Presentations that are SO bad.

About 6 months ago, I started a new job.  The former product manager had left about 18 months prior to my arrival, and they “limped” along.

Now, I am going through sales presentations, sales training decks and curriculae and I am aghast at what I have to work with.

The previous occumant of my role was a PhD scientist.  He had the attitude of “I’m the smartest man in the room” and he was out to prove it to the audience.

However, that led him to build very wordy powerpoints. 10 bullet points each with two rows of text.  No illustrations of complex concepts (I mean, you are talking to sales, and they crave handholding). No thread or story.  

In short, while there is some good information, the vehicle destroys the message.

Sigh, it is going to be a long holiday weekend whipping some of these into shape.

 

If I hear this one more time I am going to lose it.

Those following the thread have seen my comments about a web project going poorly.

End root cause is that we went with a vendor which we were “comfortable” with, and didn’t figure out up front if he had the chops to deliver.

I want to pull back, complete a formal proposal (I had started this then I was told that the project was already 1/2 done), pick 3-4 local Web shops (I am in Phoenix, so there are lots here) to bid on it and then pick someone who has the chops and the skills to succeed at a price we can afford.

The answer to that was astonishing. 

We don’t want to do that. Getting a new vendor into our system is a painful process, and will take far longer than the whole project.

So, instead of using the right vendor, even if that requires getting them into our ERP system, we choose to use underqualified hacks, because it is too hard to find new? 

Really?

Just once in my career, I would like a project to be finished on time

and on budget.

Sigh.

There are always some extenuating circumstances:

  • A key component was more difficult to work through.
  • Some circuit design was wrong the first time around (and the second, and the third).
  • Regardless of how many times the design was reviewed, a connector was wired backwards on a circuit board.

Or commonly, software is delayed by not having hardware to test and develop against. And vice versus.

Or the software was a lot more difficult than anticipated.

The funny thing is, even with professional, certified project managers handling the threads, using the best practices for estimating time/effort/resources, projects are late/late/late.

As a product manager, I have my own “Kentucky Windage” that I use to “adjust” my personal expectations. ¬†And it is invariably way off.

Can’t we do better?

Stone age thinking in the internet age

I am a huge fan of accessibility, and convenience for my customers.  In my new role, we have a product that is a little long in tooth, and the software is a bit dated as well.  Working to fix that, but one hangup is our absolutely shitty help system.  

It is web based, and installed on the PC that the software is installed on.  It uses some POS ActiveX control, so it ONLY works with IE (and not IE9).  

Even when you get the right browser, and configuration, it is a lousy format, hard to navigate, and the search/index is terrible.

I want to go to a completely online, standards compliant interface, and always up to date.

But our marketing team, who controls the manuals and the help system generation/maintenance is paranoid that making the help information accessible to all would lead our competitors to find ways to attack us. Words fail me.

F’ me.  You can’t make this shit up.  How backwards is that.  

Swimming upstream here.

Sugar coating: Sometimes you have to tell your engineers their software SUCKS

You get to a point where you can no longer hold back.  It is like that bad uncle with the Comb-over who is not fooling anyone.  

Your software sucks.  It is a shitty UI, it looks like technicolor vomit erupted on the screen.

It is so unusable, that people prefer to go to the engineering screen to get a better handle on system control.

It crashes. A lot.  It takes out Windows 7, which is hard.

Please don’t hate me for telling you the truth.  Let’s fix this.