out their sales force and pay a per diem to the folks on the front lines who have learned how to use their products in the field to show other faculty and librarians how the stuff work.

If Gustav actually follows its projected path, maybe that's what I'll do.

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