Thursday, June 09, 2011

Whoa! Hold the Phone.

If you're like me, when purchasing new software, there's a great urgency to get it installed, log in, and start clicking. That approach probably works with a lot of productivity software such as Microsoft Office. After all, no one ever sat me down and explained to me the theory behind Microsoft Word, or tried to explain its inner workings. This particular software, software that I use almost every day, is pretty much magic to me. And that's perfectly OK. I learned everything I know about Word by "wandering around." That is, trying stuff until I eventually produced the desired result.

I can't say the same approach would work for people attempting to implement a software product like MISys Manufacturing. Sure, you can learn a lot by wandering around, but I think doing so would lead to many more horrible mistakes and take many times longer than necessary.

In my experience learning how to use complex software products, I've often thought "Hold the phone. Could someone just explain the basic concepts and theory behind this product? Having that insight would make all the future learning go down much easier."

When building the MISys Manufacturing System, we added a big section, right up front in the documentation, called Theory of Operation. The objective of this section is to help people understand what MISys is trying to do, and from the 30,000-foot level, the basic concepts in play within the product.

Last week I found myself putting the finishing touches on the Installation Guide for the new 5.0 version of MISys Manufacturing.  Appropriately, the Guide takes you step-by-step through the process of getting the program installed and gets you to the point where you are logged in, ready to start clicking away.

Then, in a flash of introspection, I thought "Whoa! Hold the phone. Don't we want MISys customers to understand a lot more about this product before they get to this point?" Of course!

So this week, I've banged out another document I'm calling the Pre-installation Guide. It's the document you should read and understand before you ever install the MISys software. Hopefully, the Pre-installation Guide will give you that 30,000-foot view that will make all the learning you have ahead go a bit easier.

You can check it out at
Tell me what you think!

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